March 8, 2022
Here are 5 stories from across the United States and globe that could impact your ranch and might even warm your heart a little.
1. Gene-edited beef cattle gets the green light in U.S.A.
U.S. regulators have cleared the way this week for the sale of beef from gene-edited cattle in coming years after the Food and Drug Administration concluded the animals do not raise any safety concerns.
The cattle by Recombinetics are the third genetically altered animals given the green light for human consumption in the U.S.
The cattle reviewed by the FDA had genes altered with a technology called CRISPR to have short, slick coats that let them more easily withstand hot weather. Cattle that aren’t stressed by heat might pack on weight more easily, making for more efficient meat production.
It’s not clear when the beef will be available for sale for home or restaurants but the FDA says it could reach the market in as early as two years.
2. Border problems—with animal health
Low water levels are allowing tick-infested wildlife to easily cross border from Mexico, threatening South Texas cattle.
At 82 years old, longtime rancher Renato Ramirez knows the South Texas borderlands. And on a recent day as he looked across the Rio Grande to Mexico he fretted.
A group of cattle was grazing on the banks, a stone’s throw from him, and he worried they would cross into the United States.
The Rio Grande River is very low right now due to drought conditions. If cows come across, they could bring ticks that could infect herds owned by South Texas ranchers. Cattle fever, a severe and often fatal disease is transmitted by ticks.
Worse, ranchers are seeing deer that are continually crossing the international river and Lake Falcon, which also borders Mexico, infected with the fever ticks that could spread to herds.
“The fever tick comes on the deer because the deer cross back and forth,” said Renato Ramirez, dressed in well-worn cowboy boots, jeans and a jean jacket.
“The fever tick carries that fever that kills the cows and once you got it you got to eradicate the whole herd,” he said as he showed Border Report one of his four ranches in this rural part of South Texas.
“The cattle cross and so they bring in the fever tick,” Ramirez said.
Water levels at Falcon Reservoir on Friday were just 23% of capacity, or 259 feet, according to the Texas Water Development Board.
The water should be about 40 feet higher.
And that means the boundary between Mexico and Texas is closer and it is easier for wildlife to cross.
3. Montana cattle group opposes state giving Colorado wolves for reintroduction
The Montana Stockgrowers Association has asked its state wildlife agency to prevent wolves from being captured and released into Colorado as part of the Centennial State's voter-mandated reintroduction plan.
It's not that the 135-year-old livestock producer organization is supportive of keeping Montana's wolves in the state. Instead, in a letter to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks the organization voiced its concern for the livestock producers of Colorado as a sign of solidarity.
"Giving Colorado wolves from Montana isn’t going to solve the wolf issues in our state, but it will significantly impact livestock producers in Colorado,'' Jim Steinbeisser, the association's president, said in the letter. “MSGA represents ranching families throughout the state, and we have experienced first-hand the impacts this apex predator has on our family ranches.''
Eric Odell, Colorado Parks and Wildlife's species conservation program manager, previously told the Coloradoan the state's preference is to capture wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming for reintroduction by the end of 2023. The three states have an estimated 3,000 wolves and hunting the predator is legal in each state.
Odell said preliminary plans call for eight to 10 wolves to be released into the state annually over a three- to four year-period, at which time reintroduction would pause to assess how wolves are doing in the state.
Greg Lemon, the Montana wildlife agency's spokesperson, said the state has not received an official request for wolves from Colorado.
4. Six-generation farm family opens beef packing plant
The Naeve family have been raising cattle for six generations. Now, they are taking the next step. They opened a beef processing plant in Comanche, Iowa to package and sell their own meat. It started as an idea two years ago and it’s now a reality. Check out the whole story with video.
5. Australia’s cattle nightmare
Australia suffered one more hit to their cattle markets during the first week of March. Heavy rainfall created severe flooding. It stopped the transportation of cattle to the markets because of flooded roads and in other areas stranded cattle or even moved them to areas such as the beach, if they didn’t die before getting that far.
Farmers in Queensland and northern New South Wales have rushed to relocate their herds to higher ground as rain that began falling in biblical proportions last weekend threatens loss of livestock. The floods have forced temporary closures of major meat abattoirs, including JBS SA’s flagship Dinmore plant, which exports to more than 50 countries. The plant is set to restart on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the company said.
Already hamstrung by labor shortages and shrinking margins on account of soaring cattle prices and high input costs, processors are set to experience the brunt of the weather-related havoc as damaged roads remain shut, leaving staff stranded at home, according to Matt Dalgleish, manager of commodity market insights at Thomas Elder Markets.
And a bonus for this week. A broken-down trucker transporting cattle found himself called into service as a vet when he noticed that his cargo was about to grow: One of his charges was in labor.
Luck was on the side of both the trucker and the cow, in the form of Omaha Police Officer Jackie Sheets, who happened to be the one to respond to the trucker’s breakdown call on the evening of March 3.
Sheets had grown up on a farm, and immediately started channeling her inner James Herriot. Making quick use of those childhood skills, she pivoted from cop to veterinary midwife as she found herself delivering a calf.
Police occasionally are called upon to deliver human children, but a bovine baby was another thing entirely.
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