Maximizing Winter Grazing Opportunities

The USDA Economic Research Service estimates purchased and harvested feeds make up almost half of the annual cow costs. Because purchased and harvested feeds are such a large proportion of the overall costs making significant reductions in this area will help reduce overall costs. One way to reduce harvested feed costs is to extend the grazing season through the winter. Allowing the cow to harvest the forage is less expensive than mechanically harvesting and feeding forage. This is especially true with today’s high fuel prices. At the University of Nebraska Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory near Whitman, March-calving cows graze native winter range from December through February. These cows are fed 0.3 lbs/day of supplemental protein and experience good pregnancy rates and calf growth performance.

In addition to winter range, grazing of cornstalks during the winter has the potential to reduce harvested feed costs. Historically cornstalks have been an inexpensive feed source and more cornstalks will be produced as a result of greater corn production. University of Nebraska data has shown spring calving cows wintered on cornstalks do not need supplemental protein but this depends on how the cornstalks are managed. A decision support tool has been created to help producers determine appropriate stocking rates, plan acres needed and calculate costs. This tool is called the “Cornstalk."

Walmart Triumphs Against Economic Downslide

Retail sales in the United States fell 2.8 % in October, which is the largest drop on record and another sign that consumers are cutting down in the faltering economy.

This was larger that the declines since October 2001, after the 9/11 tragedy.

The only company that went against the trend was Wal-Mart who had an increase in sales of 2.4% for October on 2007.

The giant retailer, has shown remarkable resilience to go against the trend, which is one more reason that they are the world's largest retailers.

Cattle producers sue to block JBS

The legal arm of the United Stockgrowers of America has filed suit to block the proposed merger of Greeley-based meatpacker JBS Swift and National Beef Packing Co.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois by the Ranchers-Cattleman Action Legal Fund and the Organization for Competitive Markets, follows separate legal actions by the U.S. Justice Department and 17 state attorneys general.

"We believe our involvement will assist the government's case because we can fully represent the views and competitive concerns of farmers, ranchers and feeders who are most affected by this merger," Bill Bullard, CEO of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, said in a statement.

Bullard said his group and the Organization for Competitive Markets have collaborated since March to seek legal action from the Justice Department and numerous state attorneys general, not only against the National Beef acquisition but also JBS' recently approved purchases of Smithfield Beef Group and Loveland-based Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding.

"Because of the profound impacts this proposed merger would have on U.S. cattle producers, the thousands of domestic cattle farmers and ranchers cannot be sideline observers in this historic lawsuit," Bullard said. "Even without the Smithfield and Five Rivers components, this is the largest and most compelling merger ever contemplated in the U.S. cattle industry and it would radically restructure the U.S. cattle markets."

Fred Stokes, executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, said the suit takes the anti-trust action by the Justice Department to a new level. "While we share an interest in defending our U.S. antitrust laws, we also have a unique perspective regarding the adverse effect this merger would have not just on competition as a whole, but on individual cattle producers as well," Stokes said. "We are proud to join this fight to preserve our cattle markets for independent cattle producers."


IGENITY® Partners with North American Limousin Foundation

DULUTH, Ga. — November 14, 2008 — The North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) entered into a distribution agreement with Merial that provides a more convenient option for utilizing the power of the comprehensive IGENITY® profile. The agreement gives Limousin breeders a unique opportunity to put the power of DNA to work in their herds. It also brings beef producers to a significant milestone in the application of the IGENITY profile and the development of marker-assisted expected progeny differences (EPDs).

“The distribution agreement between IGENITY and NALF represents a critical building block in the infrastructure needed for strategic adoption and comprehensive inclusion of genomic information in NALF’s performance program and, ultimately, in genetic evaluation,” says Dr. Kent Andersen, executive vice president, NALF.

This agreement gives Limousin breeders an option to work directly with NALF to order sample collection kits. This agreement also provides Limousin breeders an option for sharing DNA profiles with NALF, which ultimately will be used in the development of marker-assisted EPDs.

Dr. Andersen says this partnership will benefit all users of Limousin genetics.

“NALF salutes the progressive and innovative spirit of collaboration IGENITY has had in bringing this agreement to fruition for the benefit of our members and commercial users of Limousin genetics,” Dr. Andersen says.

Dr. Lauren Hyde, director of performance programs, NALF, says this opportunity helps Limousin breeders use the power of DNA to increase the accuracy of EPDs for traits already incorporated into genetic evaluation and to expand to other traits that currently can be measured only with the IGENITY profile.

“Relative to traits for which EPDs are already available, eventual incorporation of information from the IGENITY profile in genetic evaluation promises to increase the accuracy of prediction and reliability of selection,” Dr. Hyde says. “For traits not presently evaluated by EPDs, the information from the IGENITY profile empowers selection for additional economically relevant traits that are commonly expensive or difficult to measure.”

The comprehensive IGENITY profile includes multiple-marker analyses for:

Feed efficiency*



Quality grade

Yield grade

Hot carcass weight

Fat thickness

Ribeye area

Heifer pregnancy rate

Stayability (longevity)

Calving ease



Coat color

Breed-specific horned/polled

Multisire parentage

IGENITY also offers an optional diagnostic test for persistent infections (PI) of the bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) virus. In addition, producers can choose to use a combination radio frequency identification (RFID) tag and tissue collection device, making DNA collection and electronic identification possible in one simple step.

“The range of traits analyzed in the IGENITY profile, as well as the internal and external validation process for each analysis, is unparalleled by any other DNA provider in the beef industry,”1 says Dr. Jim Gibb, technical services director, IGENITY. “The IGENITY profile is the only DNA profile available with analyses for maternal and reproductive traits as well as carcass composition, tenderness and docility. In addition, the IGENITY profile includes the longest list of traits validated by the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC).”2

Dr. Gibb adds that IGENITY is committed to providing the most useful, thoroughly researched technology and the most innovative approach to its application in the beef industry. He adds that the approach IGENITY and NALF are taking to the development of marker-assisted EPDs is consistent with the recommendations made for the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) guidelines by the Commission on DNA Markers.3

“All beef producers can use the comprehensive IGENITY profile to help make more confident selection, management and marketing decisions,” Dr. Gibb says. “This agreement with NALF is a critical step in the development of marker-assisted EPDs, which takes the application of this technology to a new level of usefulness for beef producers.”

For more information, contact your IGENITY sales representative, call 1-877-IGENITY or visit

Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs more than 5,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2007 sales were nearly $2.5 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and sanofi-aventis. For more information, please see

Tools for Cattlemen at Noble Foundation

Want a one-stop shop for all your basic calculations to keep your cattle business thriving? The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation offers an entire list of tools for the busy cattle producer calculating feed rations, body condition scores, calving dates, drug withdrawal times and countless others. Simple and easy, these tools will assist you in your day-to-day equations. To view the list and utilize these calculation tools, see the Noble Foundation Agricultural Tools.

A Look at Meat Consumption

Here's how much meat the average American consumed, by type, in 2007:

  • Chicken: 84.9 pounds
  • Beef: 63.5 pounds
  • Pork: 48.2 pounds
  • Turkey: 17.5 pounds
  • Lamb and Mutton: 1 pound

No to U.S. Beef Changes in Taiwan

Despite meetings last week, the government of Taiwan has no plans to ease the restrictions on U.S. beef imports even though USDA presented a very strong case.

Taiwan’s Department of Health said on Friday that the existing restrictions will remain in place.

Minister of the Department of Health, Yeh Ching-chuan, said, “There are no plans to review the situation again, anytime soon in the near future."

The current restrictions allow only boneless beef, from cattle aged under 30 months, to be exported from the United States to Taiwan.

A Taste of Reality

My dad always teases me that I write about the beef business from my cozy desk at school, away from the realities of the farm. And, when I went home this weekend to work and celebrate my birthday with the family, I heard all about it.

“Mandy, you write with rose-colored glasses about agriculture,” said my dad, with a big grin. “Now’s the perfect time for a taste of reality. Let’s go do chores.”

It was a cold, rainy day in South Dakota, and I knew we had a lot of work to do. I put on coveralls, a stocking cap, knee-high boots and a pair of gloves, and I headed outside with my dad. I figured I would get some quality father-daughter time in: we would talk cattle, pick out the 2009 show calves and do a little work on the side. No big deal.

Well, I thought wrong. Going to class definitely doesn’t get me in working farm shape. I wasn’t working with those rose-colored glasses anymore. As I trudged through the muddy feed yard, backing up the grinder-mixer to unload it into the bin, I checked out the calves in the yard and the cowherd out grazing corn stalks.


I inherited my sense of worry from my dad, and I started thinking about all of the things that needed to get done. Soon winter would come, and snow would hit the ground. That means we would have to start feeding hay to the cows, instead of letting them run on those stalks. I wondered if we should weigh a few calves to see how they were gaining, and perhaps we should run through our list to make sure we are keeping the best replacement heifers. Plus, we still had to load up sale calves and sort off a steer to keep for my sisters to show. So much to do, and all I had was the weekend.

At the end of the day, I had a runny nose, a sore back and a list of things to do that I would never get done before the weekend was over. Over a cup of chili, I smiled and said to Dad, “Okay, I’ve got my dose of farm life now, I better head back to school to write about it.”

Ever the realist, he replied, “Oh, and Mandy? Don’t forget to write me a check for the feed bill before you head out.”

I love my Dad!

Dear Readers: Some of you may doubt what I write about on this blog. Some may wonder if I’m real, or if I have any advice to offer to you. The biggest challenge about a blog like this, is sharing your life, your thoughts and your opinions with so many readers. I want you all to know that your readership means a great deal to me, and your comments truly make my day. Please know that I everything I write, comes from the heart. Some days we might disagree on the big issues facing agriculture. Even if we don’t see things eye-to-eye, and even if you do things different on your ranch than I do on mine, our differences are what make this blog great. So let loose…share a little…stick your neck out like I do. Step into my reality. I’m always up for a discussion. And, Happy Monday!

JBS-Swift Cleans up in Kentucky

JBS-Swift has agreed to pay fines of $48,000 in relation to pollution at their plant in Butchers-town Kentucky.

The court documents showed that there were also complaints, in relation to smells emitting from the processing plant at an unacceptable level.

The company has to correct the situation, by improving the odor and working so that this will not happen again.

R-CALF Protest 'Unvoluntary' NAIS Memorandum

R-CALF has requested the immediate retraction of a recent memorandum on the grounds that the memo “constitutes an unlawful, final regulatory action initiated and implemented without public notice or opportunity for comment.

The letter was sent to the United States Department of Agriculture APHIS. Also receiving the formal letter were Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, as well as the ranking members of each committee. Additionally, animal health officials in each state received a copy of R-CALF USA’s correspondence.

“The effect of this memo is that premises registration under NAIS (National Animal Identification System) is now mandatory for producers engaged in interstate commerce and who participate in any one of the dozen or more regulated disease programs, despite APHIS’ express promise to the industry and to Congress that NAIS would remain a voluntary system,” said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee.

This memo declares that the Premises Identification Number (PIN) established under the agency’s NAIS “is to be the sole and standard location identifier for all VS program activities,” and that premises “will be registered in the NAIS.”

“This agency action by APHIS is unlawful,” Thornsberry emphasized. “We request immediate retraction of this memo, and we additionally request that APHIS be directed to immediately inform each state animal health official that the agency no longer is requiring the registration of premises as a condition of producer participation in regulated animal disease programs, or for any other purpose.”

TheCattleSite News Desk