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Articles from 2015 In November


6 silage safety guidelines to remember

6 silage safety guidelines to remember

It’s that time of year when folks are starting to dip into their silage piles and feed cattle. As winter weather kicks in, folks can often get in a hurry to get chores done and get back into the warmth of the house. Taking shortcuts when it comes to feeding silage can hurt the quality of the silage itself and put yourself in an unsafe situation.

There are two considerations for silage management, says Rory Lewandowski, Ohio State University (OSU) Extension educator. According to Lewandowski, these include how to “manage the removal of silage from the silo to maintain silage quality and promote animal intake and the other on how to keep farm workers, family, and visitors safe around the bunker.”

On the management side, it’s important to remember that exposure to air harms the quality of the silage. In a recent column for OSU Beef News, Lewandowski explains, “The reason is that yeast begin to grow in the presence of oxygen and those yeast metabolize the lactic acid that was formed during silage fermentation.”

Meanwhile, there are many safety considerations to keep in mind, including these six from Lewandoski:

  • Never stand closer to the silage face than three times its height. When a silage avalanche occurs, the silage falls down and runs out away from the silage face.
  • Do not fill bunker silos higher, or create silage piles higher, than your unloading equipment can reach. These are the situations that most typically create overhangs when removing silage. Generally most unloading equipment can reach 12 to 14 feet above the silage floor.
  • Follow the ‘buddy’ rule and never work in or near a bunker or pile alone. Suffocation is a major concern in the event of a silage avalanche and the minutes saved in a rescue attempt because of the buddy rule could mean the difference between life and death.
  • Use proper removal or unloading techniques. Never dig the bucket of a loader into the bottom of the silage. Do not undercut the silage face. Shave the silage from the top down on the silage face and maintain a smooth silage face.
  • “When collecting a silage sample for quality analysis, do not sample from the silage face. Collect silage in a loader bucket and sample from that loader bucket after it has been moved a safe distance from the silage face.
  • “Consider posting a warning sign: ‘Danger! Silage Face Might Collapse’ around the perimeter of bunkers and piles.”

Do you feed silage? How do you manage your silage for quality and stay safe in the process? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

 

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Cattle feeders are enduring record losses

Cattle feeders are enduring record losses

“Cattle marketed in November 2014 were the last to exhibit positive cattle feeding margins,” say analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), in the November Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. “October 2015 margins were negative by over $500 per head and could easily continue in the red until at least January 2016 (basis High Plains Cattle Feeding Simulator). These negative margins will likely exert even more downward pressure on feeder cattle prices, as well as on cow prices, and could temper enthusiasm for what has appeared to be a rapid buildup in U.S. cow inventories.”

In fact, analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center say in the latest Livestock Monitor that this year will go down as the worst ever in terms of cattle feeder profitability.

Keep in mind, estimated losses are on a cash-to-cash basis and exclude risk management.

“In terms of breakeven sales prices, the first four months of 2015 required sales prices in the $180’ per cwt (fed cattle) to cover all estimated costs of production,” LMIC analysts explain. “From May through December, the breakeven was in the $160s to the low $170s. That picture will change for cattle sold as early as January 2016. At recent prices for a 700-800 pound steer, the breakeven sale price is projected to be about $140.00 per cwt. That will be the lowest level since the closeouts (when fed cattle were sold) in June 2014.”

winter wonderland gallery

Breathtaking photos of winter on the ranch
The first snow hit parts of the Midwest this week. Mentally prepare for the winter wonderland with these stunning photos. See photos here.

 

Lower breakevens are coming mostly from lower calf and feeder cattle prices. 

“Over the last few months, market prices have been adjusting—fed cattle prices have declined dramatically month-on-month and year-over-year—but feeder steer prices (basis 700-800 pounds) have adjusted even more…” LMIC analysts explain. “In the Southern Plains, 700-800 pound steer prices have dropped by over $32 per cwt or by 16%. Over that same timeframe, Kansas slaughter steer prices have declined a much more modest $10 per cwt or about 9%. The price difference between those two cattle weights has gone from being dramatically above a year ago, to down $21.44 per cwt year-over-year last week. Year-over-year declines in premiums for feeder cattle relative to feds are forecast to persist until well into 2016.”

 

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Heavyweight cattle persist but show glimmers of improvement

Heavyweight cattle persist but show glimmers of improvement

“The trend for heavier-weight placements continued again in October,” says Kate Brooks, agricultural economist at the University of Nebraska, in the latest In the Cattle Markets. “All weight categories saw declining placement numbers compared to year ago, except the heavyweight category (800 pounds and over) which increased placements by 5.4%. Decent forage and pasture conditions throughout much of the U.S. has continued to be a major driver, allowing cattle to stay out of the feedlots longer and placing at heavier weights. Recent rains in the southern states have allowed for decent wheat pasture conditions. This trend for placing heavier cattle could continue for another couple of months.” 

According to the November Cattle on Feed report, 2.28 million head were placed in October, which was 4% less than a year earlier. Placement of cattle weighing more than 800 pounds was 30.2% of the mix.

Analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) point out the increased proportion of heavier cattle entering the feedlot continues as overall placements declined year over year in eight of the last 10 months.

“In the past six months, total feedlot placements are 452,000 head less than the same period in 2014,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments. “While feedlot placements are expected to begin increasing in the coming months, it is clear that feedlot numbers will remain tight through the first half of 2016.”

According to Peel, average steer carcass weights are about 10 pounds lighter than their peak in mid-October at 930 pounds. Average heifer carcass weights are about 4 pounds lighter at 845 pounds.

“The bad news is that cleaning up the backlog of heavy cattle dumped a lot of beef into the market that will be factor for the remainder of the year,” Peel explains. “Feedlots are still struggling with poor margins (see “Cattle feeders are enduring record losses”) and still have an incentive to push weights. Hopefully, the lessons from last fall about the consequences of pushing weights too far are still top of mind. Winter weather may help impose some discipline on cattle weights as well.  In addition, the recent adjustments down in feeder prices should encourage feedlots to move heavy cattle and replace them on a more timely basis.”

 

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Calf and yearling prices move higher

Calf and yearling prices move higher

Cash and futures prices found some stability following the previous week’s dive. However, given ongoing volatility and the vagaries of gauging trends during a holiday-shortened week, nobody is proclaiming that the seasonal ebb is finally in the rearview mirror.

Calves traded mostly steady to $10 per cwt higher at major auctions—in a light test of calves weighing less than 500 pounds—ahead of the Thanksgiving break, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Yearlings traded steady to $4 higher. Direct trade was firm with instance of $3 higher.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.58 higher week to week through the front five contracts ($1.12 to $2.37 higher) and then an average of 50¢ higher. That builds upon gains the prior week.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.77 higher week to week through the front three contracts and then an average of 75¢ higher.

There was too little reported trade through Friday afternoon to trend weekly cash fed cattle prices. The previous week, dressed sales in the north were $3-$7 less at $195 per cwt. Live sales were $2-$5 lower at $123-$129.

Week to week, Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.16 higher at $204.40 per cwt on Friday. Select was $4.55 higher at $195.50.

Gains in wholesale beef prices came despite the Monday’s bearish USDA Cold Storage report.

Total red meat supplies in cold storage were record high for the month of October, since the data was first recorded in 1916. Frozen beef supplies were 34% more year-to-year and frozen pork supplies were up 13%.

Total stocks of chicken were 31% more than last year—record high for the month of October, since the data was first recorded in 1939.

Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, pointed out in his market comments last week that current market doldrums include the price correction from the fourth quarter of 2014 being exacerbated with seasonal declines in calf and feeder cattle prices.

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Plus, available forage and market wariness meant seasonal market flows were altered as producers waited longer to ship calves. Some continue to wait.

“Prior to the price decline that began in August, there was incentive for cattlemen to keep cattle in the country on grass, because the value of gain was greater than the cost of gain,” Griffith explains. “Thus, many of those cattle entered the feedlot at a much later time than would be normal. It is likely many of those cattle stayed on pasture even when prices began to decline, as it would have been easy to think that prices would rebound in the near term. However, prices did not rebound and it is likely we have more than one full calf crop being moved to the feedlot at this time due to the holdover of last year’s calf crop. Producers should not expect a price resurgence before the end of the year for calves or yearling cattle. Further declines in the yearling market are becoming less likely but more downward pressure is possible.”

 

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NEW Thanksgiving poll; PLUS: “Thankful” contest winners

Happy Thanksgiving from my ranch to yours. I hope you’re celebrating this American tradition with loved ones and are taking a moment to give thanks for life’s many blessings.

Thanksgiving was first celebrated as a federal holiday in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Its roots go back to 1621 and a celebration by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World.

In honor of that first feast, Americans still gather around tables to dine on traditional Thanksgiving fare. This week’s poll on beefmagazine.com asks, “What did you eat at your Thanksgiving meal?”

Vote in the poll here.

Chances are, if you entered our November “Thankful” contest, you’re eager to learn who our winners are. We had 30 entries in our contest, and we’ve randomly selected three winners to take home a western art print, courtesy of BEEF.

View the complete gallery of entries here. 

Congratulations to Bailey Bannister, Daniel Newberry and Sheila Ressler.

Photo submitted by Bailey Bannister

Bannister writes, “I’m thankful for the ability to pursue happiness.”

Photo submitted by Daniel Newberry

Newberry writes, “I am thankful for sprouting seeds and newborn calves; for the miracles some mistake for mundane.”

Photo submitted by Sheila Ressler

Ressler writes, “I’m thankful for my children, bright blue skies and good friends.”

Thanks again to everyone who participated. I hope you are all having a blessed and relaxing Thanksgiving.

By the way, if you’re on social media today, use the hashtag #RanchersGiveThanks and tag @BEEFMagazine in your post. We would love to hear from you!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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How beef by-products showcase sustainability

A new Meat MythCrusher video is focusing on what happens to the sizeable portion of animal carcasses that are rendered into products other than meat.

The video, produced by the Meat Institute and the American Meat Science Association, features Dale Woerner, Ph.D., associate professor at Colorado State University who says, "Rendering certainly adds to the sustainability of our industry in that we repurpose or reuse almost the entire animal for many things. We're able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that can be equated to 12 million cars per year off U.S. roadways."

Woener explains that the additional products derived from animals such as leather, medicines, cosmetics and pet food are often not included in calculations of sustainability cited in the media.

According to NAMI, by-products from cattle and other species are routinely used in a variety of ways. Textile, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and other industries are all able to find a functional use for animal by-products.

To read the entire article and watch the video, click here.

 

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Thoughts on weaning & the fall calf run

After selecting the bulls we will sell in 2016 and the replacement heifers we planned to retain, last week we sold the remaining steers and heifers at the sale barn. Although the group doesn't represent the top end of our calves, it’s always exciting to watch the group sell. We take pride in offering a set that have been weaned, vaccinated, and are bunk-broke and ready for the feedlot.

Weaning for our operation takes place in early October. It was a beautiful weekend to sort, vaccinate, castrate and dehorn calves, and the calves quickly hit the bunks eating feed. Our only complaint was how dry it was this year, and it was somewhat dusty in the first weeks of weaning. Fortunately, we received some timely rains in mid-October, which helped settle the dust and eliminate that issue as we finished weaning the calves.

Looking back on the fall markets, if we could change things, we would have sold soon after weaning instead of in November as prices have continued to move lower; however, hindsight is 20/20, and we are mindful that these are still the second-highest prices on record.

This week’s poll on beefmagazine.com asks, “How did weaning go this year?”

Grandpa and granddaughter watching their calves sell.

With 50+ votes so far, 77% of voters say weaning went great, and the calves are healthy and doing well. Another 13% admit they’ve had better years. Meanwhile, 8% aren’t sure as they are still weaning, and the final 2% haven’t started yet.

Voters dluhrsen and Jerry Laskody agree that while weaning went well, the timing of selling calves didn’t coincide with the best market prices.

​Dlhursen writes, "Bad move on my part, prices continued down. There's no take backs."

Laskody adds, "Now if the prices would just get better..."

What do you think? How did weaning go on your operation this year? Have you sold calves yet this year? Were you satisfied with the prices you received for your calves? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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Consumers want transparency. Are you ready?

Hamburger
<p>Consumers want to know what&#39;s in their hamburgers. Photo/Getty Images</p>

If you’re growing weary of hearing about the need for further transparency in this age of consumer inquisitiveness and activism, then consider the implications of recent research from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).

“Transparency works,” says Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. “We have statistical data to show that increasing transparency in farming, food production and processing will increase consumer trust.”

Arnot is talking about results from CFI’s research report titled A Clear View of Transparency and How it Builds Consumer Trust. It includes results from an online survey of 2,000 people, exploring which attributes are most important to consumers when it comes to trust-building transparency – policies, practices, performance or verification.

Research focused on these areas of consumer concern:

  • Impact of food on health
  • Food safety
  • Impact on the environment
  • Human/labor rights
  • Treatment of animals raised for food
  • Business ethics in food production

“Consumers want to know more about what you are actually doing in these important areas,” Arnot says. “They also want the ability to engage by asking questions through the company website and they expect straight answers in a timely fashion.”

While this pertains directly to food companies, Arnot points out that companies may increasingly rely upon more information from suppliers in order to provide consumers the transparency they seek.

Consider third-party verification as an example.

“This study clearly shows consumers hold food companies most responsible for demonstrating transparency in all six areas,” Arnot says. “Even when it comes to on-farm animal care, an area one might assume people look to farmers to provide, consumers told us food companies are most responsible. This could lead to food companies requiring more information from their suppliers and reporting more information to consumers when it comes to the treatment of animals raised for food.”

As chronicled over time in BEEF magazine, various food companies are already going down this road.

Incidentally, Arnot adds, “Third-party audits of animal well-being and food safety practices are the minimum level of investment for transparency, but because it’s somebody from outside an organization reporting on its performance, a third-party audit doesn’t reflect the organization’s values and therefore is not as powerful in demonstrating transparency.”

Examples of practices that demonstrate transparency include the information provided on product labels, offering engagement opportunities through company websites and protecting whistleblowers.

Need for transparency grows with consumer concern

Understanding more about what grows consumer trust is good news, considering current and emerging technologies that will require plenty of transparency.

The ongoing debate over the judicial use of antibiotics in livestock comes to mind. As well, there is growing concern that debates in that arena could ultimately carry over to other long-used technologies.

There are the occasional black swans like the recent blunder by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. And there’s all of the new stuff, too, like the Food and Drug Administration granting approval to GMO salmon, after years of foot-dragging.

Bernie Rollins, distinguished professor and university bioethicist at Colorado State University—a longtime friend of beef producers—offered insights about consumers’ evolving views of animal welfare in a BeefVet article earlier this year. The point is germane to all of these other issues.

hard working ranchers gallery

70 photos show ranchers hard at work on the farm
Readers have submitted photos of hard-working ranchers caring for their livestock and being stewards of the land. See reader favorite  photos here.

 

“How many of you think that people advocating for animal welfare or for animal rights are a small group of crazies, malcontents, ingrates or extremists that don’t appreciate the fact that we have the safest food supply in the world, blah, blah, blah?” Rollin asks. “If people in defense of animals were radicals and extremists, they (animal-welfare-based referenda) could not, by definition, pass by a handy majority.”

Rollin explains that state referenda spearheaded by the Humane Society of the United States in a dozen states—aimed at things like banning battery cages, veal crates and sow stalls—have all passed by margins of at least 2 to 1.

“Blindness to obvious points like this can hinder your ability to manage issues such as referenda that dictate change to animal agriculture,” Rollin explains.

 

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Zoetis industry support program boosts FFA, veterinary students

The hand that helps out is often the hand that helps up. And encouraging young people in agriculture to not only extend a helping out but to pass it along is one of the fundamental responsibilities the industry enjoys.

The Zoetis Industry Support Program is returning for its eighth year and providing around $1.5 million in donations to selected FFA chapters and veterinary student scholarships. This annual program not only represents an important investment for these organizations but also the future of these students. Since 2008, thousands of FFA chapters and several deserving veterinary students have been selected to receive support from the program.

“The Zoetis Industry Support Program allows us a unique opportunity to work with our customers to help advance and give back to the future of the industry,” said Jon Lowe, vice president, U.S. Cattle and Equine, Zoetis. “Together, we are able to provide continued support to future agricultural and veterinary leaders and learning experiences they otherwise might not have access to.”

All veterinary, animal health dealer and distributor customers have the opportunity to participate in the Zoetis Industry Support Program each spring. Customers can allocate a portion of their sales from eligible purchases of Zoetis cattle and equine products to local FFA chapters, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) or American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) foundations to fund veterinary student scholarships or the three organizations.* 

Graves County High School FFA in Mayfield, Kentucky, one of the FFA chapters selected this year to receive funds, uses support from the Zoetis Industry Support Program to maintain its animal facility on campus. On average, 300 FFA members use the facility each year and share their knowledge with approximately 450 second grade students during two annual on-site events.

“Our chapter helps to house horses and various small animals, which allows students to learn how to manage and care for them,” said Richard Horn, Graves County High School FFA chapter advisor. “We’ve been up against decreased funding, so we’re all very appreciative of having support.”

Alex Beck and Lauren Mundy, DVM, were selected to receive scholarships from the AABP and AABP foundations, scholarships made possible by the Zoetis Industry Support Program. 

“The scholarship enabled me to pursue advanced training courses,” said Beck, one of the 2015 AABP Foundation – Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship recipients and veterinary student at Washington State University. “I also plan to travel to several veterinary clinics over the course of my clinical year to better understand the diversity of bovine practice. These opportunities are invaluable for future veterinarians.”

Dr. Mundy said this program provides funds that help make the transition into the profession easier. 

“Student veterinarians are the future of the profession,” said Dr. Mundy, one of the 2015 AAEP Foundation – Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship recipients. “Giving back helps the veterinary industry advance and ensures the next generation is in a strong position to lead.” 

For more information on the Zoetis Industry Support Program, please contact your local Zoetis representative.

Material on BEEF Briefing Room comes directly from company news releases. Source: Zoetis

 

Help meet your horses’ nutritional needs with this handy app

With winter’s colder weather, the nutritional needs of all ranch animals comes sharply into focus.  That’s just as true for the ranch horse as it is for the other livestock. And perhaps it’s more true fort the ranch horse, given the critical role it plays as a partner in the daily life of ranch work.

To help ranchers meet the nutritional needs of their horses,  Zinpro Corporation announces the launch of its equine nutrition app, an educational resource designed to help horse owners better understand and evaluate equine nutrition programs. The new app, for tablet and mobile devices, is available free on the App Store® and Google Play (search Zinpro).

“The Zinpro equine nutrition app connects horse owners and stable managers with the educational information and practical tools needed to help improve equine well-being, from the inside out, and from head to hoof,” says Connie Larson, Ph.D., Research and Nutritional Services (RNS) ruminant manager – North America, Zinpro Corporation. “In addition to explaining the science behind the nutritional needs of the horse, the app also describes how to read a feed tag and what to look for in your horse’s feed.”

For optimal health and performance, a horse must receive essential nutrients, including water, energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. “Even moderate deficiencies in essential trace minerals can adversely impact immunity and enzyme function, as well as reproduction and overall performance,” says Dr. Larson. “With Zinpro Performance Minerals® in a balanced diet, animals are assured a highly available source of trace minerals to help them perform at their peak.”

Research shows that balanced trace minerals in the daily diet can help to improve immunity, reproduction, feed digestibility, hoof condition, joints and skeleton, as well as skin and coat health. According to Dr. Larson, Zinpro Performance Minerals provide effective trace minerals that are critical to maintaining or improving hoof quality and reducing lameness. She adds that hoof integrity is critical to all types of horses – performance and pleasure.

To learn more about equine nutrition, contact your Zinpro representative and visit the Equine Nutrition App landing page on zinpro.com. A free educational poster, as well as an educational book ($20), titled Building the Equine Hoof, are available upon request from Zinpro Corporation.

To learn more about Zinpro Corporation and its nutritional solutions for improved equine performance, visit the Zinpro Equine Nutrition Page.

Material on BEEF Briefing Room comes directly from company news releases. Source: Zinpro