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Dr. Glenn Wehner Inducted into Gelbvieh Hall of Fame

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Dr. Glenn Wehner of Rocking GV Gelbvieh in Kirksville, Missouri, was inducted into the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) Hall of Fame during the awards presentation at the AGA Virtual Annual Meeting  Dec. 4, 2020.

The AGA Hall of Fame recognizes individuals for lasting contributions to the growth and development of the Gelbvieh breed. Hall of Fame inductee selection requirements include contributions to breed promotion efforts, leadership provided to the association, and the breeding of superior genetics that are of great influence within the Gelbvieh and Balancer® cattle population.

Dr. Wehner, one of the earliest AGA members, was an agriculture science professor at Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri, where he introduced hundreds of students to the Gelbvieh breed. He holgd a Ph.D. in animal nutrition. He developed the first Gelbvieh herd maintained by Truman State University, as well as his own fullblood Gelbvieh herd.

“We bred purebreds at the time, at the university, and I wanted to stay with purebreds,” said Wehner. “A purebred operation is obviously different than a commercial, but you can teach all the commercial aspects with a purebred herd, so it seemed like a good fit for the university. When I put in my own herd, I decided we would go with fullbloods so that’s where we are today.”

Dr. Wehner has seen many positive changes within the breed over the years and has been influential in reducing mature cow size in Gelbvieh cattle.

“We’ve seen a lot of positive changes. We’ve stayed on top of the mothering ability, early fertility, pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed, longevity, and those things that definitely have an impact on the bottom line of an operation,” said Wehner.”

Along with his wealth of knowledge of the Gelbvieh breed, Dr. Wehner has been involved in many ways with the AGA and the American Gelbvieh Foundation (AGF) over the years. He has been a promoter of the fullblood Gelbvieh herd book, served on numerous committees and currently serves on the AGF board of directors as treasurer. With his involvement in the AGF executive committee, he has played an instrumental role in developing the AGA’s 50-year history book.

“I think it’s one of those things that gives us the history of the breed in Germany and all the way up to our present time,” said Wehner. “I think some of the positive changes we’ve seen are going to be very accepted and highlighted in that book.”

Willing to knowledgeably discuss the breed with anyone, Dr. Wehner continues to be an avid proponent of Gelbvieh cattle today, and still teaches a few classes at Truman State University. The endeavors and contributions of Dr. Wehner have not only improved the breed, but the association, as a whole.

“I am profoundly humbled by this nomination,” said Wehner. “When I looked at the line of people ahead of me with this honor, and thought about their contributions, it’s just surreal to be included in that line.”

The American Gelbvieh Association is a progressive beef cattle breed association representing 1,100 members and approximately 40,000 cows assessed annually in a performance-oriented total herd reporting system.

The source is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Rancher pays tribute to healthcare workers

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As the end of very challenging 2020 draws near, I seem to be spending more time looking for the positive things that have happened in the past 365 days.

Despite a pandemic, a deeply divisive presidential election, government shutdowns and more, I have seen the agricultural community shine in so many ways this year.

You’ve heard me speak frequently on how producers have found ways to innovate, pivot, connect, serve and lead through these hard times. And not only has this attitude helped to skyrocket successful businesses and reinvigorate consumer interest in cooking with beef, but it has also helped to change hearts and minds about who we are in rural America.

A great example of this sentiment is a Nebraska rancher who recently received national media attention for feeding his cattle this winter, with a unique and special twist.

David Schuler is a Red Angus cattle rancher from Nebraska. He recently paid tribute to healthcare workers who have been on the front lines of this pandemic with a special video.

According to Jennifer Hardy for ABC8 Nebraska News, “Schuler lined up his cattle in a field in the shape of an EKG with a special heart shape in the middle, sent up a drone, and made a dedication video to doctors, nurses, first responders, and all other essential workers who’ve repeatedly gone above and beyond this year of battling a pandemic.”

Schuler said, “This year the only thing that made sense to me was to honor our true heroes, the backbone to the heartbeat.”

This is Schuler’s third video featuring cattle in the field. He has previously set the cattle up in the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day and to spell out the word “BEEF” for a beef promotional campaign.

Hardy writes, “How does he do it? He just put the food down in the shape of the design he wanted, something he has been experimenting with for years, and the cows just stood there to eat while he recorded the video. Schuler said he had about 15 minutes to snap the perfect production until the cattle got bored and wander away. Schuler may have captured hundreds of cattle but he has now captured the attention of millions of people."

Watch the full tribute video by clicking here.

Do you have more feel-good stories to share as 2020 comes to an end? There may be a lot of hardships experienced this year, but I firmly believe hope, optimism, joy and peace can be found in even the hardest of situations.

Please, email me your positive stories to [email protected], and I might share them on future BEEF Daily blog posts.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

Specialists: Uptick of Med Am use in livestock is not a trend

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MED AM USE: Even though 2018 saw increased use of Med Am over the previous year, 96% of that use was under the direction of a veterinarian designated as having a relationship with the farm.

The most recent data on the sale of medically important antibiotics for food-producing animals is the 2018 Summary Report released in December 2019. Examining year-over-year sales provides the ability to track industry trends, which assists with understanding the issues related to farm livestock health and management practices.

Medically important antimicrobials (Med Am) are those in which the same class of drugs are used in humans as well as in animals. It is believed that reducing the use of such in animals will reduce resistance to these drugs in humans.

This belief has brought about major changes in the animal agriculture industry as farmers who are involved with growing and raising animals for food proteins work to deliver the safest product possible for the consumer.

This report functions as a gauge for industry groups representing agriculture, including the U.S. Pork Producers, Cattleman’s Associations, dairy cooperatives and others to compare yearly usage reports and helps determine if further efforts are needed to decrease the use of Med Am.

In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration implemented directives that resulted in significant changes in use of Med Am for food production animals. These changes included how medication use was determined and justified so that usage was based on treatment of a disease.

The end result of this modification is that the use of Med Am, when no disease was known to occur, has decreased to almost zero. Changes also included enhanced veterinary supervision, which is now required for use of Med Am in all animals raised for food proteins through the use of veterinary feed directives (VFD). 

FDA tracks sales and distribution records for all antimicrobials used for veterinary purposes to estimate the amount of each class of antibiotic used in animals. The FDA Summary Report for 2018 shows that, when data is combined for all Med Am sales for all species of livestock, the amount (reported as total weight, not number of doses) increased by 9% over 2017 (see table below).

Antibiotics sold for use in U.S. livestock production, by species, 2016-18

The use of Med Am in all animal species dropped significantly from 2016. However, in some animal groups, there has been an increase over 2017 usage. For example, with pigs, the year-over-year increase was about 17% (increased by 351,416 kilograms) and with cattle an 8% increase (187,318 kilograms). Cattle and swine account for 81% of all Med Am use in food animal production.

Pork industry

When we take a closer look at Med Am sales, most of the increase in sales of medically important antibiotics used for pork production in 2018 came from sale of tetracyclines, especially chlortetracycline and oxytetracycline.

Tetracyclines make up almost two-thirds of all Med Am sales for food animal production, and account for about 80% of the total U.S. market for feed grade antibiotics used in pigs during the past several years. Sales of tetracyclines for use in swine increased 21% from 2017 to 2018.

While much smaller in volume than tetracyclines, sales of aminoglycoside and sulfa-containing antibiotics for use in swine also increased by greater than 40% in 2018, while lincosamides declined by 19%.

However, their net impact on total antibiotic sales for swine was small because amounts of these three classes combined was less than 6% of the tetracyclines. Although knowing why we see the increase in sales and distribution of Med Am for swine is not confirmed, we can look at changes in seasonality, herd health fluctuations and increases in respiratory issues as possible explanations for this documented growth. 

Cattle industry

Regarding the cattle that were fed antibiotics requiring a veterinary feed directive, there also is a slight uptick in sales and distribution data. Tetracyclines are again seen with an increase of 11% for use in cattle from 2017 to 2018. Lincosamides are not used in cattle, and sulfa drugs continued to decrease for cattle sales, but aminoglycosides also were up 10% year-over-year.

Like swine, there are several plausible reasons for the increase in sales and distribution of Med Am in the cattle industry. Med Am products may have been prescribed for dairy calves that developed respiratory disease because of seasonal stress or exposure, or in a beef feedlots when cattle are moved — and exposure, in combination with stress, increases respiratory problems.

FDA also tracks Med Am products that are administered as injectables or for intramammary use (see table below). Total injectable use declined slightly (1%) from the previous year, and intramammary use (likely dairy cattle only) declined a further 20% over 2017.

Antimicrobial drugs approved for use  in food-producing animals

Decreased administration of Med Am as injectables indicates that individual sick animal treatment has not likely increased, and the decreased use via intramammary treatment is further testament that mastitis continues to decline as more farms with very good mastitis control elect to practice selective rather than blanket dry cow treatment. 

While we do see an uptick in sales and distribution of Med Am from 2017 to 2018 for food producing animals, this cannot yet be considered a trend. The increased ability to track this type of data allows questions to be asked, while we wait for trends to develop.

Looking into this, we may start to ask, “What are the possible reasons for the 2018 uptick in feed and water administered Med Am sales for use in swine and cattle production?” 

Understanding the data

We are left with looking at possible scenarios for explanations. For the swine industry, this can include increased U.S. herd size, increased average slaughter weight, increased incidence of disease, less labor or less experienced labor, and other market dynamics.

The most likely result is that each of these may have contributed a portion of the gains. What we do know is that slaughter hog numbers, average weight of hogs at slaughter, and weight of pork produced are key end points tracked carefully by USDA, and each of these indicators also increased between 2017 and 2018. 

Another possible explanation for why sales and delivery of certain classes of medically important antibiotics increased is that these antibiotics were purchased in order to prevent or treat disease conditions that may have seen small increases in 2017 and 2018.

Based on a 2018 national survey initiated by MSU Extension, 31% of swine producers who responded reported an increase in disease following implementation of VFD guidelines, and 18% said they would like to learn more about non-antibiotic options for sick animals (follow-up action most frequently requested in the survey). In this survey, similar results were reported for cattle, which also showed an increase in antibiotic sales in 2018. 

Even though 2018 saw increased use of Med Am over the previous year, 96% of that use was under the direction of a veterinarian designated as having a relationship with the farm. While it is useful to pay attention to year-over-year antibiotic sales data, it is also important to recognize that results from one year don’t necessarily indicate a new trend.

Along with this data, it is important to understand that numerous factors influence when and how antibiotics are used to combat disease in pigs and other livestock.

Despite the uptick, FDA data suggest overall use in 2018 of medically important antibiotics in livestock was still the second-lowest, for the year, since 2009 when this metric for antibiotic sales to livestock producers was first reported.

These findings demonstrate that, in spite of the modest increase reported in 2018, overall use of antibiotics for swine and cattle production — when normalized against pounds of pork, beef and milk produced — remains well below historical averages, and suggests U.S. farmers remain committed and on the right track in their antibiotic stewardship efforts.

Dave Thompson is an MSU Extension swine educator. He can be contacted at [email protected] or 517-279-6414. Phil Durst is an MSU Extension educator who focuses on dairy and beef cattle health and production. He can be contacted at [email protected] or 989-345-0692. Beth Ferry is an MSU Extension swine educator. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 269-927-5674.

Source: Michigan State University Extension, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


Raising reliable recipient cows

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Linda and Rod Barnes, along with daughter, Dolly, raise 180 beef cattle near Selmer, Tenn. They’ve found a niche market by providing recipient cows for embryo transfer from purebred donor cows.

Rod and Linda Barnes raise 180-head of SimAngus cattle near Selmer, Tenn.  

That’s 180 black cows...but the calves come in all colors. 

“People who drive by and see the herd often ask us, ‘How did you get a solid white calf or a solid red calf out of that black cow?’” Linda recalled. “I tell them it would take a long time to explain.” 

The Barnes family runs a recipient herd. An embryologist will collect embryos from genetically elite purebred stock and place them in the Barnes’ cows. That cow will later give birth to a calf that is not genetically related. The Barnes’ commercial cows have raised purebred calves from just about every beef cattle breed. 

“My cows are not super cows, but they are excellent mothers,” Rod said. “My cow gives birth to the calf, nurses it for about seven months, and then those purebred breeders get those calves back, and they pay us for doing that for them.” 

Rod, Linda and daughter, Dolly, have been providing surrogates for purebred breeders for about 12 years. Although more work and time commitment are involved in a recipient herd, Rod says it’s a niche market that has proven profitable for their operation. 

“We contract a set price for each calf that we raise to weaning,” Rod said. “Because that calf will be elite breeding stock, the price is better than what I would get for just a commercial calf.” 

Ginger RowseyBlack Calf White Calf from recipient cows

Linda and Rod are often asked how a black cow can have a white calf. With embryo transfer, the calves on the Barnes farm come from multiple breeding programs and represent a variety of breeds.

How it started 

Rod and Linda grew up and attended college on opposite ends of the state. They actually met at a collegiate livestock judging contest where they competed against each other. After marriage, the couple settled near Linda’s hometown in western Tennessee where they started a family, careers and a farm. 

Rod and Linda had already built a strong commercial herd with a successful breeding program, when Rod met Wesley Klipfel, an embryologist and general manager of Cottage Farm Genetics in Jackson, Tenn. Klipfel shared that he always needed good recipient cows for embryo transfer. 

“Wesley came down and looked at my cows and liked their fertility and the way they were raising their calves,” Rod said. “The mothering ability of the recipient cows is one of the most important parts of this process.” 

The Barneses tried a few cows the first year and liked the program. Twelve years later they’re still working with Klipfel, who matches their surrogate cows with embryos from donor cows out of breeding stock across the country. 

“There is a great demand for recipient cows, and I see a lot of producers who try this for a year or two, but they don’t stick with it,” Klipfel said. “The Barneses do a great job and they have the confidence of the breeders.” 

Ginger RowseyWesley Klipfel

Wesley Klipfel, with Cottage Farm Genetics, prepares to place an embryo at the Barnes farm.

The process 

The goal of embryo transfer is to increase the number of offspring of genetically outstanding cows, as well as superior sires. It’s estimated one cow has up to 150,000 eggs, but through natural breeding, she’ll only produce 10-12 calves in a lifetime, a minuscule fraction of her breeding potential.  

Through a procedure called superovulation, hormone stimulation will cause the donor cow to release multiple eggs at a single estrus — in some cases as many as 10 or more. Those eggs are fertilized through artificial insemination. Then, seven days later, the fertilized eggs, or embryos are flushed. At this point the embryos can be immediately transferred to a surrogate cow or frozen for later use. The embryos are transferred using a rod similar to an AI rod. 

At the farm, Barnes will begin synchronizing his herd in groups of 30 cows. He’ll time the start of his synchronization protocol so that the recipient cows will be at day 7 of the estrous cycle when Klipfel arrives with embryos to be transferred. 

It is important that the recipient cow be at the exact same place in her estrous cycle as the donor cow so there is a similar uterine environment when the transfer takes place. Barnes says being off by just half a day will reduce the embryo’s chances for survival. And odds of survival are not great to begin with. When using frozen embryos, the industry average success rate is just over 50%. 

“Our farm average success rate is 55%, although we have a few groups of cows with success rates in the 70% range,” Rod said. “If the embryo is not successful, my bulls will breed them, so about 45% of my calves are sired by bulls in pastures.” 

Ginger RowseyEmbryo Straws

Each embryo is placed in a straw and frozen at 400 degrees below zero before being placed in a recipient cow.

A good recip herd 

With little room for error, producers will look for ways to maximize embryo survival. The Barneses say it starts with good mothers and a docile herd. 

“I’m using an F1 cross of Angus and Simmental because those two together make a female that’s about as good as we know how to produce,” Rod said. “They are extremely docile.” 

“You have to have cattle that are very calm, because if a cow gets upset and fights and resists, the adrenaline that goes in her bloodstream will almost always prevent her from getting pregnant with that embryo.” 

“Research data shows cows with poor temperaments will lose more pregnancies than docile cattle,” said Justin Rhinehart, associate professor with the University of Tennessee Department of Animal Science. “Perhaps more significantly, having a few high-headed cattle will negatively affect the reproductive function of the rest of the herd.” 

Cows that are not docile do not stay long at the Barnes farm. Rod said they are DNA testing their replacement heifers for genetic disposition for docility. But this retired ag teacher also understands the importance of creating an environment where these animals can live up to their genetic potential. 

“Her DNA may be for docility, but if I beat, bang, shock and scare her, she won’t be docile long,” Rod said. “We just can’t do things to upset the cows. It makes it almost impossible to get people to help because they want to bang and shout. That’s not allowed here.” 

Ginger RowseyWoman and Cows

The Barnes family insists on working cows in a calm, quiet manner to promote herd docility. They say docile cows have better reproductive success.

It takes a skilled crew to quietly and calmly work cows, and for the most part, it’s just Rod, Linda and Dolly. While Rod is retired, Linda and Dolly both work full-time jobs — Linda as a farm loan manager with the Farm Service Agency, and Dolly as a high school teacher — making for a busy family, particularly with the extra record keeping and cattle working that comes with a recipient herd. 

“You have to be willing to work these cattle through the chutes multiple times,” Rod said. “We probably take our cows through the chutes about four extra times to give them shots and make sure everything is just right.”  

Nutrition and herd health  

A good nutrition program is another key element of improving herd reproduction rates. 

“When we prepare to breed the cows, we bump their nutrition up, giving them supplemental feed and increasing their protein and TDN,” Rod said. “Females are more apt to get pregnant if they’re in a positive weight gain situation. We time it about three weeks on cows and a month on heifers.” 

Even if the pregnancy is successful, an embryo-transfer calf still has to be raised to weaning to complete the contract.  

“Your herd health has to be impeccable and your nutrition must be excellent,” Rod said. “If that calf doesn’t grow up to his genetic potential, I’ve done the breeder a disservice, and he probably won’t do business with me next year.” 

Challenges with recipient cows

Replacement heifers are a unique challenge for recipient cow herds. When you consider that most calves are going back to their breeders after weaning, and of the ones left, half are males, that only leaves about 20% of calves on the ground from which to choose replacements. 

“That’s almost as many as I’d like to keep as replacements,” Rod said. “So, I quickly realized when we started this that we needed high-quality cleanup bulls that were great on maternal traits.” 

“That’s been a negative, because those bulls are more expensive.” 

Having good facilities to safely work the cattle through is a must, which is another investment and a potentially limiting factor for some operations. 

“We don’t see a lot of recipient cow operations, although a lot have tried and it didn’t work out for them,” Rhinehart said. “It takes a really good commercial producer who already has good nutrition program, a defined calving season and reproductively sound cows.” 

“However, if you can deliver a weaned calf to the breeder in the condition that is expected, it can be very lucrative,” Rhinehart adds. 

“Small farmers like us are always looking for a niche market, for something that keeps us profitable,” Rod said. “The calves produced through embryo transfer are of great value, and while it takes more work, it’s been a good move for our farm.”  

Farm Progress America, December 28, 2020

Max Armstrong offers a look at insight from a CoBank economist on the farm income picture for 2021 and how it will be different than 2020. The good news is that rising commodity prices, a weaker dollar and historically low interest rates can help farmers in 2021. Max shares that there could be other benefits including fewer loan losses for lenders, and stable land prices too.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Hauged/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Farm Progress America, December 25, 2020

Max Armstrong shares how so many people are ready to be done with 2020. But he shares some observations of something positive – Christmas lights from the farm. Many of the farmers Max follows on social media have added lights this year – and they're new.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Stephen Simpson/iStock/Getty Images Plus

COVID cases for meat and poultry workers lower

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New analysis of independent data for the full month of November show that reported new COVID-19 infection rates amongst meat and poultry workers were more than eight times lower than rates in the general population.  

According to data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network, the meat and poultry sector was reported to have an average of 5.57 new cases per 100,000 workers per day in November. Infection rates amongst meat and poultry workers have declined steeply in the last six months, even as they surge across the United States.

The New York Times reports that during the same period, the average new case rate for the U.S. population was 45.36 cases per 100,000 people per day.

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The new analysis follows the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vote on December 20 to prioritize vaccination for frontline meat and poultry workers, joining a growing consensus that urgently vaccinating the sector’s diverse workforce is the next step for building on more than $1.5 billion in effective protection measures implemented since the spring.

"This new analysis is encouraging evidence that more than $1.5 billion in comprehensive protections implemented since the spring have reversed the pandemic’s impact on the selfless men and women who have kept Americans’ refrigerators full and our farm economy working throughout this crisis,” said Meat Institute president and chief executive officer Julie Anna Potts.


Top Dollar Angus hires new general manager

Top Dollar Angus Inc., a leader in genetic verification and marketing of high-value Angus and Red Angus-based feeder calves, is excited to announce Nathan Smith as their new general manager.

Smith joins Top Dollar Angus with a strong cattle and crop background, stemming from his family’s farm near Pratt, Kansas. His early upbringing in the livestock industry led him to a career in the cattle business, focused on assisting producers in the improvement of their livestock. Throughout his career, Smith has served the American Simmental Association as a field representative, the North American Limousin Foundation as a regional manager, and most recently as a territory manager for Neogen.

"I accepted this role with Top Dollar Angus because of the passion I have for the beef industry and look forward to continuing to work with the great people involved," said Smith. "This position with Top Dollar Angus is definitely a win-win in my mind. Not only do we get to verfiy and promote top-of-the-bell curve beef genetics, but also work with numerous producers and industry partners who share that same drive and passion for beef industry success."

Tom Brink, chief executive officer of the Red Angus Association of America and founder of Top Dollar Angus, said, "Nathan is the right person for this position to continue the company's rapid growth, and we are pleased to have him join our team. He has a great cattle production background and understands all segments of the beef industry from seedstock to packer. He has worked and traveled in many parts of the country and is familiar with the challenges ranchers face in different environments and market situations. We look forward to him becoming our new general manager in early 2021."

Nathan and his wife, Ashley reside in Colorado and maintain a small beef cow herd. Smith will assume his full-time duties with Top Dollar Angus on January 1, 2020.


Moving beyond 'conventional wisdom' to succeed

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Watch each Friday for Doug Ferguson's Market Intel blog on Beef Producer and BEEF magazine.

Editor's Note: Doug is early this week due to the holiday and will not produce a column on Jan 1.

There is so much conventional wisdom surrounding the cattle biz, and not much of it is good or accurate. Seriously, I think the best thing for a young person to do is be defiant and not listen to any of it no matter where it comes from. In the marketing school Wally Olson and I taught, I spoke about paradigms and where we get them, how they control us, and why they are so hard to replace. So when I say be defiant and don’t listen to conventional wisdom, I am suggesting you don’t accept broken paradigms as your own.

I am going to challenge the conventional wisdom that cattle can’t pay for the land. In the county I live in we are required to have a little over 3 acres in order to have an acreage in the country. I realize three isn’t much but just follow me for a moment.

On these three acres we have a house, and we built a pen. This pen is big enough to hold 100 head of feeders. Maybe it's just one big 100 -head pen or maybe we divide it into four 25-head pens. Hold this thought for a bit.

This week at an auction in Nebraska we could’ve sold 610-pound steers for $1.61 and replaced them with 395-pound bawling steers for $1.70. This trade gives us a Return on the Gain (ROG) of $1.44. This should be higher than our Break Profit Cost of Gain (BPCOG), which is cost of gain with a profit figured in. So we are making money.

At the same auction we could’ve sold 725-pound heifers for $1.3375 and bought back 535-pound bawling heifers for $1.4050, giving us a ROG of $1.14, which should be higher than our BPCOG, so this one makes us money as well.

Back to our acreage. Since we only have 100 head there really is no need for equipment, just some feed storage, buckets and pitchfork. A neighbor, your order buyer, or a salebarn cowboy will haul your cattle for you, so no need for a big diesel pickup and trailer either.

Here’s another assumption, since we only have 100 head, we are working a job somewhere. 100 head isn’t going to require much time out of the day.

If we figure in a $50 head profit on these trades above and do them 4 times a year we can easily make 20K in a year. (Of course, this is with no death loss, or hiccups to make the math come out easy)

With the full-time job and a 20K per year hobby we should easily be able to pay for that acreage. I know some of you are rolling your eyes thinking yeah but that’s on a small plot of land, I want something bigger. Ok just multiply it by 5.

This builds on what I wrote last week about enterprising out your operation. Charge yourself for feed, and pasture rents, and market the cattle in a manner that captures all these expenses and the cattle still make a profit.

Eventually the land will be paid for and the cattle too.

The power of starting small

The problem I see with a lot of young people is they want to start with an operation that is big enough to make a full-time income. You and the operation need time to grow. This is a crock pot not a microwave.

Looking back on my experience I could not have handled a 500-head deal right off at 19 years old. As my operation grew so did I. Some young folks could do it, most cannot. There is the marketing, the structuring of the business, networking, and day to day operations. We grow into these roles as our business grows. Just give it time, and don’t have the attitude that you’re too good to start small.

Looking back on what I just wrote I also blew the myth of “get big or get out” all to heck.

This week the regional auction markets were steady to a little higher. Fats got a little boost. There are some good fat to feeder trades to be made on cattle weighting 1000 pounds and over.

Feeder markets are not paying to put weight on over 900 pounds. Cattle weighing 7-900 pounds cover the COG, and fly weights also have a good VOG, setting the stage for some good feeder to feeder trades like I showed above.

Unweaned cattle were 6-13 back, and there was a 10-dollar discount for fleshy cattle. Some of the local cross roads sale barns had very light runs this week and they were 20 lower.

Keep a few things in mind the next couple weeks. Call the auction barn to be sure they will have a good run of cattle. This will keep you out of the 20 lower market like in the previous paragraph. Also, we are in what I call "tax dodger" season, which means some people are selling cattle, or not selling cattle right now based on their tax situation. A lot of the folks not selling now will typically sell right after the first of the year, and those auctions will get capped (if they’re not already) so call now to reserve a spot for your consignment.

Also think of who your customer is and what you are selling. This time of year, some operations have to be fair to their employees and cycle their time off for holidays. This may make some unwilling to purchase new cattle, especially if they aren’t weaned.

There will not be a blog next week. Some sales early in the week are cancelled for the holidays so there won’t be enough sales to trend anything.

Merry Christmas, and I hope Santa is good to you all tonight.

Scours management begins well in advance of spring calving

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Healthy calves represent future dollars to a cow-calf operation, helping to promote the sustainability of the farm or ranch enterprise.

Cattle producers with spring calving herds that have had diarrhea problems are encouraged to contact their large animal veterinarians now to plan management strategies, Oklahoma State University Extension experts recommend.

Commonly referred to as scours, calf diarrhea can be caused by factors such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, congenital conditions or nutrition. Many causes of scours are contagious, so scours can become a concern for the entire calf crop. A severe case can result in animal death.

“Producers should discuss treatment plans and protocols well in advance,” said Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, OSU Extension veterinarian and director of continuing education for the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Having these types of discussions saves time, energy and dollars, and it improves overall animal welfare.”

rosslyn_biggs_1800.jpgDr. Rosslyn Biggs, OSU Extension veterinarian and director of continuing education for the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine (Photo courtesy of OSU)

Aside from the lost calves, other direct costs can include labor charges, medications and laboratory fees. Indirect costs include subsequent bouts of pneumonia and poor performance that may affect an animal throughout its lifetime.

“The veterinarian will be up to date on the latest developments in vaccines and their implementation relative to the producer’s area, letting them customize a vaccine protocol to meet the goals of a specific operation,” Biggs said. “Ideally, that relationship should not begin with a first meeting at 2 a.m. dealing with an emergency.”

There are several benefits to developing a good client-patient-veterinarian relationship:

  • Enhancing the evaluation of herd health protocols.
  • Improving biosecurity measures in the operation.
  • Strengthening the profitability and sustainability of both the cow-calf operation and local veterinary services.

“A vaccine protocol is not cookbook science,” said Dr. Barry Whitworth, OSU Extension veterinarian and food animal quality and health specialist. “What worked best one year may not be the best option the next. Also, it’s basic human nature that a good existing relationship with your veterinarian may make him or her more likely to assist with an after-hours emergency.”

study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System reported that 14% of calves that died within the first three weeks of life were victims of scours. Given there is a long list of factors that contribute to this ailment, it is often difficult to pinpoint one single intervention that will eliminate the problem.

“Success occurs when opportunity meets with preparation,” said Glenn Selk, OSU Extension emeritus animal scientist and managing editor of the university’s popular Cow-Calf Corner newsletter and weekly SUNUP television program video segment. “Preparing now ahead of next spring’s calving season can help increase the chances of success. The whole point is to get a healthy calf off the ground in the most cost-effective manner possible.”

Detailed information about Oklahoma’s cow-calf industry is available online through OSU Extension fact sheets. Additional best management practices for cow-calf operations is available through all OSU Extension county offices.

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