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6 Trending Headlines: Learning from some really, really old bacteria; PLUS: Last-minute VFD advice

Max Wisshak (2012) New Mexico's Lechuguilla Cave, a place isolated from human contact until recently, is home to a remarkable prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

What can we learn about antibiotic resistance from 4 million year-old bacteria?

Research in a New Mexico cave, darkened for more than 4 million years, is shedding light on antibiotic-resistant bacteria. And what scientists are learning is throwing a twist into the argument that animal agriculture is the culprit.

In research published in Nature Communications, the scientists examined one bacterium (called Paenibacillus) found 1,000 ft. underground that demonstrated resistance to most antibiotics used today, including so-called "drugs of last resort" such as daptomycin. These microorganisms have been isolated from the outside world for more than 4 million years within the cave.

The results showed that the bacterium is resistant to 18 different antibiotics and uses identical methods of defense as similar species found in soils. This suggests that the evolutionary pressure to conserve these resistance genes has existed for millions of years — not just since antibiotics were first used to treat disease, according to Feedstuffs.

Click here to read more.

Quapaw Tribe to build meat processing plant

In an effort to increase food availability not just to tribal members but others as well, the Quapaw Tribe of eastern Oklahoma is building a meat processing plant near Miami, Okla. The plant, which is expected to be operational in May, 2017, is being built with help from the University of Arkansas, as well as Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, Oklahoma State University and Missouri State University, Feedstuffs reports.

The plant will include a classroom, laboratory and test kitchen and is being designed to process up to 50 animals per week. The tribe has cattle and bison on a ranch outside Miami. The ultimate goal of the ranch is to raise, slaughter, process, package and ship its own products to local businesses and stores, including the tribe’s restaurants in Quapaw Casino and Downstream Casino Resort.

Click here to read more.

Is stockpiled forage enough?

Grazing your herd through the winter on standing forages in pasture is one way to reduce costs and improve your bottom line. It avoids the expense of baling, moving feed and then feeding. But is the feed giving your livestock what they need to survive and thrive? 

Here’s the experience of one contributing writer to, who tested his stockpiled forage so he would know exactly what he had. Based on the cost of the ingredients, his pasture was worth between $53 and $62 dollars per ton. This forage displaces $150 per ton hay, delivered. Planning out your grazing, letting the animals harvest it themselves and getting the fertility transfer, not to mention you have rested plants going into next grazing season, are key factors in pasture management.

Click here to read more.

VFD looms. Here’s some last-minute advice

"One of the first questions that I typically get is, 'can I use one VFD authorization to shop around at multiple mills or distributors. And the answer is no." So says AJ Tarpoff, Kansas State University Extension veterinarian, who offers these last-minute tips on the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD).

He explains that one VFD order is written and it only goes to one distributor, generally whichever one you typically do business with. That's your preference. If you happen to find a better deal and wish to change where you do business, Tarpoff says you will have to close out the existing VFD order and have your veterinarian write another for the new distributor. In many ways, VFD orders act much like a prescription, he tells the Oklahoma Farm Report.

 Click here to read and hear more.

 Information available to help endure Southeast drought

While rains have come to the Southeast, the moisture hasn’t come in time and hasn’t been enough to mitigate the effects of a long and devastating drought in the region. To help producers, Alabama Extension has launched to help people develop strategies to battle the ongoing drought.

“ is a comprehensive resource for the state’s residents,” said Gary Lemme, Alabama Extension director. “It addresses the needs of farmers and producers as well as homeowners.” For beef producers, information on livestock and alternative feed sources is part of the information available.

Click here for more drought relief information.

Montana judge says beef checkoff is unconstitutional

In a decision that could have national implications, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston of Montana has recommended that the district court halt the transfer of money to the Montana Beef Council, claiming that the beef checkoff violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, according to the Oklahoma Farm Report.

"We are encouraged by (the judge’s) recommendation, even though it is still subject to the district court's review, because it marks the first time in well over a decade that anyone within any of our three branches of government has agreed to take a critical look at our complaints regarding the illicit operations of the beef checkoff program," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

To read more, click here.


7 last minute Christmas gifts for ranching families

Amanda Radke Career Farmer Barbie

Christmas is six days away! Are you scrambling to buy the perfect gift for your spouse, kids, grandkids or that picky, already-owns-everything sibling? No worries. I’ve rounded up several great holiday gift ideas. With fast shipping, you can get these items delivered to your doorstep and wrapped under the tree before Santa makes his rounds on Christmas Eve.

Here’s my quick, short list of gift ideas for 2016:

1. Snake River Farms gift collections

I received a Snake River Farms gift box for review recently, and I must say, despite having a freezer full of homegrown beef at my disposal, these steaks were top-notch, five-star restaurant quality cuts of beef that we enjoyed from the comfort of our home.

The Snake River Farms Hugh Acheson’s Curated Steak Box includes two 8-oz. American Wagyu filet mignons, two 6-oz. American Wagyu ribeye filets, one Lodge skillet, one Mercer saucing spoon, one Bragard kitchen towel, Jacobsen’s Flake Finishing Salt and Hugh Acheson’s Steak Cooking Guide. Valued at $199, this gift set aims to impress. Choose this one for the pickiest person on your list, and they’ll be absolutely wowed!

Order here.

2. Heart of the Farm calendars

There’s no doubt about it, farm and ranch life can be busy. Stay organized and keep everyone on the same page with these Heart of the Farm 2017 planners. Featuring beautiful agricultural photography, inspirational quotes and plenty of space for detailing your things-to-do lists, meal plans, goals and upcoming events, this is a must-have for the planner in your life.

Also, check out other Heart of the Farm items such as dish towels, decorative pillows, stationary and more for fun stocking stuffers.

Check them out here.

3. FarmHer Barbie

The must-have doll for the season is sold out and out of stock everywhere. She’s the Barbie Careers Farmer Doll, and she’s perfect for the aspiring cowgirls on your list. Just $9.99 on Amazon Prime, the Farmer Barbie will be back in stock on Christmas Day. Pre-order now and let the special girl in your life know that a gift she’ll enjoy and appreciated will be at her doorstep by early 2017.

Pre-order yours here. 

Edited to add: It appears Amazon has spiked the price on Barbie Careers Farmer Doll to $32 due to the rush in demand. A second option to consider would be the Barbie Careers Farm Vet Doll & Playset. It's available for sale here. 

4. FosCam Weatherproof Wireless Outdoor Camera

Calving season is just around the corner, and this barn camera would be the perfect gift to save some cold, late night checks for the rancher in your life. Simply check your phone or computer to view the inside of your calving barn. There’s plenty of options out there, but we’ve been really happy with this camera, which is available on for $249.99. It’s got night vision, motion detection and smart phone connectivity. Plus, you can use it inside a barn during calving season and move it into the front yard for security during the rest of the year. It’s a gift that every rancher needs and will undoubtedly appreciate.

Check out the cameras here.

5. Ranch-inspired kids’ books

While you’re on Amazon, take advantage of free two-day shipping with a Prime membership and load up on stocking stuffers! Books make great gifts, no matter what the age. For kids, check out my children’s book, “Levi’s Lost Calf” on Amazon or consider other ranch-inspired kids’ books including — Charlie The Ranch Dog, Sarah The Showman, Sam and the Show Steers Save Christmas and B is for Buckaroo, just to name a few.

Shop Amazon's collection of ag books here.

6. The Happy Toy Maker

For your kids or grandkids who want to follow in your footsteps, consider these toy scale model farm toys from The Happy ToyMaker. Handmade in Texas, you can purchase semi-trucks, pickups, rodeo sets, loading chutes, gates, corrals, feedlots, arenas, stalls, cake bins, trailers and livestock. These toys are so cool, you’ll want to join your kids and play, too!

Shop here.

7. Barn Baby Boutique blankets

My friend and fellow ag advocate, Celeste Harned, has launched an amazing new product line featuring personalized blankets, bibs and more for the newborn ranchers in your family. These products feature the livestock animal of your choice, and because they are custom made, it might be hard to get these before Christmas, but consider these for a fun Valentine’s Day or baby shower gift. If you need a gift ASAP, Celeste has $5 printable items that make excellent gifts for a kids’ room or a family room.

Check out the Barn Baby Boutique’s Facebook page here.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas for the people on your list this Christmas. If you’re done shopping, save these ideas for birthdays coming up in 2017. Happy shopping!

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

Farm Progress America - December 19, 2016

Max Armstrong has a fair number of farmer friends who are already deploying unmanned aerial vehicles on their farms. In this installment of Farm Progress America, he shares a few insights into the use of UAV's, or drones, on the farm. From keeping up with the latest rules (including that written test you have to pass to fly), to the time it takes to capture information, he shares a range of ideas.

In addition, Max notes one other investment farmers will want to make when they get a UAV - extra batteries. So take a listen to today's episode for more information on maximizing your drone investment.

Texas FFA chapter connects beyond the school

This week’s Nationwide FFA Chapter Tribute profiles Troy FFA, Troy, Texas.

The 312 member group is involved in a number of community activities. Member Megan Newman talks about two important ones.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Orion Samuelson at or to Max Armstrong at They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online, on Facebook at, on Twitter at

Transition in Washington, USDA's work, fighting forest fires

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong talk about a range of issues. This week Orion shares information from his recent visit to Washington D.C., including what's happening with the transition, noting that the big winner is the moving industry. Max points out, however, that the halls of Washington are fill with people with long-careers in the nation's capital. Orion shares that viewers will soon see his 38th interview with the Sec. of Agriculture, including his eighth with Vilsack. Orion shares some insight into what Secretary Vilsack discussed, that profile will air Dec. 31.

Orion and Max share insight into the work of those staff members in USDA, their work and the Forest Service, which is part of USDA. The Forest Service is fighting more fires, and some of the issues involved with that issue.

And Orion offers a preview of the special Christmas Show that will air Dec. 24. This year the show will be a retrospective of music and worship from three country churches.

Over a Cup is a weekly tradition where show hosts Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong cover items they didn't have time to discuss during the show. Often they are joined by meteorologist Greg Soulje, and sometimes other guests for deeper conversation. The topics or Over a Cup can range far and wide, and offer insights into key topics from these veteran agriculture broadcasters.

What farmers want for Christmas

Samuelson Sez is a special feature of This Week in Agribusiness where Orion Samuelson shares his thoughts and insights into key issues of the day.

This Week in Agribusiness, December 17, 2016

Part 1

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong open this week's show insight from Secretary of Agriculture on President-elect Donald Trump's choice for Ambassador to China - Gov. Terry Branstad. Brad Greenway, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, talks about the group's Faces of Farming and Ranching Program. In This Week's Farm Challenge of the Week Kyle Dopp, sales agronomist, Heartland Co-op talks about soybean Sudden Death Syndrome. And Farm Broadcaster Mike Hergert, Red River Farm Network, Grand Forks, N.D., talks about issues for that parts of the country, including the rumor that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. has been listed as a candidate for Secretary of Agriculture.

Part 2

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong look at the commodities markets with Naomi Blohm, Stewart-Peterson. In Samuelson Sez, Orion Samuelson offers his take on what farmers want for Christmas - and he's not talking about things you can buy. And Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Western United States.

Part 3

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong share a report from Lynn Ketelsen looking at the Renewable Fuel Standard volume rules set by EPA - at 15 billion gallons. Tom Rodgers, Firestone, talks with Orion about new farm tire technology from that company - AD2 - which allows farmers to carry more load with less pressure.

Part 4

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong open this segment with a Best of the Farm Progress Show look at crop yields with Jenny Goodman, DuPont Crop Protection. And Austin Studer, DuPont Crop Protection shares insight on controlling herbicide-resistant weeds. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. In Max's Tractor Shed, Max tells the story of a 1959 Farmall 560 LP owned by Bettenhausen Farms, Beecher, Ill. And Max shares a video of a New Idea corn picker being pulled by a Caterpillar, from

Part 5

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong continue their market conversation with Naomi Blohm, Stewart-Peterson. They talk about the 2016 market and the pricing opportunities that popped up during the season, and she offers insight for tactics in 2017.

Part 6

Orion Samuelson opens this segment with the FFA Chapter Tribute, which profiles the Troy FFA, Troy, Texas, with 312 members. Member Megan Newman shares information about the group's activities in the community. And Ag Meteorologist Greg Soule looks at weather for the week ahead including the four-week forecast.

Part 7

Max Armstrong wraps up this week's show with a look at swine health and work to prevent disease. He talks with Dr. Megan Inskeep, Merck Animal Health, who works with the Fair Oaks Pig Adventure to keep animals in that operation healthy. This facility is a tourist-focused operation designed for teaching. It's located southeast of Chicago in northwest Indiana. And next week, This Week in Agribusiness offers its special Christmas Show.

DNA test scores show real-world cow-calf application

Red Angus steers

DNA tests are now routine for seedstock breeders. But are they valuable for commercial cow-calf producers who are trying to optimize efficiency while controlling costs?

The answer is yes, according to the results of a recent study. The study, completed by the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA), gathered DNA data on a set of Red Angus calves and followed the cattle through harvest, collecting phenotypic data. The results illustrate that DNA scores accurately predicted carcass weight, marbling score and overall carcass value.

The cattle were raised and owned by Bob and Elaine Yackley of Onida, S.D., and fed at a custom feedyard. A total of 91 head of 2015-born steers comprised the group that was DNA tested with Igenity Silver and followed through harvest to obtain carcass data on each individual animal.

The top 25 head with the highest DNA scores for average daily gain (ADG) and marbling were compared to the bottom 25 head, which exhibited the lowest combined DNA scores for the same two traits. The comparative analysis reveals that the top DNA-scoring steers produced heavier carcass weights as a result of faster rates of gain (21 pound advantage). They also had higher average marbling scores and higher quality grades, with notably more upper two-thirds Choice grade carcasses.

Even in a softened fed cattle market, the difference in value between the two groups was $50.60 per head favoring the high DNA-scoring steers. Weight and marbling make a big difference when selling cattle on a grid.

“These cattle had the right combinations of genetics and management in addition to being fed to the correct endpoint,” explained Gary Fike, RAAA director of commercial marketing. “The fact that out of the 50 head in this comparison, there was only one Yield Grade 4 in the low-DNA group and none among the top-DNA steers, is a testament to that.”

Fike, who organized and conducted the field study, further noted that these results demonstrate how DNA can be successfully used in commercial operations. “This is real-world data,” he said. “By using DNA testing and eliminating low-scoring animals for the traits of interest, producers can be confident they are building superior genetic value into their herds. That is why we recommend testing all replacement heifer candidates and culling low-scoring females before breeding."



2017 Florida Ranching calendar celebrates rich history

Florida ranching

Florida is rich in ranching history. In fact, the story of Florida’s cattle ranches spans 500 years. Ranching’s history and importance to Florida is being shared is through an unlikely source: the award-winning Florida Ranches Calendar, now celebrating its 12-year anniversary.

“The calendar is an effective educational tool that raises awareness about the important role these ranches play in preserving Florida’s environmental, agricultural and cultural heritage,” said Stacy Ranieri, president of the public relations firm The Firefly Group and publisher of the calendar. 

The use of visually stunning photographs from photojournalist and eighth-generation Floridian Carlton Ward Jr. tells the story of Florida’s cattle industry, showcases a diversity of ranches, and pays tribute to their outstanding conservation efforts.

To commemorate the “Twelve years of Twelve Months” milestone, the 2017 edition contains a retrospective on Carlton’s photos from past calendars. The pages are filled with sweeping aerial vistas and spirited cattle drives, to foggy sunrises and tranquil sunsets.  New photos from Gil Williams, the official photographer of the Great Florida Cattle Drive and cousin of Carlton Ward Jr., as well as the winners of an online photography contest, are also included.

“Florida’s cattle ranches encompass nearly a fifth of our state’s land, protects critical wildlife habitat for dozens of endangered species, sustains the headwaters of most of our rivers and estuaries, yet remains little known to the more than 20 million people who call Florida home,” explained Ward Jr., National Geographic Explorer and chief photographer since the calendar’s inception.

The calendar, however, is much more than a gorgeous display of the beautiful landscapes and way of life on these ranches. It is also an abundance of information and includes narratives from notable Floridians such as Patrick Smith, Adam Putnam, Clay Henderson and Alto “Bud” Adams Jr.

“Throughout Florida’s 500-year history, Florida’s cattle ranchers have built and sustained a reputation as good stewards of the land. Their strong stewardship ethic has preserved thousands of acres of pristine native range and pasture land across the state of Florida,” wrote Adam H. Putnam, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, in a previous ranch calendar. “These lands support incredibly diverse populations of plants and animals - many threatened or endangered. Future generations of Floridians, if they are to enjoy the same quality of life we currently enjoy, will depend on the working ranchlands to remain and thrive.”

The 2017 Florida Ranches “Legacy Edition” Calendar is available for sale online for $15 each at School and non-profit rates and bulk order discounts are also available. They make great holiday gifts for your friends, family, clients and colleagues.  For more information, contact The Firefly Group at 772.287.5272 or

Calendar Sponsors include:  4G Ranch; Adams Ranch; The Andersons Inc.; Ard, Shirley & Rudolph; Babcock Ranch; The Balmoral Group; Blackbeard's Ranch; Carlton Ward Photography; Clear Springs; Court Street Partners LLC; Dean Mead; Deseret Cattle & Citrus; Family Lands Remembered; Farmton Cattle Company; The Firefly Group; Flatwoods Consulting Groups; Florida Cattleman's Association; Florida Cattleman's Foundation; Florida Crystals; FPL; Frasier Family Farm LLC; Gas Pros, Inc.; Gil Williams Photography; JB Ranch; Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.; The MilCor Group; The National Wild Turkey Federation; S.Y. Hartt & Son, Inc.; Strickland Ranch; Usher Farm



Weekly Cattle Market Wrap-Up | Extremely large cow run hits town

Weekly Cattle Market Wrap Up

We saw another big run of feeder cattle with over 46,000 head which was down 4,000 head from the previous week but almost 20,000 head over last year. Prices for calves were steady to weak but yearlings bound for the feedlots were $1-$4 highers on the heels of increasing CME because many feedlots are hedging their purchases.

Turning to slaughter cows, an extremely large cow run with over 11,000 head hit the the market, but that included several bred cow specials. The prices were unevenly steady and many packer buyers were buying extra cows and sending them to feedlots because of the holiday shutdowns.