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Articles from 2001 In March

Fed Prices Set to Slide

The news in the beef business is centered around the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in England and the few cases in the mainland of Europe. But, most economists do not expect the outbreak of this disease in Europe to have much, if any, impact on U.S. cattle prices.

The outbreak of FMD disease in Argentina could have some positive impact on U.S. prices. About 15% of our beef imports in 2000 were from South and Central America. Nearly 55% of the U.S. beef imports are from Australia and New Zealand, say Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain, ag economists at the University of Missouri.

They estimate that an outbreak of FMD in the U.S. would reduce live cattle prices by 15-20% from what they would be otherwise.

"And we still see no signs that beef demand is being influenced negatively by the indicated slow down in the general economy," says Plain. "This winter’s been a boon to cash fed cattle prices, but optimism that these prices will carry over to late spring are fading fast."

Fed Prices Due To Slide

Recent reductions in both slaughter and weight have largely been the result of wintry weather throughout the Plains states. This will result in a significant increase in fed cattle marketings and cattle slaughter over the next several months.

U.S. cattle feeders placed a markedly lower number of cattle on feed and sold fewer animals during late winter, primarily because of harsh winter weather through key areas, says James Mintert, a Kansas State University agricultural economist.

Placements of cattle on feed fell 16% to 1.58 million head in February, compared with February 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s monthly Cattle on Feed report.

Fed cattle marketings in February tumbled 15% to 1.75 million head. Year-to-date federally inspected cattle slaughter has fallen 6.3% below a year ago. And, dressed cattle weights this year have averaged 1.2% lighter than in 2000. As a result, federally inspected beef production through mid-March 2001 fell 7.5% compared to 2000’s.

Longer term, look for slaughter cattle prices to dip into the low $70s in June. And, there’s a chance cash prices could drop below $70 this summer, if cattle weights start to rise above last year’s by late spring or early summer and the weakening U.S. economy leads to weakening beef demand.

Cash prices are expected to recover this fall into the mid to upper $70’s, according to Mintert.

For more information contact Pat Melgares, Kansas State University [email protected].

Bush Hears from Ranchers

Livestock disease prevention is on the mind of nearly every cattle producer in the country. And on March 26, while in Billings, MT, President George W. Bush was reminded that this is one of the critical issues facing the U.S. livestock industry.

The Bush administration must do everything possible to protect U.S. beef producers and consumers from possible international disease risks, the Montana Stockgrowers Association president told Bush in a special meeting held at a farm supply store in Montana’s largest city.

Bill Garrison, a rancher from Glen, MT, told Bush that everything must be done to ensure the continued safety of our domestic beef supply.

"It is critically important, now more than ever, that we be assured that USDA and others are doing everything possible to protect us from recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and BSE," he says. Garrison also says passing a country-of-origin meat labeling law would help to address this issue.

Garrison was one of a handful of farmers and ranchers invited to the private meeting with Bush during his Monday visit to Montana. The groups also addressed other industry concerns; including drought impacts on agriculture, the energy crisis, international trade and the importance of keeping Montana’s number one industry profitable.

"This meeting was the chance of a lifetime to voice our concerns to the leader of the free world," said Garrison.

Bush also says ranchers should feel secure that agriculture will be a part of future trade agreements and that food safety and environmental regulations would be based on sound science. He says he understands that energy costs are driving up the cost of farming and ranching. He noted that he would deal directly with Canada on country-of-origin meat labeling.

Meanwhile, Columbus, MT-based R-CALF-USA (United Stockgrowers of America) has issued a formal request to Bush, calling for his support of an immediate moratorium of all animal, cut products and animal by-products until specific protocol is adopted and implemented by the USDA to update safeguards against global animal disease conveyance.

"R-CALF is concerned about what appears to be a relaxed response by USDA to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in South America. It is unclear to U.S. cattle producers why the U.S. put a ban on animal and animal by-products from the European Union and not South America," wrote Leo McDonnell, R-CALF president, in a letter to Bush.

The president came to Montana to discuss his tax package that is making its way through Congress. Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus is the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, the committee responsible for drafting the nation’s tax laws.

Tips for a Successful Web Search

If you’ve surfed the Web, chances are you’ve gone there searching for specific information. How do you get the most out of your search?

Mike Haddock, an associate professor at Kansas State University’s Hale Library, shared some common-sense tips with BEEF.

Here are some of his suggestions for a successful search:

  • Read the search site directions. Different search engines have different requirements.
  • Identify your concepts and keywords. Choose nouns and objects.
  • Put the main concept first, but utilize several keywords. The more keywords you use, the more focused your search will be.
  • Combine keywords into phrases using quotation marks when possible (i.e. "range management").
  • "And" is one of the most powerful words when searching, Haddock says. But you’ve got to know how to use it. A search for dog and cat will only search for the two words together; dog or cat will look for documents with either of the words.
  • Include synonyms, alternate spellings and scientific names connected with "or" (e.g. "big bluestem" or "Andropogon gerardii").
  • Check your spelling.
  • If you don’t find anything, use different concepts or repeat your search with a different search engine.

Haddock’s favorite search engine? He believes Google is the best search engine on the Web right now. One perk from Google is that it recently added the capability to search for PDF files.

Compiled by Kindra Gordon

McDonald's BSE Deadline To Be Met By Top US Beef Packers

Cattle-Fax Services Now Available at CattleInfoNet

Now users of both CattleInfoNet and Cattle-Fax services can get instant market and operational information through one site. Cattle-Fax members can access the Cattle-Fax Update subscription and the optional Instant Fed and Feeder Market Information Package via the CattleInfoNet site.

For more details, visit or

Source: eMerge Interactive press release

McDonald's Moves To Enforce Mad Cow Standards

How To Make Cattle Vaccines Work

Recently, the number of vaccines marketed for use in cattle production has increased dramatically. With a host of vaccines and vaccine types to chose from, producers are vaccinating cattle more than ever. Without question, this trend will continue as molecular biology and high-tech research into immunology is applied to cattle disease problems.

But, high-tech will never replace common sense in the fight to reduce health problems in cattle herds.

"Vaccine use is based on the severity of the threat to the herd – and on the prospects of reducing effects of the risk factors," says Bill Kvasnicka, University of Nevada – Reno (UNR) Extension veterinarian. "Usually the decision will be to lower the challenge by management and raise the resistance by vaccination."

Passive immunization produces temporary disease resistance. Antibodies are transferred from one animal to another and give immediate protection. This protection wanes, and the recipient eventually is susceptible to re-infection.

The Best Resistance

Vaccines can be divided into two groups "live" and "killed." Living organisms stimulate the best resistance but may present hazards as a result of residual virulence.

"As we know, it’s now very common to see mixtures of organisms in a single vaccine," says Kvasnicka. "They may protect against several diseases with economy of effort. But when different antigens in a mixture are administered, competition occurs between antigens."

Vaccine producers take this into account and modify their mixtures, says Ben Bruce, UNR Extension beef specialist. "However, vaccines should never be mixed casually or haphazardly, since one component may interfere or inactivate the response to the other ingredients."

Successful active vaccination is achieved only after passive resistance has dissipated because the passive antibodies will interfere with the immune response expected from administration of a live or killed vaccine, says Ron Torell, UNR area livestock specialist, who works out of Elko. "It’s impossible to predict the exact time of loss of the maternal resistance."

Thus, it’s usually recommended that young animals be vaccinated at least twice. Some vaccines will need to be given a second time at six to eight months of age to ensure successful immunization.

Killed vaccines produce a weaker immunity and require frequent administration. Most killed vaccines require two injections at three-week intervals and at least a yearly booster.

"Living vaccines usually produce a long-lasting resistance if initial vaccination is given after the maternal resistance is gone," says Kvasnicka. After initial vaccination with a modified live vaccine, boosters may not be needed yearly, he adds.

Poor management, though, can lead to a high level of exposure and a compromised immune system. Failure to properly immunize puts the herd at increased risk.

In general, according to Kvasnicka, vaccines seldom fail; but vaccination programs sometimes fail.

"Vaccines properly used as a management tool can improve the general health of a herd," he says. "Then the level of resistance will protect the animals from disease when the when the herd is exposed to a challenge."

Web Site Offers Animal Health Information

The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory (WSVL) at the University of Wyoming announces that its new Web site "Wyovet" is available to the public. Extension veterinarian Lynn Woodard says Wyovet is designed to meet the needs of animal owners, veterinarians and others interested in animal health, animal disease and food quality.

The site has information regarding submission of samples to the laboratory for examination along with disease information and alerts. A case access feature will allow veterinarians to access their diagnostic cases 24 hours a day via a secure link. This feature is being tested by a few veterinary clinics in the state before it becomes available to all clinics.

A self-study guide for the Wyoming Beef Quality Assurance (WBQA) Program will enable beef producers, veterinarians, and Extension educators to become certified in proper procedures. The WBQA program is designed to prevent any residues and eliminate defects in beef to increase consumer confidence in the product.

Links to other animal health agencies and organizations are included to provide direct access to many questions that producers and the public may have. The site is a cooperative effort of WSVL, UW Cooperative Extension, the Wyoming Livestock Board, the Wyoming Veterinary Medical Association and the Wyoming Beef Council. Funding was provided by WSVL, Cooperative Extension and the Beef Council. Visit the Web site at

*Other beef industry Web sites

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