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Speaking Up For Ag

From the nightly television news to video streams via the Internet, one needn't look far to find agriculture in the headlines. Unfortunately, the stories often show an unflattering and misinformed view of the industry.

But Troy and Stacy Hadrick, fifth-generation ranchers from Vale, SD, are speaking up to debunk those mistruths and teach others to do the same.

In 2006, the Hadricks formed Advocates for Agriculture (www.advocatesforag.com), and they've been making presentations to farm and ranch groups about the importance of telling agriculture's positive stories ever since.

“No one is going to tell our story for us. We [people in agriculture] need to do it ourselves,” Troy says.

A lesson learned

The realization came from their botched experience with the media.

After graduating from college in 1999, the couple returned to the family Angus ranch operated by Stacy's father and uncle — Ed and Rich Blair — in western South Dakota. Stacy began her career as an Extension educator, while Troy worked on the ranch.

In 2002, the Blair Ranch was featured as part of The New York Times “Power Steer” article authored by Michael Pollan. Pollan's premise was to purchase an Angus calf from the Blair Ranch and follow it through the production chain to a feedlot and packing plant. Troy was Pollan's primary source at the ranch.

Troy says he was excited about sharing the real story of raising cattle on a ranch through this nationally respected publication. But when the article was published, Pollan appeared to have his own agenda and depicted the cattle industry as abusive, inhumane and with no regard for the environment.

Troy says, “The most deflating thing was that we thought we had a great opportunity to tell positive things about the beef industry, and then it wasn't presented at all how we expected.”

As a result of the article, the Blair family — and the Hadricks — lost a lot of faith in the media and received many negative phone calls from animal-rights people.

“It took at least two years before it wasn't painful,” Troy says.

Stacy adds, “Wherever we'd go, the ‘Power Steer’ article seemed to come up.”

But also during that time, in the back of their minds, were thoughts on turning that negative media experience into a positive one.

A fellow industry advocate and speaker, Trent Loos, also encouraged them not to hide from the experience, but to share with others how important it is to get the true information about agriculture to the public.

And to convey the positive message of agriculture, Troy and Stacy realized that real producers are the ones who must deliver the story — not a biased New York Times reporter.

Becoming advocates

Thus, the Hadricks formed Advocates for Agriculture and adopted the mission of “promoting ag one story at a time.”

Through their presentations, they emphasize that one person can make a difference. Stacy says informing and educating consumers is as simple as “each of us talking to one person about our own story in agriculture.”

She adds, “Farmers and ranchers don't have to become professional speakers. You can talk about the ag industry and what you do at the grocery store, the post office and your local school, or sitting next to someone on an airplane. It's about making that connection with consumers — so they realize you raise the food they eat.”

Troy also emphasizes that real stories about agriculture are what matters. “We want people in ag to realize we all have a story worth telling. Other than our experience with The New York Times, what we do on our ranch isn't any different than other ranchers.” He says the important message to convey is how ranchers care for their livestock and land — and ultimately produce the safest food in the world.

“Our industry is never going to compete with the big budgets of groups like the Humane Society of the U.S. or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. But where agriculture can compete is in sharing real stories — that's where we will win the fight,” Troy says.

He continues, “It's easy for people to throw stones at agriculture, but when you are a real person with a real story, people can't argue with you about your story. We've learned you're not going to change the mind of someone who wants to argue, but if you can get people to start questioning some of the misinformation so they go looking for the right information — that can make a difference.”

Looking forward, Stacy says the agricultural community must also recognize that “we're all in this together,” and work together to support and promote ag. She points out that everything from fruits, vegetables, crawfish and vineyards is agriculture.

As well, she says many people with a connection to ag aren't working the land, but we all should accept the responsibility to speak up on behalf of the industry. “We need a unified voice in talking to legislators and consumers,” she says.

To assist in their mission of educating others about ag, the Hadricks developed a website and blog, which Troy updates almost daily. He calls out stories that feature misinformation about the industry or require more attention and advocacy by agriculturists, as well as spotlights positive stories occurring within ag.

In the future, Troy and Stacy hope to take their presentations about agriculture to more consumers and youth. They also have plans to utilize the Internet more through podcasts and possibly a “Year In The Life On The Ranch” feature on YouTube.

When asked what they hope to have accomplished five years from now, Troy says, “Ideally, we'd be out of a speaking job, because everyone is out there telling ag's story.”

Kindra Gordon is a freelance writer based in Whitewood, SD.

The courage to speak

Both Troy and Stacy Hadrick were blessed with the gift of gab, but they credit much of their speaking ability to past experiences and leadership training through the Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers program.

In 2004, they were honored with the National Excellence in Agriculture Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The couple delivered their first presentation, “The Real Enemy of Agriculture,” in 2006 at the South Dakota Women in Ag Conference. Their speaking engagements have grown primarily by word of mouth and have taken them to almost 10 states since then.

Stacy says, “We have fun when we're speaking. We have different strengths, and we work well together.”

The duo says the positive feedback and that feeling of making a difference fuel them to continue speaking. Troy says, “We hope we are making our industry better.”

This year, Troy stepped back from his daily involvement with the ranch to pursue developing Advocates for Ag. It was a difficult decision, but the couple says they realized how important telling ag's story was. “Sometimes the things you do off the ranch are just as important,” Troy says.

They still live on the family operation with their three children: Teigen, 5; Olivia, 3; and Reese, 1. When not on the computer, Troy might be found ultrasounding cattle or helping out where needed on the ranch.

Troy concludes, “At the end of the day, we're just people in ag.”

Squeeze Play

It's not like beef is a non-renewable natural resource, but global demand running ahead of stable to declining supply promises to drive prices higher.

“Consumers on this planet haven't consumed less meat year-to-year since data has been kept,” says Brett Stuart, a Cattle-Fax market analyst. That's total meat supply. Though global beef consumption faltered for a couple of years during that stretch, Stuart explains that average per-capita beef consumption has increased 2%/year on average for the better part of five decades. Come sun, rain or financial storm.

For anyone fretting over the potential impact the current financial crisis might have on beef demand, Stuart harkens back to the Asian financial crisis of 1997-99, the most previous world-jarring financial event. Looking at beef demand data, he says you can't tell when the financial upheaval began or ended. Especially in light of the dollar's weakness today, Stuart says U.S. beef remains an extraordinary bargain around the world.

Even here in the U.S., wholesale beef prices have remained amazingly strong through the economic and commodity shocks of the previous 18 months. Rather than substitute other sources of meat protein for beef, for the most part, consumers have simply opted for lower value beef cuts. Robust chuck and round demand, as well as historically high hide and offal values, have underpinned the market.

“Population and per-capita income drive beef demand,” Stuart says. By those measures, global beef demand stands at the threshold of blooming growth, notwithstanding the current financial conundrum.

For one thing, world-wide population is growing annually by 78 million people. Perhaps more significant, Stuart points out per-capita economic growth means sizeable chunks of the population are only now in a position to afford meat as a diet staple. For example, he points to Latin America and Southern Asia, where population and per-capita income are growing rapidly. Consumers there are transitioning from starch-based diets heavy in rice and beans to protein-based diets built around meat.

Even in economically developed countries, more consumers are choosing meat, in general; and beef, specifically. In Japan, for instance, where 72% of consumer diets consist of seafood, Stuart says younger consumers are Westernizing their diets, choosing more meat.

Static to dwindling supplies

On the other side of the equation, beef production is lagging behind.

Consider the four leading countries for beef production in terms of tonnage — U.S., Brazil, the European Union (EU) and China, in that order. Stuart says they account for 69% of global beef production.

You know what's happening here. U.S. beef production will be near-record this year, thanks to continued herd liquidation and increased carcass weights. Beef cow numbers are 1% below a year ago. Folks like Stuart expect no expansion in beef cow numbers for at least the next 2-3 years, possibly longer. According to Jim Robb, director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC), per-capita beef supplies in the U.S. for 2010 are expected to be the lowest since 1959.

It's no different with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico. According to Erica Rosa, LMIC agricultural economist, the beef cowherd there has shrunk more during the year than was anticipated at the outset. Imports of Mexican feeder cattle to the U.S. were 80% fewer this September than last, as more cattle remain in-country, responding to that country's shrinking cowherd, relative to demand.

Back to the other key producers, Stuart says cattle slaughter in Brazil — the world's largest beef exporter — is 7% less than last year, and more of that country's production is remaining home to supply domestic demand. According to USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, Brazilian beef exports will be down about 17% this year, due in large part to restrictions imposed by the EU.

Likewise, though China's cattle numbers are expected to increase another 2-3% next year, Stuart explains expansion there has cooled from its heady pace of the past several years. By and large, China's production goes toward its own consumers.

As for the EU, both Rosa and Stuart point out beef cattle production there is in the midst of sustained reduction that has been ongoing for more than a decade.

Then there are other key players on both sides of the international import/export equation. Australia, the globe's largest beef exporter behind Brazil, continues to be immersed in persistent drought that continues to cut its numbers.

On the other hand, the Russian Federation — the world's largest meat importer — has shrunk its domestic cowherd by two-thirds since 1990 — going from 40 million head to 16-18 million head today. Apparently, even cattle producers in a communist-based system understand when to take the money and run.

All told, the anemic value of the U.S. dollar is a factor in reduced U.S. beef imports this year, but Rosa points out it's also because there is less supply world-wide than there has been.

Incentive runs behind cost

None of this is to suggest looming beef shortages or supply disruptions will affect consumers. However, current supply and demand reality sets the stage for what expansion demands.

“Globally, demand is outpacing supplies, which tells me global beef prices will go higher,” Stuart says.

To this point, though, input costs continue to run ahead of the incentive to expand. When prices catch up, though, the U.S. is positively positioned to exploit the supply imbalance. At that time, supplies will grow even tighter as more heifers are retained for the expansion.

Along with quality and a stable infrastructure, Stuart emphasizes, “U.S. beef is very competitively priced around the world.” Even with the current financial doldrums, Stuart points out that in countries like Japan, lower priced U.S. beef is what cash-strapped consumers trade down to. He adds, “We may have more potential in Japan (U.S. beef exports) than in any other country during the next 10 years.”

Perhaps Robb summed the potential most aptly during this fall's Wheatland Stocker Conference: “The EU is considering U.S. beef for the first time in 25 years because of supply.”

Largest Beef Importers

  1. United States
  2. Japan
  3. Italy
  4. France
  5. Russia
  6. Netherlands
  7. Germany
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Mexico
  10. South Korea
  11. Canada
  12. Hong Kong

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation

Associated Figure

Yield grade requires modification

The USDA Yield Grade equation is skewed, West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) researchers conclude.

With the adoption of visual instrument grading, calculated yield grade can be used for payment to cattle producers selling on the grid pricing system. USDA beef carcass grading standards include a relationship between longissimus muscle area (LMA) and hot carcass weight (HCW), which is an important component of final yield grade.

As noted on a USDA Yield Grade LMA grid, a 600-lb. carcass requires an 11-sq.-in. LMA and a 1,000-lb. carcass requires a 15.8-sq.-in. LMA. This is a linear relationship, where required LMA= 0.171(HCW) + 24.526.

If a beef carcass has a larger LMA than required, the calculated yield grade is lowered, whereas a smaller LMA than required increases the calculated yield grade.

Researchers sought to evaluate the LMA-to-HCW relationship against data on 434,381 beef carcasses in the WTAMU Beef Carcass Research Center database. In contrast to the USDA relationship, WTAMU's data indicate a quadratic relationship between LMA and HCW: on average, a 600-lb. carcass has a 11.6-sq.-in. LMA and a 1,000-lb. carcass has a 14.9-sq.-in. LMA, indicating a different slope and different intercept than those in the USDA grading standards.

On the basis of these findings, carcasses weighing 417 lbs. to 741 lbs. have calculated yield grades that are 0.1 to 0.2 units lower than expected, whereas carcasses that weigh 833 lbs. to 1,100 lbs. have calculated yield grades that are 0.1 to 0.5 units greater than expected. Therefore, heavier carcasses are more likely to result in yield grades of 4 and 5 because their LMA per HCW ratio requirement is overestimated.

These data indicate that the USDA calculated yield grade equation favors carcasses lighter than 800 lbs. for having above-average muscling, and penalizes carcasses heavier than 800 lbs. for having below-average muscling.

Researchers conclude that if carcass weights continue to increase, there will be more instances of Yield Grade 4 and 5 carcasses because of the measurement bias that currently exists in the USDA Yield Grade equations. Correcting the LMA per HCW relationship should help recognize the actual value of carcasses.
Lawrence et al, 2008, Journal of Animal Science, 86:1434

Exposing freshly weaned, transport-stressed calves to a persistently infected bovine viral diarrhea (PI-BVD)-identified calf had little effect on feedlot performance, New Mexico State University researchers found.

A single experiment of completely randomized design was conducted to evaluate the effects of long- or short-term exposure to a calf identified as PI-BVD on feedlot performance and carcass characteristics of freshly weaned, transport-stressed beef heifers.

Two hundred eighty-eight heifers vaccinated for BVD before weaning and transport were processed and given a metaphylactic antibiotic treatment at arrival, and were fed common receiving, growing and finishing diets for a 215-day period. Treatments were designed to directly or adjacently expose the cattle to a PI-BVD heifer. Directly exposed treatments were:

  1. negative control with no PI-BVD calf exposure (control);

  2. PI-BVD calf commingled in the pen for 60 hours and then removed (short-term exposure); and

  3. PI-BVD calf commingled in the pen for the duration of the study (long-term exposure).

Spatially exposed treatments were:

  1. negative control with no PI-BVD calf exposure (adjacent pen control);

  2. PI-BVD calf commingled in the adjacent pen for 60 hours and then removed (adjacent pen short-term exposure); and

  3. PI-BVD calf commingled in the adjacent pen for the duration of the study (adjacent pen long-term exposure).

Exposure to a PI calf transiently (60 hours) or for the duration of the feeding period (215 days) did not affect final bodyweight compared with unexposed heifers. Neither period nor overall dry matter intake was affected by PI-BVD calf exposure, and no differences were observed between short- and long-term exposed heifers in the direct or spatially exposed groups. Likewise, total trial average daily gain was not affected, and overall efficiency of gain was unaffected by PI-BVD calf exposure in direct or spatially exposed groups.

The study's results suggest that exposing previously vaccinated, freshly weaned, transport-stressed beef calves to a PI-BVD calf has little, if any, marked effects on health, performance or carcass characteristics.
Elam, et al, 2008, Journal of Animal
Science, 86:1917

Don't Fire The Vet

Feedyard managers and stocker guys might call it a bad luck/good luck story. Dan Thomson calls it riding the epidemiological curve to glory.

It happens like this, says Thomson, a former feedyard veterinarian and the Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. “The thing that dictates when we buy calves is the market. And we can draw up the perfect plan and say we're not going to have more than this many high-risk calves at a time, but we still have to make a living.”

So, when the market dictates, feedyards and stocker operators tend to buy those “cheap” calves. A lot. “And we overload the system with too many high-risk calves.”

High-risk calves — lightweight, from multiple sale barns and commingled, non-vaccinated and probably weaned in the trailer — will start showing clinical signs within two weeks after arrival if they break with respiratory disease. Ranch-fresh calves break about 30 days after getting off the truck. “So somewhere between 14 and 30 days on feed is when we see our peaks in morbidity,” he says. If a calf succumbs to bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and dies, you'll treat it for about 30 days before doing the post.

“If we start buying calves on Labor Day, it's going to take 14 to 30 days before we start seeing the increase in pull rates. From that point, it's going to take another 30 days before we see a peak in death loss.”

But if you kept buying those “cheap” calves, you got the big scare and hollered “calf rope” about the time Halloween rolled around, Thomson says. “It's about that time that you quit buying those calves, said the drug quit working and decided to change vets because something has gone wrong.”

So you change brands on the bottle and hire a new consultant. “We quit buying calves at Halloween because we've overrun the system and we're tired of feeding these high-risk calves. But we're still going to have high mortality rates for 60 more days because we continued buying them from Labor Day through Halloween.”

By Christmas, the wreck is over. So everyone gets a nice Christmas present, and the new vet and the new drug get the credit for the turnaround. “And it's not that the drugs quit working or that the bug changed, it's just the normal progression of BRD,” he says.

Buying 'em right

Thomson says dealing with BRD in cattle boils down to three things — the weather, the people and the cattle. “Ninety percent of death loss with respiratory disease in feeder cattle is associated with those three things.”

The weather, of course, you can't do anything about. You can, however, take some steps to counter it. “When we have bad weather, general animal husbandry — nutrition, water, shelter, supplying cattle comfort and getting them a place to lie down out of the mud — is important,” he says.

Then there are the people. “We have a shortage of people in general. We have fewer people lining up to work in our operations. Also, we have fewer people with a background in cattle handling or in cattle disease identification. Based on this, it is sometimes easier to see if we can get by with one less person. So we're trying to get by with fewer people than it takes to do the job adequately.”

And then there are the cattle. And that's where, through their buying practices, feedyards and stocker operators can have the most impact. “When we don't prepare them — don't castrate them before they're three months old, don't select animals without horns, don't vaccinate them and don't teach them what a feed bunk or water tank is — there's nothing in a bottle that's going to fix that problem.”

Thomson says as feed costs continue to hover in the nosebleed section along with fuel and other inputs, it's imperative that cattlemen buy more predictable calves. “I used to think that the term high-risk calves was only used to describe the health status or predicted morbidity of the cattle,” he says. “But the more I'm around this deal, high risk is also tied to economic risk, because those cattle are not as predictable and can cause an economic wreck.”

Not all high-risk calves will present a health challenge. And while some operations may handle enough cattle that they can play the odds and weather a BRD wreck, many producers can't. “If you buy 100 head and have a wreck, you're done. High-risk calves are really an economic risk as well as a health risk.”

Thomson, who is a big proponent of preconditioning, thinks more people are better preparing their calves for life after the ranch gate. And more feedyards and stocker operators are buying preconditioned cattle, thus putting extra dollars in ranchers' pockets, because they realize it's cheaper to not buy a problem in the first place than buy “cheap” high-risk calves and tally your losses when the wreck is over.

But he says if it was just about dollars and cents, we wouldn't be working with animals. “Our obligation to the calves we raise doesn't end when we stick them in that sale barn. What we owe that calf is a chance to go on and produce.”

Thomson says cattlemen have the best tools ever available to them. “The drugs we have are awesome. The vaccines we have are awesome. But we've never changed how we market cattle. There comes a point in time where we have to realize, as an industry, that we have to prepare our animals to make the transition through the marketing channels, because there's nothing in a bottle that's going to make up for animals not being prepared,” he says.

Beef

NEW HOLLAND CELEBRATES 700,000TH SQUARE BALER MILESTONE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTINUING SUCCESS OF HAY EQUIPMENT SALES LEADS TO $34 MILLION PLANT EXPANSION

NEW HOLLAND, PA (October 30, 2008) – The unveiling today of the 700,000th square baler made at New Holland, Pa. was accompanied by a celebration to commemorate the continuing success of one of the most significant labor-saving inventions in the mechanization of agriculture. Also recognized and celebrated during the event were recent upgrades made at the facility to strengthen its worldwide standing as the center of hay tools excellence.

The first successful automatic self-tie square baler, the machine that revolutionized haymaking, was invented by Ed Nolt, a farmer from New Holland, Pa. more than 70 years ago. It soon brought worldwide attention to New Holland as the premiere manufacturer of haying equipment. Today, the New Holland, Pa., facility is the largest of its kind in the world, with balers and other hay tool equipment shipped from New Holland to countries around the world. The most recent facility enhancements came in the form of a $34 million upgrade project including a plant expansion and renovation with two new, state-of-the-art paint systems. Earlier this year, production of five new product lines was transferred to the New Holland manufacturing facility, resulting in the addition of 110 new jobs. In addition to square balers, the New Holland manufacturing facility also produces round balers, pull-type forage harvesters and other haying equipment.

The 700,000th square baler made at New Holland was unveiled and presented to farmer Ken Myer of Elizabethtown, located in the heart of Lancaster County, Pa. Myer was the guest of honor at the special event and accepted the baler from his local New Holland dealer, Bob Messick, owner of Messick Farm Equipment in Elizabethtown and Messick Equipment in Abbottstown, Pa. Myer has purchased over 20 New Holland square balers in the past two decades, upgrading his baler for a new model every year.

Members of the Ed Nolt family also joined in the celebration along with New Holland employees and a number of top New Holland dealers from throughout the United States.

The 700,000th New Holland square baler, a Model BC5070, is one of the new generation square balers New Holland has introduced this year. The commemorative unit features unique decaling designed to represent the era when New Holland introduced the first automatic self-tie baler, launching its reputation as an innovator and leader in hay harvesting technology. A limited number of the specially decaled balers will be available as part of a celebration marking the 700,000th square baler.

New Holland is a world leader in agricultural, utility and construction equipment. New Holland Agriculture sells and services an innovative and diverse line of agricultural and utility equipment, including a full line of tractors as well as hay and forage equipment, harvesting, crop production and material handling equipment.

Sales, parts and service are provided to customers by New Holland dealers throughout the United States and Canada. There are more than 1,100 New Holland dealerships located throughout North America.

###

For more information, contact:

Gene H. Hemphill, Industry Affairs Manager

Phone: (717) 475-2152

[email protected]

www.newholland.com/na

For press release information and more photos of the celebration, visit www.newhollandmediakit.com

Beef

AngusSource Celebrates Three Years of Success

Strong demand for Angus genetics and a continuing market for verified cattle led to a 24.8% increase in the number of cattle enrolled in AngusSource® during fiscal year 2008, which ended Sept. 30.

Data collected from Superior Livestock June-September 2008 indicates that cattle enrolled in age- and source-verified programs received $2.08 per hundredweight (cwt.) more than calves that were not source and age-verified. The data also suggested that calves enrolled in AngusSource had a $1.29-per-cwt. advantage over other source- and age-verified programs, bringing the total value of AngusSource enrollment to $3.37 per cwt.

AngusSource, which recently celebrated its third anniversary, is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) process-verified program (PVP) for Angus-sired cattle. Operated by the American Angus Association®, the program began in October 2005 and documents source, age and a minimum of 50% Angus genetics.

“Every facet of the program grew during fiscal year 2008,” says Sara Snider, director of AngusSource. “The average size of each enrollment increased to 146 head, pushing the enrollment numbers this year to more than 113,000 head.”

“A 31% increase in the number of cattle promoted through the program’s online listing site shows that more producers are utilizing all of the marketing support available through AngusSource,” Snider says. “AngusSource goes beyond verification of source, age and genetics. Once cattle are enrolled, producers are able to document additional health and management information prior to marketing. We then add these cattle to an online listing and e-mail the information out to more than 600 potential buyers.”

Enrollments in the AngusSource feedyard umbrella have also grown since being introduced in 2007. Participation allows farmer-feeders and commercial feedyards to market AngusSource cattle directly to packers, qualifying cattle for export to Japan and for age-verified premiums. In fiscal year 2008, 17 feeders marketed nearly 5,000 head through the program giving them access to age-verified premiums of up to $35 per head.

AngusSource is just one of the programs of the American Angus Association designed to help commercial producers market their Angus-sired calves. The Association, with headquarters in Saint Joseph, Mo., provides programs and services to its more than 36,000 members and thousands of commercial cattle producers nationwide. For more information go to www.angus.org.

For More Information Contact:

Sara Snider at 816-383-5151 or [email protected]

Beef

PENTON’S BEEF MAGAZINE COMPLETES NATIONAL STOCKER SURVEY

MINNEAPOLIS (October 29, 2008) – Contrary to popular dogma, the nation’s stocker producers buy lots more calves at and beyond average market prices than they do procuring bargains to sort up and grade up.

That’s one of the findings served up by the landmark National Stocker Survey (NSS) recently completed by BEEF Magazine. It’s the first time that the demographics, management practices and needs of the nation’s beef stocker and backgrounding industry has been assessed so broadly and deeply.

The year-long effort included stocker specialists from 11 Land Grant Universities and was sponsored by Elanco Animal Health. The sampling was designed to reflect the thoughts of stocker operators who represent approximately 70% of the nation’s stocker cattle.

“There’s a treasure trove of information here, some of it benchmarking what we’ve long believed about the stocker industry, and other data offering new perspectives,” says Dale Balsi, extension beef stocker specialist at Kansas Sate University (KSU). He coordinated the involvement of the Land Grant Universities in preparing and analyzing the study results.

In addition to identifying characteristics of producers exclusively involved in the stocker segment, the NSS also characterizes those who are also cow-calf producers, operate feedlots or do it all from cow-calf through the feedlot.

“That was also one of the surprises,” says Blasi. “We’ve always known that a number of cow-calf producers retain their calves to grow to heavier weights. The NSS data underscores the fact that a sizeable portion of cow-calf producers involved in the stocker business also buy a significant number of calves to stocker and background in addition to those from their own herds.”

In fact, the NSS data indicates cow-calf producers comprise the largest segment of stocker producers (64.6%), compared to 17.2% of stocker producers involved solely in that segment of the industry.

“The insight offered by this effort will help those in the industry identify opportunities. For those of us serving that industry, this information will help us utilize our resources most effectively in serving the industry,” Blasi emphasizes. “The stocker industry has always been a vital part of the U.S. beef industry that allows us to remain more competitive with other consumer protein sources than we otherwise could. As feed costs and cost of gain increases it becomes even more essential that we understand and serve that segment of the industry.”

Land Grant Universities participating in the NSS include: Auburn University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, University of Florida, University of Missouri, University of Nevada, and Western Kentucky University.

For more data and details, go to www.BEEFmagazine.com and click on the 2007 National Stocker Survey button under the resources section (lower right corner).

BEEF, America's leading cattle publication, publishes 13 issues annually for cow-calf operators, stocker-growers, cattle feeders, veterinarians, nutritionists and allied industries, and provides a wide variety of industry news and information online at www.beefmagazine.com . BEEF is part of Penton Media’s extensive family of print and online agricultural brands, including National Hog Farmer®,, Hay & Forage Grower®, The Corn and Soybean Digest™, Farm Industry News®, and Farm Press® publications.

Penton Media, Inc. is the largest independent business-to-business media company in the U.S., serving more than six million business professionals every month. The company's market-leading brands are focused on 30 industries and include 113 trade magazines, 145 Web sites, 150 industry trade shows and conferences, and more than 500 information data products. Headquartered in New York City, the privately held company is owned by MidOcean Partners and U.S. Equity Partners II, an investment fund sponsored by Wasserstein & Co., LP, and its co-investors. For additional information on the company and its businesses, visit www.penton.com .

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Beef

Novartis AABP activities result in donations to support veterinary students

Greensboro, NC (Oct. 16, 2008) – Novartis Animal Health US, Inc. sponsored an interactive quiz at the recent 2008 American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) Annual Convention. This activity resulted in donations of $2,470 to the AABP Amstutz Scholarship Fund and $500 to the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s student AABP Chapter.

The quiz was designed to allow veterinarians and veterinary students to test their knowledge about bovine viral diarrhea, L. hardjo-bovis, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and scours prevention. It included questions about Novartis products Vira Shield® 6+VL5HB and Scour Bos® 9.

For each person completing the quiz, Novartis donated $10 to the AABP Amstutz Scholarship Fund, which is designed to attract well-trained veterinarians to enter food animal practice. A total of $2,470 was raised.

In addition, Novartis offered the veterinary college with the most students participating in the quiz the chance to win a $500 donation to their student AABP chapter. Nearly 20 colleges participated. Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine took top honors.

About Novartis Animal Health

Novartis Animal Health researches, develops and commercializes leading animal treatments that meet the needs of pet owners, farmers and veterinarians. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Animal Health conducts business in 40 countries and employs about 2,700 people worldwide. For more information, please consult www.ah.novartis.us.

About Novartis

Novartis AG provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2007, the Group’s continuing operations (excluding divestments in 2007) achieved net sales of USD 38.1 billion and net income of USD 6.5 billion. Approximately USD 6.4 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 98,000 full-time associates and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.