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Articles from 2010 In October

Capturing Elk For Disease Testing

Montana wildlife officials plan to capture 500 female elk over the next five years to track the spread of a disease that can threaten cattle.

The study is scheduled to begin this winter and will target brucellosis, which causes some animals to abort their young.

The disease is confined in the U.S. to the Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Periodic infections over the last decade have prompted federal restrictions on the three states' interstate beef trade.

To read the entire article, link here.

Cattle Prices Stay Strong, But Watch Corn

A Texas AgriLife Extension Service livestock economist has forecasts continued strength in cattle prices heading into 2011, but warns to keep a watchful eye on the corn supply.

David Anderson spoke at the recent Brock Faulkner Cattleman's Clinic/Doug Davidson Hay Show in Bryan, TX. He says that cattle numbers will be fewer over the next decade, but the price of corn will dictate the level and spread in calf prices.

"I think we will continue seeing beef production and cattle numbers drop off in the next couple of years," Anderson says. "We are forecast to produce 25.4 billion lbs. of beef in 2011 vs. 25.9 billion lbs. in 2010. That will lead to increases in price, but it also depends on corn prices and (their effect on) calf prices."

To read the entire article, link here.

Study Examines Sodium Levels in American Diets

Despite the commonly held belief that sodium consumption has skyrocketed in the last 20 years and the decades of public education efforts warning Americans about adverse health risks associated with consuming high sodium diets, levels have remained virtually unchanged since 1957, according to a new study by Harvard University.

Thirty-eight, 24-hour urine sodium excretion studies, published between 1957 and 2003, were analyzed by a multivariate random-effects model. Sodium excretions were found to be unchanged throughout the study years. In the last 50 years, Americans were found to consistently consume 3526 mg of sodium/day. Researchers did note that sodium levels exceeded the recommended sodium intake levels of 2,300 mg/day for adults and 1,500 mg/day for those who are at risk or have high blood pressure.

To read the entire study, link here.

Irrigated grass pays

Irrigated grass pays


David Fischer was tired of hauling nutrients off of his land. The farmer from Fordyce in Cedar County wanted to put something back, so he converted irrigated alfalfa to certified organic pasture. On 800 acres of land that he now manages, he allows the cattle to spread the nutrients for him and do much of his harvesting.

“I wanted to get everything back in the ground,” he says. He rotational-grazes his own cows and custom-grazes yearling cattle for other producers on irrigated acres under center pivot and on dryland fields.

At a glance

• Fordyce farmer uses pivots to increase forages for grazing.

• Irrigated pasture requires intense grazing management.

• Producers of grass-fed cattle need right genetics in herd.

“In 2008, when fuel prices were going up, my son and I were windrowing and baling 650 acres of hay,” Fischer says. Fuel expenses were eating up profits. After attending grazing management meetings, he decided to seed the irrigated land to a cool-season mixture, including orchardgrass, Garrison creeping foxtail, perennial rye, intermediate wheatgrass, alfalfa and white clover. He seeds annuals like oats, rye and forage sorghum for grazing on dryland fields.

“We have the grass now, so it was important to have the right animals to graze it,” he says. Australian breeds like the smaller-framed lowline Angus crossed with hardy Murray greys provide the ability to finish easily on grass and the hardiness for a tough climate.

Fischer started his own herd by purchasing lowline Angus and Murray grey heifers from his neighbor and grass-fed cattle producer, Martin Kleinschmit.

“These cattle are known for calving ease and great temperament,” says Kleinschmit. For producers of grass-fed beef, it is important to have cattle that are low-maintenance and can finish in 24 to 30 months on grass and forages, he says.

LOW COST, BETTER RETURNS: Cattle do the harvesting and spread the nutrients in David Fischer’s irrigated pasture system.

This article published in the July, 2010 edition of NEBRASKA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.


Mycoplasma bovis can be a problem for any operation.

The line between states and counties doesn’t mean a thing to disease — especially when talking about particularly costly challenges like Mycoplasma bovis. If there are cattle in the area, then producers should be concerned about the bacteria and disease related to M. bovis.

“Studies show that presence of M. bovis goes from below 5 percent at arrival in feedlots and backgrounding operations to 70 to 80 percent in the first three to four weeks,” says Daniel Scruggs, DVM, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health. “M. bovis is one of the most commonly isolated organisms from cattle and often fails to respond to respiratory treatment, but its presence doesn’t always result in disease. Even though the factors that lead to disease yet to be determined, M. bovis is still extremely frequent. If commingled cattle are part of an operation, then M. bovis probably is as well.”

One of the most common infectious agents connected to clinical cases of bovine respiratory disease (BRD), M. bovis often leads to joint infections, ear infections,1 weight loss, pneumonia and fever.2 However, once clinical signs are obvious, it’s often too late to treat it effectively, regardless of what you use, Dr. Scruggs says.

“Once you see signs of M. bovis-related disease, your ship for meaningful intervention has already sailed,” he says. “Early in the course of BRD, there’s no way to tell with confidence if you’re dealing with M. bovis, Mannheimia haemolytica or Pasteurella multocida. Studies show that M. bovis is a player early in the disease process, so it makes sense to use control and treatment programs shown to be effective on M. bovis in newly arrived cattle.”

Dr. Scruggs says producers should pay close attention to classes of cattle that are most likely to develop M. bovis-related disease, including cattle that have been commingled, small cattle, and cattle that have been nutritionally stressed or were particularly stressed when received.

“If producers suspect M. bovis¬-related disease, they should consult their veterinarians for proper diagnosis and treatment options,” Dr. Scruggs says. “And, they should consider using an antimicrobial that is labeled for both treatment and control of M. bovis.”

DRAXXIN® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution is the only antimicrobial labeled for treatment and control of BRD due to M. bovis — and one treatment can be effective for up to 14 days. In one study, 85 percent of cattle were treated successfully after a single injection with virtually no difference in mortality rates or average daily gain.3

“Control of M. bovis is very important,” Dr. Scruggs says. “You don’t ever want to be in a salvage situation.”

Important Safety Information: Do not use DRAXXIN in calves to be processed for veal. A pre-slaughter withdrawal time has not been determined for pre-ruminating calves. Effects on reproductive performance, pregnancy and lactation have not been determined. DRAXXIN has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 18 days.



Jaylor is proud to introduce the new mini-mixer series with: self-propelled, trailer, small flat bed truck mount, and stationary models. These mixers are ideal for small herd operators to feed TMR rations and improve their feed efficiency. They also enable large herd operators to create special rations for dry and other special needs groups.

"We are very proud to introduce the mini-series because they’re built with the same long life and durability design as the rest of the Jaylor product line, but with added versatility for both small herd operators and special diet needs on large herd operations" says Jake Tamminga, Jaylor Founder and President.

"We were overwhelmed by the interest from small ruminant farmers. These mini mixers will fill a void in the previously available feeding systems for these operators!"

In keeping with Jaylor’s focus on nutrition, the mini-series is powered by a reliable industrial Briggs and Stratton Vanguard engine and designed to process small hay bales, forages, and other ingredients; then cut and mix a consistent, nutritious TMR.

The mini-series self-propelled model has an all wheel drive, hydrostatic drive system which allows the mixer to be easily manoeuvred in tight alley ways. The mini-series is also available in a stationary electric drive system and a self-powered trailer option that is easily towed by utility vehicles, such as ATV’s and larger garden tractors.

For now the mixer is available in 50 cubic feet, with 100 cubic feet being developed for availability in 2011.

For more information please contact:



[email protected]


Study Dispels Common Myth About Inactivated Vaccines

Scientific journal report shows old misconceptions don’t apply to modern products

Greensboro, N.C., October 6, 2010 --

A recent study published in the scientific journal Veterinary Therapeutics provides new evidence that a long-standing perception about inactivated vaccines has become outdated and inaccurate. The study showed that Vira Shield® 6—an inactivated vaccine—produced complete and long-lasting immunity against bovine viral diarrhea virus by stimulating both branches of the bovine immune system.1

Results of the study challenge a long-held belief among many cattle industry professionals that was founded long before some of the current inactivated vaccines, including Vira Shield 6, were even on the market.

“The old belief was that inactivated vaccines did not provide as strong a cell-mediated immune response as modified-lives,” said Elliot Stevens, MS, DVM, Ph.D, a veterinary medicine research specialist with Rural Technologies, Inc. in Brookings, S.D. “That may have been true 25 years ago, but it’s woefully outdated and inaccurate today.”

To provide the most effective immune response against viral diseases like BVD, IBR and BRSV a vaccine needs to produce two distinct types of immunity—humoral and cell-mediated. The study published in Veterinary Therapeutics demonstrates that

Vira Shield 6, the leading inactivated cattle vaccine on the market today, provides both primary types of immunity.

Advances Driven by Human Health Research

Advances in viral immunology and how vaccines work to prevent common cattle diseases like BVD often start with human medicine. Over the last two decades much of the research surrounding human vaccines has focused on inactivated, or non-infectious products, because they are widely recognized as being safer than modified-lives. New, improved technologies and adjuvants used in human inactivated vaccines are often quickly applied to animal vaccines.

“In the medical research and scientific communities, the knowledge base on immunology is doubling every three to five years,” said Stevens. “That’s really an incredible pace if you stop and think about it. We’re light years ahead of where we were as recently as the 1990s and the vaccines we’re using today are much more sophisticated.”

What hasn’t kept pace with advances in viral immunology, however, is communication with producers to explain how modern vaccines have evolved to become even better at preventing cattle diseases. Consequently, some of these long-held misconceptions still linger, despite recent evidence that proves they are no longer accurate.

“I think the perception that modified-live vaccines provide a better immune response is still out there because that’s what we’ve been told for so long,” said Carlos Bonnot, DVM, owner of Wharton Veterinary Clinic. “But studies support it’s obviously not true any longer.”

The study published in Veterinary Therapeutics was sponsored by Novartis Animal Health. Doug Scholz, DVM, director of veterinary services, Novartis Animal Health, said the study supports previous research into inactivated vaccines and cell-mediated immunity.

“The results of this study are consistent with other research that clearly shows properly adjuvanted, inactivated vaccines—and specifically Vira Shield 6—provide a highly effective cell-mediated immune response,” he said.

“In fact, a previous study conducted at Iowa State University2 found that an adjuvanted, inactivated vaccine provided a much stronger cell-mediated immune response to BRSV than the modified-live vaccine it was compared to,” added Scholz.

More, Safer Choices for Producers

As more producers have become aware the old dogma surrounding inactivated vaccines isn’t always correct, they have taken advantage of added safety benefits these products offer. Scholz said that abortions have become an increasing threat for pregnant cows and producers can reduce this risk by using inactivated vaccines in breeding animals.

“Veterinary diagnosticians have seen a significant increase in the number of abortions resulting from IBR and BVD in the last five years,” said Scholz. “And many of those cases have been linked back to improper use of modified-live vaccines.”

The rapid increase in abortion rates has raised serious concern at veterinary diagnostic laboratories. In the August 1, 2010 edition of Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a letter to the editor from two diagnosticians representing major universities suggested that some modified-live vaccines designed for pregnant cattle should be withdrawn from the market.

For his part, Bonnot recommends using an inactivated vaccine for pregnant cattle. “We’ve been using Vira Shield products for at least five years now and have seen a significant increase in reproductive efficiency,” said Bonnot. “The improvement has been dramatic in some herds. It’s safe, cost-effective and provides immunity against the major bacterial and viral reproductive diseases in our area.”

About Novartis Animal Health US, Inc.

Headquartered in Greensboro, NC, Novartis Animal Health US, Inc. researches, develops and commercializes leading animal treatments that meet the needs of pet owners, farmers and veterinarians. Part of the Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis Animal Health global organization, the US business is the largest of the 40 countries where Novartis Animal Health operates. For more information about Novartis Animal Health US, Inc., please consult


Reading, understanding vaccine labels can help ensure healthy cattle.

Vaccine labels contain a wealth of information, and failing to read vaccine label indications and understanding label claims may leave cattle vulnerable to disease.

“Vaccine labels and claims sometimes seem complicated, but they do contain a lot of important information,” says J.P. Pollreisz, DVM, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health. “That’s why it’s essential that producers talk with their veterinarians and always read the label before choosing and administering vaccines.”

In fact, Dr. Pollreisz adds, just by reading the label, producers can find information about how to handle and administer vaccines as well as which cattle can be vaccinated. They also can find precautions, when vaccines should be given and withdrawal information.

In addition to administration and handling information, vaccine labels include one of five United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved claims for each vaccine component. The five possible label claims include prevention of infection, prevention of disease, aids in disease prevention, aids in disease control or other claims. These claims indicate the expected level of performance producers should receive for each disease component in the vaccine.

“A disease challenge model is often used to evaluate the ability of a vaccine to provide protection against the diseases producers are vaccinating against,” Dr. Pollreisz says. “One group of cattle is vaccinated according to label, but with the minimum dose of the vaccine, and another group is held as a control group. Once cattle have been challenged, and evaluated, the label claim is granted based on the degree of protection that was achieved.”

For economically important diseases like bovine respiratory disease (BRD), Dr. Pollreisz recommends producers look for vaccines that can offer the highest level of protection available and have a demonstrated duration of immunity.

“There can be a big difference in the level of protection a vaccine offers from one label claim to the next,” Dr. Pollreisz says. “For example, a vaccine labeled to prevent disease will be highly effective in preventing clinical disease. However, while a vaccine labeled to aid in the prevention of disease may prevent disease by a significant amount, it still may be less than that required to support a claim of disease prevention.”

As part of a comprehensive respiratory vaccination program, Bovi-Shield GOLD® 5 is labeled to prevent respiratory disease caused by infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) for at least nine months when administered subcutaneously. What’s more, Bovi-Shield GOLD 5 is the only vaccine to offer this level of protection from IBR respiratory disease.

Additionally, Bovi-Shield GOLD 5 helps protect against respiratory disease caused by bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) virus Types 1 and 2 and offers a duration of immunity of at least nine months. In addition, Bovi-Shield GOLD 5 helps protect against other viruses that can lead to BRD, like parainfluenza type 3 (PI3) virus and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV).

“Knowing the information and facts about vaccine labels helps ensure that vaccines are effective,” Dr. Pollreisz says. “It also can help producers choose the appropriate vaccines for their operations and goals.”

Meat Matters

Argentina Presents Lesson In Market Interference

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes it’s browner. Just ask cattle producers in Argentina and Australia. They’ve endured the worst droughts in their lifetime, and it is one reason why the global cattle herd is shrinking.

BEEF readers who have visited Argentina know what a dynamic beef industry it has. Most people come back raving about the great beef and the glorious pampas on which cattle are raised. It’s little wonder that Argentines were the world’s No. 1 beef eaters. Heck, even tennis pro Juan Martin del Potro attributed his winning last year’s U.S. Open to eating beef in his hometown of Tandil.

Argentina’s industry, though, has also been hit by pervasive government interference in its cattle and beef markets. Imagine if Washington suddenly decreed a limit on U.S. beef exports in an attempt to keep the price of beef down at home. That’s what occurred in Argentina.

Several years of drought forced many producers to sell their herds. But others have also turned their fields over to more profitable soybeans, blaming the government for eroding ranching profit margins with export curbs and price caps.

Some reports say the Argentine herd has declined by 10 million head in the past four years, to 48-49 million head. Beef production is set to fall 24% this year to about 2.6 million metric tons, which continues to restrict Argentina’s beef exports. It was the world’s fourth-largest exporter in 2009, shipping 653,000 metric tons, but is expected to slip to eighth place this year.

Not surprisingly, Argentines’ beefy appetites have also taken a beating. Per-capita consumption fell 18% in the first seven months of 2010 vs. last year, and Uruguayans are now the biggest per-capita beef eaters.

Australian producers weathered their drought much better. The national herd fell by only 1 million head in two years. Producers have just experienced their wettest winter in years, which has produced near record-high cattle prices. That’s because the prospect of ample green grass is causing producers to hold back cattle.

Most Australian producers are much happier than two years ago. But some aren’t, and they’re demanding that Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) – the industry’s main marketing body – be scrapped.

The parallels with this move, and producer discontent here in the U.S. over the beef checkoff and support of USDA’s proposed regulation on livestock marketing, are strikingly similar. The fringe group leading the attack against MLA sounds just like certain groups here in the U.S.

All these groups have things in common. Their members seem embittered against the rest of the industry. They make wild and erroneous claims against other sectors or entities. They blame others for their supposed woes. And they believe their remedies will cure all their complaints.

What a delusion. These folks don’t realize that their actions will only hurt themselves. Supporting more government restrictions on the market, as in the U.S., or MLA’s dissolution isn’t just pitting producer against producer. It’s forcing the beef industries in both countries to waste precious energy to defend themselves when the real focus should be on how to grow demand for beef so that cattle producers can feel confident about expanding their herds. Some producers see other producers, or packers, as the enemy. But the only real enemy to beef is competing proteins, notably chicken.

The other lesson for U.S. producers is that government interference in the cattle and beef markets can severely damage an industry. Just think back to the beef price freeze under President Nixon. Argentina’s shrinking herd means fewer producers and packers. Beef plants are currently operating at only 60% of capacity. At least 10 have closed and more are likely to do so.

It’s not far-fetched to imagine that kind of scenario here if USDA’s proposed rule takes effect.
-- Steve Kay

GIPSA Head Finds Himself In The Cross Hairs

Several articles came out this week focusing on Dudley Butler and his role in the whole GIPSA rule debate. Admittedly, by simply being in his position as head of GIPSA and a political appointee, his agenda and background are fair game. Plus, his open campaigning for the rule and unprecedented actions virtually assured his integrity and motivation would be attacked.

I’m not sure that his co-founding of a group like the Organization for Competitive Markets, his background as a plaintiff lawyer, and his public comments about his desires to make the GIPSA rule a "litigator’s dream" are anything new. Butler is an ideologue, an activist with an agenda, and he made it known from day one that his goal was to reshape the livestock industry before returning to his practice to litigate those changes.

In fact, these things were so well known that, almost immediately following his appointment, cattlemen’s groups hired their own lawyers to begin to prepare for the legal battles that were likely to to decide the fate of GIPSA and value-based marketing.

But the real story isn’t about the man. It’s about his appointment, and how a political appointee can defy the wishes of Congress and push such dramatic changes to an industry’s marketing environment (whether you agree with them or not), simply through regulatory fiat.

This isn’t something incredibly new. We’ve seen it occur in other agencies – where a zealot commits him or herself to implementing their personal views regardless of what elected officials, statutory restrictions or affected parties think. “I know I’m right and I’m going to make it happen – process be damned.”

This scenario highlights the amazing power of government to affect the size, scope and competitiveness of an industry through regulation. It also underscores why it’s so important that bureaucrats be held accountable to elected officials and voters. Unchecked and unbridled power is a destructive force.

I’d probably argue that no person should ever be given that type of power over another, but if that kind of power is going to be concentrated in one person, we not only should know where he’s coming from but have the means to hold him accountable. Certainly the courts will end up being an arbitrator in these situations, but it becomes a very lengthy checks-and-balances process. Regulatory agencies were never intended to make laws; the process is fundamentally flawed.