5 Trending headlines in beef industry

Let’s look at some of the news impacting cattle producers.

Kristy Foster Seachrist, Digital editor

December 7, 2022

7 Min Read
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The mysterious deaths of cattle in Colorado, drought conditions and a rabid cow in South Carolina causes chaos—all this and more in this week’s headlines news.

  1. North Texas was labeled as abnormally dry or in a drought until late November, but the Drought Monitor's new map from last week shows improvement across the region.The recent rain should bring some relief after months of dry conditions that were slowing crop productionincreasing the risk of grass fires and drying up pastures. However, In the Great Plains, there's not much relief in sight from a historic drought.


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  1. There is still no answer as to what is killing cattle in northwest Colorado. About 40 cattle, cows and calves, have been killed by a mysterious creature that has left no trace in the town of Meeker in northwestern Colorado (USA) since October, reports the New York Post. It does not appear to be bacteria or necessarily all wolf related. The investigation continues.


  1. Three people and more than 40 animals were recently exposed to a rabid cow found in South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said Nov. 30. The calf was sent to the University of Georgia’s lab for testing on and was confirmed to have rabies two days later. The animal was discovered near Red Feather Road and Pine Grove Road in Seneca, according to the release. That’s in Oconee County, not far from Lake Hartwell and the Savannah River. In addition to the people, 22 cows and 21 calves in the same pasture were potentially exposed to the deadly virus, according to the release. DHEC said the state of South Carolina veterinarian has been consulted, but information about the fate of the other animals was not available.


         4. Using smart technology to monitor the health, reproductivity, location, and environmental conditions of cattle can help with food safety and supply chain efficiency, but this monitoring adds energy cost to an already highly emissive industry. To combat this, researchers publishing in the journal iScience on December 1 have designed a wearable smart device for cows that captures the kinetic energy created by even their smallest movements and uses it to power smart ranch technology. "On a ranch, monitoring environmental and health information of cattle can help prevent diseases and improve the efficiency of pasture breeding and management," says co-author Zutao Zhang, an energy researcher at Southwest Jiaotong University in China. "This information can include oxygen concentration, air temperature and humidity, amount of exercise, reproductive cycles, disease, and milk production."

The team's smart ranch design involves cows wearing small sensory devices around their ankles and necks that are powered by everything cows do as they go about their regular ranch activities. "There is a tremendous amount of kinetic energy that can be harvested in cattle's daily movements, such as walking, running, and even neck movement," says co-author Yajia Pan, also an energy researcher at Southwest Jiaotong University. Once captured, the energy is stored in a lithium battery and used to power the device.

"Our kinetic energy harvester specially harvests the kinetic energy of weak motion," says Zhang. The team's design is unique because it contains a motion enhancement mechanism that uses magnets and a pendulum to amplify small movements the cows make.

Zhang hopes that implementing smart technology in ranches will be part of a larger effort to improve the world's food systems. "With the development of 5G technology and the Internet of Things, the operation of the entire industrial chain of the food system is more intelligent and transparent," he says.

Zhang and his colleagues also tested the devices on humans and found that a light jog was enough to power temperature measurement in the device. The researchers see future applications in sports monitoring, health care, smart home, and the construction of human wireless sensor networks.

"Kinetic energy is everywhere in the environment—leaves swaying in the wind, the movement of people and animals, the undulation of waves, the rotation of the earth—these phenomena all contain a lot of kinetic energy," says Zhang, "We shouldn't let this energy go to waste."


5. Several livestock producers including a beef producer have been fined by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in recent weeks for failing to comply with manure management requirements, according to DNR records.

Most of the violations pertained to required annual updates of manure management plans, which determine how much manure can be applied to fields to avoid excessive application. That can increase the likelihood of stream pollution.

“The (manure management plan) submittals are a crucial aspect of the DNR’s animal feeding operation program and the compliance fees are crucial to the budget of the animal feeding program,” according to recent DNR orders.

The livestock producers are also required to sample field soil every four years to develop a phosphorus index that helps determine application rates.

Those who didn’t comply with the requirements, according to DNR, and were fined in recent weeks included:

  • WKC Farms Inc. of Minden in Pottawattamie County. WKC has an animal confinement with 800 cattle and was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for seven late submissions of manure management plan updates from 2014 to 2022. It further missed deadlines for submitting phosphorus index plans in 2017 and 2021.

  • Sean Dolan of Masonville in Buchanan County. Dolan operates an animal confinement with 1,500 swine and was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for 11 late submissions of manure management plan updates from 2006 to 2022. His phosphorus index plans were also late in 2009, 2013 and 2021.

  • Cory Dornbier of Wesley in Kossuth County. Dornbier operates two confinement buildings with 3,720 swine and was fined $3,000 for five late filings of manure management plan updates from 2013 to 2022.

  • Nick Grobe, of Oakland in Pottawattamie County. Grobe operates one confinement building with 2,400 swine and was fined $2,000 for submitting four late manure management plan updates from 2018 to 2022. The phosphorus index plan was also late in 2021.

  • Mike Hejlik of Britt in Hancock County. Hejlik operates two confinement buildings with 2,400 swine and was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for eight late submissions of manure management plan updates from 2012 to 2022. His phosphorus index plans were also late in 2013 and 2017.

  • John McDermott of Cascade in Dubuque County. McDermott operates four confinement buildings with 5,200 swine and was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for eight late submissions of manure management plan updates from 2010 to 2022. His phosphorus index plans were also late in 2016 and 2021.

  • Scott Tapper of Webster City in Hamilton County. Tapper has five confinement buildings with about 3,060 swine and was fined $5,000 for 12 late submissions of manure management plan updates in from 2009 to 2020. He also submitted a late phosphorus index plan in 2021. That year, the DNR determined that Tapper’s manure application rates had been improperly calculated, which “resulted in the application of manure and commercial fertilizer in excess of the nitrogen use levels necessary to achieve optimum crop yields,” according to a recent DNR order. The DNR also determined that Tapper had applied manure after his certification expired in 2015.

  • And those are 5 headlines, you don’t want to miss this week.

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