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by WLJ
2006 November 13
Joe Meng, vice president for Arkansas City, KS-based Creekstone Farms, last week said the company had responded to USDA’s opposition filing in Creekstone’s pursuit of blanket testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Meng said USDA will now be allowed one final opportunity to reply to Creekstone’s reply. The judge presiding over the case has set a deadline of Dec. 1 for the USDA response. After the USDA filing, the federal judge will render his decision on the Creekstone motion for a summary judgement. Creekstone is seeking resolution to the matter in Washington, D.C., federal District Court for a case filed in mid-2006.
by WLJ
2006 November 13
— Corn prices continue to pressure feeders. Fed cattle trade came early again last week at $86 live and $132-135 dressed. Those prices were mostly $2-$3 lower live and $4-$5 lower dressed basis. Texas feedlots sold 20,000 head of cattle at $86-$86.50, Kansas feedlots reported selling 11,000 head at $86 live and $1.365 dressed, Nebraska feedlots reported selling 22,000 head of cattle for $85-$86 live and $1.33-$1.35 dressed, and Colorado feedlots reportedly sold 5,500 head for $86-$86.50 live and $1.35 dressed. The decline in the cash market, along with continued declines in the futures market, is being driven by shrinking retail
by WLJ
2006 November 13
Research conducted by the Institution of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER), Wales, UK, has proven that feeding high sugar grasses to ruminant livestock could have many advantages. It is known that the conversion of grass protein to milk protein is significantly poor. The reason is that the microbes in the animal’s rumen cannot keep pace with the rapid breakdown of proteins into compounds containing nitrogen. Much of the nitrogen is absorbed from the rumen and becomes waste which is excreted in the animal’s urine, producing large amounts of ammonia. High sugar grasses contain high levels of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC). The
by WLJ
2006 November 13
The packing industry has searched for years for ways to improve efficiency and remove variables from the meat production process. The approval of instrument grading last week is perhaps one of the fastest ways to improve efficiency and eliminate variability in packing plants. At the same time, the technology is expected to reward producers of high quality beef and lower costs. Taking humans and the inevitable errors of grading out of the loop, USDA expects the technology will allow producers to better analyze the impact of management decisions on the end product, while improving efficiencies in feedlots and profits all
by WLJ
2006 November 13
In a landslide vote, Washington voters rejected property-rights Initiative 933 last Tuesday. The bill would have created new limits on government’s power to regulate what owners can do with their land. It also would have allowed property owners to seek retroactive compensation for unequally applied restrictions on land use in the rapidly growing state. I-933 lost by large margins in almost all western Washington counties. It also was trailing in Spokane County and in some rural eastern Washington counties, where it had been expected to fare the best. “The voters showed they support laws that protect communities from irresponsible development and keep
by WLJ
2006 November 6
ID, records don’t have to be high tech Climbing into a tractor cab at a farm sale, you discover corn yield counts for the past 20 years. The crop rotations on the back 80, the river bottom and “John’s place” are laid out in barely legible layers on the vinyl interior. To an outsider, this “chicken scratch” is useless information, but to the farmer who owned that tractor, it was priceless. He might have used it to pick different seed varieties or to change his weed and pest control from year to year. What about the rancher who gets a new pair
by WLJ
2006 November 6
The outbreak of E.coli 0157:H7 that was responsible for three deaths and over 200 sick people across 26 U.S. states and one Canadian province may have been caused by wild boars. Health officials have localized the contaminated spinach to one specific property, said Dr. Kevin Reilly, deputy director of the prevention services division for the California Department of Health Services. “We have not closed any possibilities on three other [nearby] ranches, but the information is accumulating that our environmental findings are consistent on this one property.” There is clear evidence that the pigs did walk through the field that produced the tainted
by WLJ
2006 November 6
Late last month, 61 head of mixed cattle weighing approximately 630 pounds were stolen from Brookover Cattle Company near Scott City, KS. The cattle, owned by Scott Livestock Company, were recovered after being left at a small livestock auction market near Joplin, MO. Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) has a program that is designed to aid members in recovering stolen cattle. As a member, Scott Livestock reported the missing cattle to KLA for their assistance. “One of our member services is a theft reward program,” states Matt Teagarden, director of industry relations at KLA. “We’ve been able to help recover livestock, in addition
by WLJ
2006 November 6
It's a gold rush It’s starting to look like the next gold rush and in some cases, you can literally say that because the product is gold. Dried distillers grain (DDG), is coming onto the feed market very fast. Dried distillers grains are actually the byproduct of the savior of the energy industry, ethanol, or that’s what some people might be thinking. The past few weeks, the corn market has gone ballistic. Cash corn is well over three dollars, $3.50 a bushel, to be exact, as of last Thursday. The last time corn moved in this direction was about 10 years
by WLJ
2006 November 6
Creekstone Farms, for the first time in nearly three years, shipped U.S. beef to South Korea last week. The shipment of almost 18,000 pounds landed in South Korea Oct. 30 but it could be more than a week before the inspection is complete, according to Creekstone Farms Vice President Joe Meng. He said the company had product ready to be shipped and through discussions with USDA officials, decided to be the first packer to ship beef to South Korea since the border opened. “We have been shipping product successfully to Hong Kong, which has the same zero tolerance policy as
by WLJ
2006 November 6
Pork giant is the packer to watch I’ve spent 20 years observing the U.S. meat packing industry. During that time, companies have merged with or acquired others, and corporate and family names have come and gone at a bewildering rate. Remember BeefAmerica? It was the fourth largest beef processor before it disappeared. Remember Vernon Calhoun in Texas, a long-time cow processor? The changes have been constant, and there are more to come. Consider this: of the four largest beef processing companies, every one has had a change of ownership or made acquisitions in the past five years. Now all eyes are on
by WLJ
2006 November 6
Premises registration is the first step livestock owners can take in protecting their herds against disease outbreaks. Premises is defined as a location where animals are born, managed, marketed, or exhibited. There are two states, Indiana and Wisconsin, which have made premises registration mandatory. Of the other 48 states, Nebraska leads the way in the number of producers who have registered their operations. Of 31,000 locations to register, Nebraska has registered 13,000. The state of Colorado has been able to register 4,000 producers and California has 3,500 registered. So, why is Nebraska so far ahead of the other voluntary states? “The members (Nebraska
by WLJ
2006 November 6
There are 10 property rights initiatives on the ballot across the country now that two have been removed as a result of separate court cases in Montana and Nevada. However, on Nov. 7, measures in Arizona, California, Idaho, and North Dakota have citizen-led initiatives on the ballot. Lawmakers in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire and South Carolina passed constitutional amendments that also will go before voters. Last month, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment limiting eminent domain. Meanwhile, initiative attempts in Oklahoma and Missouri failed to qualify for the ballot. In Montana, a recent legal decision by the state Supreme Court
by WLJ
2006 November 6
Illness caused by Salmonella isn’t usually fatal, but it can be very unpleasant. This intestinal pathogen, usually transmitted by raw or undercooked foods, can cause fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about 40,000 cases of Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, are reported in the U.S.each year. But many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, so the actual number may be up to 30 times greater. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are investigating a variety of approaches to reducing consumer risk of Salmonella infection transmitted through foods of animal origin, including preharvest strategies. Treating feed At the Food
by WLJ
2006 November 6
With cattle prices falling, corn prices increasing, and numerous challenges that America’s cattlemen face everyday, Idaho producers have added one more problem to their list. Producers in Idaho have reportedly been losing large numbers of livestock to wolves that roam the high country. “They’re all over,” said Lloyd Knight, executive vice president of the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association (ICA). “The whole state is having issues and has been for some time.” Initially, when the wolves were introduced to the area, environmentalists said that they would pose no problems. “There are problems in our livestock industry because of them. It’s not fair for our producers
by WLJ
2006 October 30
The livestock industry has faced a number of technological advancements in the last decade. All were designed to provide producers with options to improve efficiency, quality, and profitability in their herds. One such technological advancement is sexed semen. Using sexed semen technology can help increase herd size and quality, and even help limit the incidences of calving dystocia. The process of actually sorting the semen is slow and relatively expensive. The most accurate way to sort semen is by using a flow cytometer. The female X chromosome contains 3-4 percent more DNA than the male’s Y chromosome. The semen is
2006 October 30
Do not cut out tags The other day I was visiting with a producer who wanted carcass information on the calves he sold. His frustration was directed at the failure of the system. None of the performance data from his calves was coming back to him. He tagged his calves with electronic identification (EID) tags and followed all the appropriate steps, but nothing happened. The principal reason was the electronic ID tags in his calves had been cut out when the calves arrived at the feed yard. Sometimes the message needs to be very blunt: “Do not cut out electronic identification tags,
by WLJ
2006 October 30
Orchestrating Resources You know the scene; everyone arrives early for the musical. People are dressed up and ready to enjoy an evening on the town. The crowds gather in the concession area to mingle and see who else in town was dragged to the performance by their spouse. As much as some of the people don’t want to be there they all know that the music will be interesting listening. Something happens when the conductor stands in front of the orchestra and taps his baton on the music stand. It’s as if the attention of everyone in the orchestra diverts
by WLJ
2006 October 30
The new players The cattle markets have been playing mind games with everyone over the past few weeks. The corn markets have had a nice little rally, pushing cash corn over $3, which finally has cattle feeders a little concerned. Normally, this would be a short term issue affecting the cattle markets but with the aggressive nature of the ethanol business, it’s almost certain that the grain markets will undergo significant, long term changes. Those changes will also have a great impact on livestock feeding. How will the business change? No one knows for sure, but it is reassuring that some
by WLJ
2006 October 30
— Additional price increases expected to further pressure market. The recent run up in corn prices has had corn users scrambling to lock in prices if they haven’t already done so. Analysts are encouraging the move, saying the price could be set to rise higher when USDA releases the next corn crop update next month. Many analysts are predicting the harvest estimate to be revised lower as a result of lower than expected yields, particularly in portions of Iowa. Dan Childs, ag economist with the Noble Foundation at Ardmore, OK, speaking at the Greater Oklahoma Farm Show recently said producers are