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Articles from 2011 In January


Exceptional carcass and performance traits available at 2011 IPT Bull Sale

URBANA – Commercial cow-calf producers and seedstock breeders interested in improving the performance and carcass traits of their herd need to attend the 2011 Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale. The sale is leading off the 24th Annual Illinois Beef Expo.

The sale is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 24, at 11 a.m., and will be held in the Livestock Center at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

“This event will mark the 43rd annual sale,” said Dave Seibert, IPT Bull Sale Manager. “A total of 4,304 bulls valued at more than $7 million dollars have been sold at the past 42 sales.”

The superior performance of the bulls sold through this sale is verified by the superb weaning and yearling weights that include many adjusted weaning weights over 800 pounds, a few in the 900 pound range and a sale record high adjusted weaning weight of 1,012, Seibert said.

“Those weights are backed up by a number of weaning weight expected progeny differences (EPDs) that fall in the top 1 percentile of the breed,” he added. “There are similar adjusted yearling weights that are in the 1,300- and 1,400-pound range with a few in the 1,500-pound area for yearling weight. Likewise, the EPDs for yearling weight are equally as impressive.”

The bulls offered in the sale excel in many carcass traits such as marbling and ribeye area.

“Marbling EPDs in the .60, .70, and over .80 are exceptional and can be found in the Angus offering,” Seibert said. “As well, elite marbling EPD figures are being offered in the Simmental and Hereford breeds. Producers searching for additional muscling and cutability will want to evaluate the exceptional ribeye EPDs offered in the sale.”

Producers searching for figures that combine all the traits together can evaluate the “Multi-Trait Economic Selection Indexes” offered in each of the breeds. These indexes are expressed in dollar differences between progeny and could be the most valuable figures provided in the sale, he said. These traits will be listed as $Wean and $Beef Indexes for the Angus, All Purpose and Terminal Indexes for Simmental, and Baldy Material and Certified Beef Indexes for the Herefords. Many of the bulls offer Economic Value Indexes at the very top of their breed.

The order of sale will be determined by a six-trait Power Score system that utilizes the EPD traits of birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, maternal milk, marbling and ribeye area. The Power Score will be calculated for the bull sale based on the “Percentile Rank” for the six EPDs. Seibert said the scoring system is similar to golf with the lower scores being more genetically desirable.

The University of Illinois Extension and the U of I Animal Sciences Department, along with the consigning purebred breeders, will be sponsoring this sale. Vita Ferm, the Illinois Angus Association and the Illinois Simmental Association also serve as co-sponsors of this event.

For additional information about the sale or bulls consigned, contact Dave Seibert at 309-339-3694. The sale catalog is available as a hard copy or on the web at . A sale catalog can be obtained by contacting Seibert at 300 North Street, Washington, IL 61571 or by e-mailing a request to

China Faces More Difficulty Meeting Food Demand

China will have more difficulty feeding itself in the coming years as expanding demand, spurred by increased urbanization, strains resources, Vice Minister of Agriculture Chen Xiaohua says.

As more people move into cities and towns, the supply of farm products is limited by declining productivity of rural labor, a worsening natural environment and more extreme weather, Chen said in a transcript of a speech released by the department on Jan. 26, according to its website.

During 2011-2015, more than half of the country’s population will be living in cities or towns, Chen said in the speech, without elaborating.

To read the entire article, link here.

Colorado House Panel Pushes Ag Tax Exemption

A Colorado House committee voted unanimously Monday to reinstate a tax exemption on agricultural products that was suspended last year as part of the budget-cutting process.

In doing so, the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee made the first in-road to repealing the “Dirty Dozen” tax-exemption suspensions, worth $140 million, that left the business community up in arms in 2010. The fate of the measure remains unsure going forward, however.

House Bill 1005, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, would reinstate a tax break given on items that farmers and ranchers use in production of their crops or livestock. Those include materials from pesticides to veterinary medicines to bull semen.

To read the entire article, link here.

Another Lean Year For Cattle Supplies In The U.S.

Given the neutral to bearish view from the USDA cattle inventory report, some traders may be able to receive a better price for selling puts if prices decline this week. The premium received would be the maximum potential gain on the trade. Given the risks involved in selling naked options, traders should have an exit strategy in place should the position move against them. One such strategy would be to buy back the short option if the option premium trades at three times the amount received for selling the option originally.

Not to be outdone by its porcine brethren, Live cattle futures have been stampeding higher, rising over $23/cwt. since June of last year. Good demand for beef and the potential for additional exports to South Korea, which has destroyed about 10% of its cattle due to the spread of hoof and mouth disease, have futures prices trading at a premium to the cash market price. Prices have moved of their contract highs the past few sessions, as traders evened-up their positions ahead of this past Friday’s release of the USDA’s semi-annual cattle inventory report, which showed 99.582 million head as of Jan 1st.

This was 1% below last year’s totals, and slightly higher than the average pre-report estimate of a 1.4% decline. Although the numbers were above expectations, this is the fourth year in a row where cattle inventories have fallen. The report is expected to have a bullish influence on deferred Feeder Cattle futures, but may initially pressure near-term Live Cattle futures. However, with the U.S. cattle herd now at 52-year lows, any significant price weakness this week may be met with fresh buying, as the supply outlook appears like it will remain tight again in 2011.

To read the entire article, link here.

Improper Cow Nutrition Proves Costly For Beef Producers

Thin cows can be economically devastating as beef producers head into spring calving season, says Purdue Extension beef specialist Ron Lemenager.

"Spring-calving cows need to be in moderate body condition at the time of calving because it has a pretty significant effect on how quickly these cows will return to estrus after calving, and subsequently, when or if they conceive," he says. "If cows are thin at calving, producers can expect long postpartum intervals, which means they will calve later the following season."

That means instead of having a 365-day calving interval, producers may face 13- to 14-month intervals and, ultimately, a loss of productivity.

To read the entire article, link here.

Oregon Rancher Killed By Cow At Cattle Auction

An Oregon cattle rancher died after being tossed by a cow that became loose in the parking lot of the Eugene Livestock Auction. The Register-Guard reports that Mervin McCarl landed head-first on the pavement after being tossed into the air by one of the animals. The animal was one of three cows that got loose as they were being loaded into a truck about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, says livestock auction owner Bruce Anderson.

While accidents will always happen and there’s no indication that poor animal handling was exercised in this tragic incident, it does underscore the importance and need of being aware and careful when working around livestock. Animal behaviorist and facilities designer Temple Grandin offers these pointers on working around animals. And, Nebraska DVM Dave Sjeklocha offers his thoughts on good animal handling tips here.

Dietary Guidelines Affirm Role Of Meat And Poultry In A Healthy Balanced Diet

The American Meat Institute (AMI) says that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans affirm that meat and poultry products are important components of a balanced, healthy diet.

“It is noteworthy that the government’s previous recommendation that consumers eat 5-7 oz. from the meat, poultry and beans group will remain unchanged. This makes sense because the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s documents show that the meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts group is the only group that is consumed in the recommended amount,” says AMI Executive Vice President James H. Hodges, who also serves as president of the American Meat Institute Foundation.

“While some people are under the impression that Americans over-consume meat and poultry products, the most recent nutrition data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) show that on average, men consume 6.9 oz. of meat and poultry/day and women consume 4.4 oz.,” Hodges says.

To read the entire article, link here.

Claire Danes Wins SAG Award For Portrayal Of Temple Grandin

Claire Danes, the actress who portrayed Temple Grandin, Ph.D., in HBO’s biopic “Temple Grandin,” has been awarded the Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a TV movie or miniseries.

The award completes a perfect sweep for Danes, who also won an Emmy and Golden Globe for her performance.

The movie paints a picture of Grandin’s perseverance while struggling with the isolating challenges of autism and profiles her groundbreaking work in animal handling.

To read the entire article, link here.

Secretary Vilsack Made The Right Decision

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the right decision to allow sales of Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa to continue.

There has been considerable angst and trepidation over the past 30 days after Vilsack said he wanted to forage a co-existence between the anti-biotech not-so-silent minority and conventional agriculture. It was an admirable goal to try to head-off lawsuits before they happen.

What Vilsack failed to realize is that lawsuits from the likes of the Center for Food Safety are money in the bank. Without lawsuits, they do not get money from foundations and the government. They do not care about the environment. They are strictly self-serving, arrogant extremists feeding at the government trough and feeding on tax dodging foundations. It was obvious shortly after Vilsack announced his plan that the anti-biotech crowd was not interested in compromise. They felt like Vilsack opened the door for them to make totally absurd demands. He slammed that door when he decided to deregulate RR alfalfa.

To read the entire article, link here.

Research Reveals Value Of Selecting Calm Cattle

Recent research has demonstrated the value of cattle with calm temperaments and the price producers pay for keeping wilder animals in their herds.

A five-year Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station study found that cows with poor temperaments can affect the entire herd and reduce producers’ bottom lines.

Rhonda Vann, MAFES associate research professor in Mississippi State University’s Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, led the study in Raymond at the Brown Loam Branch Experiment Station.

“We suggest that producers evaluate their herds and the cattle they buy,” Vann says. “You don’t want a cow or steer that’s unreceptive, but one that’s a bit more docile. They are going to have less sickness, gain weight better, do better in pastures and be more productive for the producer throughout their entire life span.”

To read the entire article, link here.

Here are links to a pair of BEEF stories by Temple Grandin on scoring temperament:

Temperament Scoring Made Easy

Easy Does It