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Watch cows graze weeds on YouTube

Livestock consultant Kathy Voth has earned attention for several years for her research on teaching cows to eat weeds. Now, the innovative range consultant is spreading her message through YouTube.

Voth has posted several videos on the YouTube site so others can watch and learn how to train their cows to eat weeds. Voth says there’s even a “music” video showing work she did this summer in Montana teaching cows to eat Canada thistle.

She also includes a review of all the weeds she has trained cows to eat since developing the process in 2004. There are also three interview videos with producers describing how the training process worked for them.

View the videos at Voth’s YouTube channel. For more about Voth’s work visit her website.

Food Insight: Keeping pace with what consumers want

Step into your local grocery store and you may start seeing the signs that a new era in retail food marketing is taking hold. The changes are being driven by consumer demand, and it will continue to be key for industries like the beef sector to pay attention, recognize opportunities and adapt to survive.

One example of today’s changes: in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, grocery chain Piggly Wiggly has designed a store to fit the way people instinctually shop. For example, when shopping for cereal, a customer will intuitively search for milk. In most grocery stores, milk and cereal products are located in different sections. In the new Piggy Wiggly store, however, milk and cereal are positioned side by side. Beverages, like coffee, wine and beer, are featured together.

This is possible through new technology that makes it efficient energy-wise to place refrigeration cases throughout the store. Fifty years ago, on the other hand, stores were only designed with refrigeration around the store perimeters. These new developments in modern technology have enabled Piggly Wiggly to position things like different forms of fruits and vegetables together. Now, fresh, canned and frozen corn can all be found in the same aisle – a real time-saver for customers.

In addition, the new store features four one-stop stations where consumers can find all the ingredients they’ll need to prepare a full meal, complete with recipes and instructions. An on-site “Dream Dinners” franchise allows shoppers to prepare a week’s worth of meals for the entire family in just a few simple steps. Shoppers on the go can call ahead and order a chef prepared meal for dinner. They’ll even bring it to your car.

For the beef industry, these changes might mean opportunity – so long as the industry is prepared to adapt to this new concept and is able to deliver the convenient, tasty products consumers seek.

Brand Connections
The trend in branded products also continues to be big. While branded beef has been part of the industry for nearly two decades, consumers are now looking for more information about the producers behind the brand.

Colorado State University meat scientist Gary Smith, PhD, speaking at the 2008 Beef Improvement Federation’s Annual Research Symposium in Calgary, Alberta, this summer outlined some of the latest trends in value-added and branded beef production. Smith believes consumers increasingly want a closer connection to their food and its production.

He notes that Safeway, Kroger and Super-Value have developed their own brands of “natural” or “organic” beef, but their sales of such products have been disappointing. Smith believes it is because consumers who purchase and eat natural, organic or grass-fed beef want to feel connected to the source of that beef – like the rancher who personally raised that animal.

To that end, Smith says the idea of “story beef” includes new elements, with consumers asking whether the people who grew the cattle live nearby, properly care for the animals, treat farm and ranch workers fairly, practice environmental stewardship, operate sustainably and receive a fair price.

Smith also notes that while demand for natural and organic beef has grown substantially in recent years, the current downturn in the economy is slowing the market for these high-end products. Retailers, he says, are asking some branded companies to back off on some “never-ever” requirements to keep production costs — and retail prices — in line.

Socially Conscious
A final trend shaping food for the future, is the focus on health, social responsibility and the environment. As one example, in late July Los Angeles city officials voted unanimously to place a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in an impoverished area of the city. The yearlong moratorium aimed at South Los Angeles is intended to give the city time to attract restaurants that serve healthier food. The action, which the mayor must still sign into law, is believed to be the first of its kind by a major city to protect public health. Research suggests 30% of adults in the South Los Angeles area are obese, compared to 19% for the metropolitan area. A report by the Community Health Councils found 73% of South Los Angeles restaurants were fast food, compared to 42% in West Los Angeles.

On the environmental front, in Seattle, the mayor has proposed implementing a 20-cent “green fee” on disposable shopping bags at Seattle grocery and convenience stores. He also wants to ban foam containers from the local food service industry. Environmental groups have applauded the initiative, which could take effect January 1, 2009.

According to Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), roughly 360 million paper and plastic shopping bags are used in Seattle each year. That’s the equivalent of about 8,500 tons of greenhouse gases. SPU would collect roughly $10 million annually from the fee and about $2 million would help Seattleites make the transition to reusable bags. The rest would be used to promote waste prevention and environmental education in the city.

It is a brand new world out there. Take a look around your grocery store and see which trends stand out.

EPA Wants to Charge for Livestock Emissions

The American Farm Bureau is strenuously opposing a U.S. EPA greenhouse gas proposal that would tax livestock producers for their animals’ emissions. AFB says it doesn’t even pass the smell test, let alone the straight face test. But EPA is considering steep fees based on animal emissions that Farm Bureau says would force many livestock producers out of business. American Farm Bureau lobbyist Rick Krause says it’s no laughing matter.

“We’ve already heard from one of President-elect Obama’s senior environmental advisers that they intend to take up this regulation early next year, when they come in, Krause said. “The only saving grace that I think that we might have, in stalling this, is the state of the economy.”

Krause says the clean air act covers any emitters of 100-tons or more of carbon-equivalent a year, forcing more than 90-percent of the U.S. dairy, beef and pork industry to get permits at an estimated cost of $175 a dairy cow, $87.50 for each head of beef cattle, and twenty dollars for each hog.

Krause told Hoosier Ag Today, “The permit doesn’t give you anything, other than the right to continue operating the way you have. It doesn’t give you anything new, in terms of any new privileges or any new rights to expand, or anything like that.”

Krause says EPA’s consideration of a greenhouse gas rule to cover emitters of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides, stems from a Supreme Court case decided in favor of environmentalists last year. It parallels another case involving whether California should be able to regulate auto emissions for greenhouse gases.

Krause says if a livestock producer was making a profit or breaking even, that will change if the new regulation takes effect.

Instructional cattle fitting and showing DVD available

The American Angus Association has produced a new educational DVD that outlines the basics of fitting and showing an animal. "Fitting and Showing for Success" is a 22-minute video that shows the entire fitting process, from washing and rinsing to clipping and show-day preparation. The video also highlights showmanship techniques.

The DVD can be purchased for just $15 from the Association’s communications department. Place orders by calling 816-383-5100.

Also available from the American Angus Association, is “You Be The Judge.” This 60-minute instructional piece is available on DVD or VHS and covers the basics of Angus cattle judging. Scott Schaake, Kansas State University judging team coach provides the on-camera instruction. He discusses what to look for when evaluating cattle, tips for note taking and oral reasons. Two collegiate judges give sample oral reasons on the tape, and viewers can practice what they've learned on two practice classes, one Angus heifer class and one market steer class. Official placings and reasons are also included. The cost is $15.

Both tapes or DVDs may be purchased by both members and non-members. For more information contact the Angus Association at 816-383-5100.

Book highlights harmful plants for horses

A new book provides research-based information about 18 plants or groups of plants that may be poisonous to horses. Written by University of Minnesota experts, the 44-page book, Plants Poisonous or Harmful to Horses in the North Central United States, includes almost 70 color photos. Information is included on the plants' life cycles, identification, distribution and control. The book can be viewed as a PDF file. Order it online from the University of Minnesota Extension Service for $10

JBS-Swift's Call to Cattlemen

Wesley Bastia, president and CEO of JBS-Swift, believes that China and Russia are the emerging markets of the future.

Speaking at a meeting in the United States, at the Texas Cattle Feeders Association Meeting, Bastia asked for farmers cooperation in keeping imported cattle separate when farmers delivered their livestock to the beef plants.

This would enable the beef packers to keep the costs down, in operating the new COOL regulations, he says.

“All of us in this industry need to work to expand demand both here in the United States, and outside the United States. This is the key for us. If we expand demand, we have a better business for all of us," says Bastia.

JBS-Swift is the second largest beef processors in the United Sates, after the giant Tyson Foods Inc.


Strategic alliance with Albion Animal Nutrition

Knapp, Wis., November 21, 2008- BOMAC Vets Plus, Inc. would like to take this opportunity to announce that we have entered into a strategic alliance with Albion Animal Nutrition to manufacture and support their Replamin® gel and Pull Thru® branded products.

BOMAC Vets Plus, Inc., a prominent animal nutritional supplement manufacturer, will be producing the Albion line with the quality and integrity that is known in the industry. BOMAC Vets Plus, Inc. will be handling the sales and marketing components for these brands as well and would like to extend a welcome to the current Albion customers. Albion will continue to provide technical support of the product lines and be a resource of information on trace mineral importance. This arrangement compliments a full line of animal health and nutrition products currently offered by BOMAC Vets Plus, Inc. by the addition of a superior trace mineral based supportive therapy product line.

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A leading manufacturer and distributor of animal health and nutrition products, BOMAC Vets Plus, Inc, is located in Knapp, Wis.


Managing intake — when less equals more

Rumensin is a proven management tool that protects your investment by increasing the selling weight of your stockers while preventing and controlling coccidiosis.

GREENFIELD, Ind.: Nov. 21, 2008 — As you know, with record high input costs, now is the time to maximize management techniques to increase gain in cattle. Producers who want additional gain per acre of pasture need to constantly evaluate their supplementation programs. Proper management and choosing the right supplement is the key. Now more than ever is the time to make supplementing your cattle a priority.

Why use supplements?

Rate of gain plays an important role in the profitability of a stocker or backgrounder program.1 When producers increase stocking rates, gain is reduced due to lack of forage available per head; therefore, feeding a supplement allows producers to stabilize stocker performance and customize their operation each season.2

Rumensin®: eat less & gain more

Rumensin’s mode of action increases the production of propionic acid by rumen microbes,3 which results in increased animal performance. Supplementing your cattle with Rumensin delivers 20 pounds or more per head of additional selling weight during a 100-day grazing period.4 Therefore, supplementing with Rumensin helps stockers gain more on less mineral.

“For generations, producers have been trained to target 4 oz/hd/d of mineral consumption as a rule-of-thumb. And they worry when consumption falls below that,” says Dr. Doug Hufstedler, Elanco technical consultant. “However, there are exceptions — cattle consuming mineral with Rumensin routinely eat less than 4 oz/hd/d, yet gain more than contemporaries supplemented with a non-medicated mineral. In the end, it’s a win-win situation for producers — reducing mineral consumption while increasing gain/acre.”

Oklahoma State University research shows that stocker cattle receiving a mineral supplement containing Rumensin consumed less mineral, thus reducing supplementation costs without negatively impacting performance. In fact, the cattle supplemented with a Rumensin mineral outperformed all other groups, delivering improved average daily gain and increased profitability.5

Mineral consumption

Proper management of mineral consumption is essential to optimize animal performance and economics. Keep the following tips in mind:

Place mineral feeders in loafing and watering areas

Increase the number of available mineral feeders

Protect mineral feeders from adverse weather

Rumensin is available for stocker cattle in complete feeds, supplements, blocks or free-choice mineral. Ask your Elanco representative, animal health distributors, nutritional supplier or veterinarian to help you maximize your profitability with Rumensin. For more information, visit

Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Company, is based in Greenfield, Ind., U.S.A., and is one of the world’s leading animal-health companies. Elanco develops and markets innovative technologies for use in animal production and care, and disease prevention and treatment. Elanco is a global animal-health company with facilities located worldwide to serve the global marketplace.

Dosage/use levels

For increased rate of weight gain: Feed 50-200 mg/hd/day of Rumensin in at least 1 lb of Type C Medicated Feed. Or, after the 5th day, feed 400 mg/hd/day every other day in at least 2 lbs of Type C Medicated Feed. The Type C Medicated Feed must contain 25-400 g/ton of Rumensin.

For the prevention and control of coccidiosis: Feed Rumensin at a rate to provide 0.14-0.42 mg/lb of body weight per day up to 200 mg/hd/day. The Type C Medicated Feed must contain 25-400 g/ton of Rumensin.

Free-choice supplements: 50-200 mg/hd/day of Rumensin.

The label contains complete use information, including cautions and warnings.

Always read, understand and follow the label and use directions.

1Horn, GW, PA Beck, JG Andrae & SI Paisley. 2005. Designing supplements for stocker cattle grazing wheat pasture. J. Anim. Sci. 83:E69-E78.

2Highfill, G. 1999. Wheat Pasture Management. Wheat Stocker Conference, Enid OK, 6, August.

3Nagaraja, TG, CJ Newbold, CJ Van Nevel & DI Meyer. 1997. Manipulation of Rumen Fermentation. The Rumen Microbial Ecosytem, 2nd edition. Ed: Hobson & Stewart. p. 539.

4Rathmacher, RP. 1977. 24 trials. Elanco Animal Health. Data on file.

5Horn, G, C Gibson, J Kountz & C Lundsford. 2001. Two-Year Summary: Effect of Mineral Supplementation With or Without Ionophores on Growth Performance of Wheat Pasture Stocker Cattle. Proceedings from the Wheatland Stocker Conference. p. A1-A19. (The economic analysis was conducted only in year two of the trial.)

Bovatec® is a registered trademark of Alpharma Inc.

Rumensin® is a trademark for Elanco’s brand of monensin sodium.

© 2008 Elanco Animal Health. RU 10587-2

Wrangling a Cowboy Poet

n1500180011_30061601_556.jpgThe lights shone on the modest cowboy. His fitted black Wrangler jeans revealed legs, lean and agile. His aqua blue pearl button shirt coupled with a tightly tied orange scarf contrasted against the dark of the room. He wore a black cowboy hat atop his head that shaded his eyes and a handlebar mustache veiled his fast talking mouth. In his hand, he gripped a daunting black microphone. The microphone had a job to do: keep up with the talking cowboy and survive the action. The cowboy was a poet, one of the best of his kind. You could tell he had more than a few tricks up his sleeve—he jumped, he rolled, he quipped, he flipped. As he acted out his poems to the crowd, all eyes were fastened on him and laughter erupted from the souls of every cattlemen in the room. You see, the cowboy was Baxter Black, and he was telling our story, the agriculture story.

It was a year from December where I first had the opportunity to listen to Black, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled than to sit in my chair and roll with laughter as Baxter portrayed his adventures as a large animal veterinarian. As an aspiring speaker and writer myself, I knew I had to get an interview with the greatest cowboy poet in the world. Wrangling a cowboy poet isn’t as easy as it seems. This particular cowboy carries no cell phone and he doesn’t use a computer.

How was I possibly going to wrangle this cowboy for an interview with me? After all, I’m just a simple South Dakota farm kid. My love of agriculture started as a young girl where I grew up on a cow-calf operation, raising Limousin seedstock with my family. After a few chance opportunities changed my life, I was hoping to join the ranks of all the great individuals that served the industry as agriculture advocates. I wanted his secrets; I wanted to know all the answers to my many questions. First, I was going to get my interview.

After some persistent chasing, I scheduled an interview with Baxter through his secretary; we agreed to meet for breakfast in our downtown Denver hotel the next morning. As the new day awakened, I nervously waited for the cowboy poet. I was a mere five interviews into budding journalism career, and I was as green as a freshly weaned calf. He greeted me with the tip of his cowboy hat and a respectful bow. In true Southern gentlemen fashion, he pulled out my seat and sat across from me. I felt his eyes pore into me, sizing me up. He was probably wondering what in the world some college kid from South Dakota wanted with him.

As we looked over the menu, Baxter greeted the waiter in Spanish. We placed our orders, and while we waited, I interviewed the infamous Baxter Black.. He was feisty, he was spunky, and I could barely keep up with him. He joked, I laughed, and together we conquered the radio that day. I thanked my lucky stars! Over the course of two hours, Baxter shared a lot of stories with me, and he treated me as his equal. For over two hours, we discussed everything from immigration to veterinary medicine, from agriculture to our faith.

Bravely, I asked Baxter the secret to success. I yearned to learn everything I could from the self-proclaimed self-unemployed cowboy. I craved the independence and success that Baxter had found for himself, and I desired to serve as a voice for agriculture. I impatiently waited for his response.

With a twitch of his long, salt and pepper mustache and a twinkle in his sparkling eye, Baxter smiled at me as he told me the secret to life.

Hmm, Hmm the cowboy poet pondered. Well, I guess I will give you some advice. I worked for a man for ten years. He didn’t operate the normal way because he didn’t think of it that way. He taught me three things, although I didn’t realize it until years later. His lessons have served me quite well as a cowboy poet entrepreneur. He taught me: how to find the way when you don’t have a map, how to win the game when you don’t know the rules, and finally, when someone tells you it can’t be done, what they mean is—they can’t do it. Stick to your dreams young lady.

As he paid for my breakfast and we parted ways, I realized I had forgotten to get his autograph. Little did I know was that with his words, Baxter had given me the greatest gift of all.

U.S. Cattle on Feed Down 7 Percent

US - Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.0 million head on November 1, 2008. The inventory was 7 percent below November 1, 2007 and 8 percent below November 1, 2006.

National Agricultural Statistics Service

Placements in feedlots during October totaled 2.44 million, 11 percent below 2007 but slightly above 2006. Net placements were 2.37 million head. During October, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 700,000, 600-699 pounds were 615,000, 700-799 pounds were 543,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 580,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during October totaled 1.81 million, 3 percent below 2007 but 3 percent above 2006.

Other disappearance totaled 67,000 during October, 43 percent above 2007 but 17 percent below 2006.