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Articles from 2012 In April

Celebrate May Beef Month With Roper Apparel

Celebrate May Beef Month With Roper Apparel

May is finally here, which means producers are in the midst of spring planting and getting the pairs and fences ready for summer grazing. May also means Beef Month, and we are celebrating on the blog with a recipe contest featuring beef. Each week, a winning recipe will be selected, and the champion chef will take home a $125 gift certificate for a pair of boots, courtesy of Roper Apparel.

This week, we kick things off with recipes featuring ground beef. In light of the controversy and media frenzy surrounding lean finely textured beef and BSE, let’s show consumers just how healthy, safe and versatile ground beef really is!

To enter, simply email me a recipe with corresponding photo of the dish to [email protected]

Entries will be accepted until Saturday, May 12, with winners to be announced on May 14. A new theme of the week will also be announced each Monday in May.

So, fire up the grill, slap on your apron and get creative in the kitchen. Bonus points for ideas that center around May holidays such as Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day!

I can’t wait to see what you all come up with! Good luck!

In the meantime, check out this old post featuring meatballs!

Shop for boots, clothes and accessories at our sponsor site, Roper Apparel! If you won the $125 boot gift certificate, which pair would you choose?

A Good Day For Agriculture

April 26 was a great day for South Dakota farmers and ranchers as two key events occurred in Washington, D.C., that will help our agriculture community breathe a little easier.

After months of work with my colleagues on the Senate Agriculture Committee, the committee passed its version of the 2012 Farm Bill.

This farm bill achieved many of my goals as it saves more than $23 billion; eliminates the Direct and Counter-cyclical Payment (DCP) Program, Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program, and Supplemental Revenue Assistance (SURE) Program; includes a strong Conservation Title; reauthorizes the permanent livestock disaster programs I was able to include in the 2008 Farm Bill; and, most importantly, it not only preserves but strengthens crop insurance.

The Aggregate Revenue and Risk Management (ARRM) Program I introduced in a bill last year was used as the framework for the Commodity Title of the Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill, and provided a savings of more than $20 billion.

The 2012 Farm Bill includes a provision I authored that will reduce crop insurance benefits for native sod converted to crop production and also eliminates policies that have encouraged the misuse of crop insurance. Inclusion of my provision, offered as an amendment, added an additional $200 million in savings for the farm bill.

To see the full article, click here.

South Korean Officials Asked To Address Public Concern Over U.S. Beef

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak directed officials to handle policies with the "safety and health of the people in mind" as his government is under pressure to halt American beef imports following a recent BSE case in the U.S.

Lee made the remarks during a weekly meeting with senior secretaries after his economic secretary reported that the government was taking steps to dispel public concern about the safety of U.S. beef while placing its top priority on the health of the people.

"The government should manage policies with consumer prices, jobs, and the safety and health of the people in mind," said Lee.

Lee, however, made no direct mention of U.S. beef.

His remarks came after South Korea's ruling party chief Park Geun-hye urged the government to halt quarantine inspections of American beef until it was confirmed safe for consumption. Quarantine inspections are a key requirement for U.S. beef shipments for getting customs clearance. Halting the process would therefore have the same effect as suspending imports because shipments would not be cleared to reach the local market even if they arrive at the country's ports, according to South Korea's state-run media.

To see the full article, click here.

Preparing For Heat Stress In Cattle

Summer heat waves pose a serious danger to cattle. It’s not only the death loss, but also the loss in performance and the potential for poorer reproductive performance of bulls and breeding females caused by heat stress that cause economic harm to beef producers. Taking some steps now to plan ahead will put producers in a better position to deal with heat waves when and if they occur.

The amount of stress that cattle are under is affected by both the air temperature and the relative humidity. The combination of high temperatures and high relative humidity is particularly dangerous, especially when there is little to no nighttime cooling.

Producers can use this information, plus livestock heat advisory alerts, to prepare for forecasted heat waves. Planning ahead is critically important as it’s too late to prevent problems after cattle are already under heat stress.

While heat-related losses can affect any class of cattle, in general, cattle in confinement are at greater risk. There is typically greater air movement in a pasture, and in some cases greater opportunities for cattle to seek shade or ponds to cool off. Also, cattle fed on concrete or on a dark soil surface will have a greater exposure to radiant heat compared to cattle on grass.

Water access is vitally important to maintain the well-being of cattle during hot weather.  Water consumption may be 20 gals./head at 90°F., twice as high compared to 70°F., and 50% greater than at 80°F. The capacity of your water system is also important.  Some experts recommend having enough reserve capacity to provide half the animals’ daily needs in one hour, or to have three linear inches of trough access per head. In some cases, producers might need to bring in extra tanks.

To see the full article, click here.

What Is Good Grazing Management?

What Is Good Grazing Management?

In the April issue, I described four ecosystem functions: water cycle, mineral cycle, energy flow and biological succession.  Our grazing management can have a profound effect on these functions, with the results either improving or diminishing the land’s health and productivity.

None of us want to harm the land we manage; however, too often, we manage without understanding the consequences of our decisions. It’s commonly believed that stocking rate can cure all grazing problems, and while it is important, there are other considerations that are more important. After all, when stocking rate is reduced (even significantly) in season-long grazing, overgrazing and over-resting will occur side by side in the same pasture.

In grazing management, I first think about “time and timing.” Time deals with how long the livestock stay in a pasture and, more importantly, how long the pasture will rest or recover before the livestock return. Timing addresses when (at what time in relationship to plant growth and recovery) you will be in a pasture.

In my long career, I’ve worked with irrigated pastures and sub-irrigated meadows, ranges receiving 12-20 in. of annual precipitation, and ranges receiving 7-11 in. of rainfall. Using the same principles and understanding of ecology and plant growth, the elements of time and timing are applied very differently in each of these circumstances.

After nearly 30 years of practicing planned, time-controlled grazing, I’ve learned we never do it perfectly; however, grazing and land health (ecosystem functions) are much better when we manage our grazing with time control. Ideal time control would not allow the same plant to be bitten twice in the same graze period. It would also allow adequate recovery of plants before the pasture is grazed again.

Since “ideal” is usually impossible, I much prefer to ensure adequate recovery of the entire pasture before returning, to protect plants from a second bite in the same graze period.

Most of the good grazing managers I know developed their system of pastures or paddocks somewhat slowly over time. In most situations, 10 or more paddocks/herd are needed to keep plants from being bitten a second time in the graze period, while still allowing enough time out of the paddock for good recovery. However, 20 or more paddocks/herd are even better. You don’t have to do this all at once.

Recovery time

Adequate recovery time can be debated. However, I find that more recovery time is needed than I originally thought, especially in low or moderate and erratic rainfall areas. In most rangeland areas, 80% or more of the feed is grown in 60 days or less. This means that grazing must be very carefully managed during those 60 days, though this doesn’t imply that care isn’t needed the rest of the year as well. And, the feed produced in those 60 days needs to be budgeted over the rest of the year.

In low-rainfall areas, I’ve been using more than a year recovery. In typical years, a year’s recovery might be enough. However, I don’t want to graze at the same time in the following year. In areas of moderate rainfall and a mix of warm- and cool-season grasses, I might take a very quick grazeout of each paddock early in the growing season – not taking nearly all that is produced.

However, cattle almost seem to prefer annual grasses and forbs (weeds) at this time of year, and it can almost be free feed. I would then follow with either one or two times in each paddock until next year’s green-up. On irrigated pastures, my tendency is to be quite intensive and leave a good residual for photosynthesis to continue, then return before seed set or bloom.

Since livestock need to be somewhere 365 days of the year – and I prefer to have them grazing – livestock will be grazing some plants in their very early growth stage when they are very vulnerable. Therefore, I want to change timing during the growing season.

I don’t want to graze the pasture at the same plant growth stage in successive years. In fact, I’d like several years to pass before using the pasture at the same time again.

Stock density, not to be confused with stocking rate, is another powerful tool that can be used to improve distribution of animals, dung and urine. As stock density increases, grazing becomes more uniform. Meanwhile, the delivery and placement of supplements in the pasture can also create a herd or trampling effect. This can “wake up” ground by the trampling of old, dead and ungrazed plant material into the soil, thus improving the water and mineral cycle and allowing new and existing plants to flourish.

It’s good to wear your nutritionist hat when deciding how much supplement to take to the pasture. But, once in the pasture, wear the range manager hat and decide where the supplement can be placed for the most good for the range. If livestock are going to follow you excitedly, make good use of the trampling effect.

Time control and stock density require herding or fencing. Most will elect to fence. Simple electric fencing will work very well in most situations. However, before any fencing is done, a complete ranch plan should be made with provisions for adequate stock water and future paddock divisions.

In my experience, stock water amount and placement has been inadequate for good grazing. Be prepared to develop stock water before fencing; and, remember, it is much better to overdesign and have too much water, than to have too little. You need to anticipate an increase in stocking rate as your grazing practices improve.

I could talk of other range management tools such as fire, chemical treatments of weeds and brush, mechanical methods of brush reduction or new seedings, etc. However, I’ve focused on time control and stock density because they’re inextricably linked and must be continually managed.

You can’t work on one of these powerful tools without the other. By properly using these two tools, along with some trampling or herd effect, you can reduce, or even stop, overgrazing and over-resting of plants. You can improve each of the ecological functions and the productivity of your land. In all of my years of ranching, this has been the most exciting and rewarding factor.

Two points to close on:

• In almost all situations of which I’m aware, you can add considerably more carrying capacity with fence, water development and good grazing than by spending the same amount of money for more ground. In many cases, the water development will pay without the fencing. However, the fencing allows the benefits of time control in all of its dimensions along with the many benefits of stock density.

• There are very good short-courses that teach good grazing far more effectively than I can in a few short articles. Don’t try to teach yourself. Often, those who try to improve grazing management without good training fall into the trap of a fixed-time rotation – staying the same number of days in each pasture or paddock and having the same recovery period regardless of the time of year or weather differences. In too many cases, this results in controlled overgrazing. Find a good grazing practitioner, watch, listen carefully and learn. Or, go to a good grazing school. Better yet, do both.

Burke Teichert, consultant on strategic planning for ranches, is retired as vice president and general manager of Deseret. He can be reached at [email protected]

Farm Boy Spring Calving Photography Champions

Farm Boy Spring Calving Photography Champions

As April comes to a close, it’s also time to announce the winners in the 2012 Spring Calving Photography Contest, sponsored by Farm Boy and Farm Girl Authentic Brand. With more than 140 entries and close to 200 votes, you have narrowed down the photographs and selected our champions!

Congratulations to our grand champion photographer, Elizabeth Seamands, with her entry, “Braunvieh Baby.”

Cheers to our reserve champion photograph, “Licks of Love,” submitted by Kyley and Brenna DeVoe.

Our champion photographers will take home a gift card to shop, courtesy of Farm Boy! As promised, three of our voters were selected to take home a Farm Boy cap, as well. Our lucky winners are Summer Sowers, Keith Sternes and Larry Renfroe.

Thanks again to all who participated. Click here to view the complete photo gallery of reader entries.

How’s calving going at your ranch?

By the way, tomorrow kicks off May Beef Month, and with that, we are gearing up for a brand new contest! This time, we will be judging your beef recipes. This week’s theme is ground beef, so slap on your apron and get cooking! Check back tomorrow for complete contest details.

Mizzou Collegiate CattleWomen Announces Third Annual Meet Your Meat

Mizzou Collegiate CattleWomen is pleased to announce the third annual Meet Your Meat, a program focused on promoting the beef industry to University of Missouri (MU) students. Meet Your Meat will provide beef industry educational resources to the Columbia community on May 2. Many people want to know where their food comes from, so this is an excellent opportunity to talk to beef producers firsthand.

Collegiate CattleWomen will have Meet Your Meat from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on May 2. A live cow will be located in Lowry Mall on the MU campus. The group will also be selling ribeye steak sandwiches to raise money for their organization.  For more information, call 816-465-0709, or check out Mizzou Collegiate CattleWomen’s Facebook page.

“Farm families have known the joys of raising cattle, but people across the nation are moving farther from the family farm and want to know how their food is raised and would like to meet the people putting food on their plates,” says Kielly Jewell, Mizzou Collegiate CattleWomen president. “There is nothing as gratifying as the ability to participate in the production of food.”

Throughout the day, Collegiate CattleWomen members will be available to answer questions about farming, beef production practices, nutrition and more.  There will also be educational materials on hand including beef recipes, nutrition facts, and pamphlets that explain the pasture to plate process.  

“Cattle owners know they are providing a wholesome, safe product to the nation’s food supply,” says Jewell. “Meet Your Meat is designed to show people how farmers truly care for their livestock.  American farmers have a great passion and love for the cattle industry. It is not just a job; it is a passion and way of life.”

National Grange Lauds Federal Communications Commission's Launch of "Connect America Fund"

The National Grange commends the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision to launch its "Connect America Fund" (CAF), a $300-million reserve that will be used to expand broadband Internet to over 400,000 unserved homes and businesses in rural areas.
National Grange President Edward Luttrell praises the FCC for taking this step. "This is a landmark victory for rural America. Finally, rural residents will enjoy the same advantages and opportunities as their urban counterparts and be able to compete in today's global economy. Rural America has so much to offer, and now with high-speed Internet, we'll be able to market and deliver those vital resources that keep our nation running."
The CAF comes as a result of the FCC's recent decision to restructure the outdated Universal Service Fund and use its funds for the benefit of broadband expansion, rather than landline telephone service. This is only the first phase of funding from the CAF, and carriers have 90 days to accept the funding and begin work on these extensive build-out requirements.
Private carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon, are anticipated to supplement the CAF funding with their own private capital. The USF's High Cost Loop Support, or HCLS, will assist smaller rural carriers to expand broadband in their areas. HCLS provides nearly $800 million/year to small providers in an effort to offset high operating costs associated with broadband build-out. Thanks to the new reforms, approximately 500 carriers serving 2 million homes and businesses will receive more funding for broadband expansion.

Beef Cattle Economics Webinar Is May 1

Glynn Tonsor, Kansas State University (KSU) livestock economist, will offer a broad economic outlook for cow-calf, stocker and feedlot operators during the May 1 Beef Cattle Economics webinar. The webinar is presented by KSU and in part by BEEF magazine.

Tonsor will also offer insights on current beef demand and the economic impact of the public backlash to lean finely textured beef. As well, he will address the status of cattle identification in the U.S. and how it compares globally.

The hour-long webinar will begin at 1:30 p.m. CST and will include time for questions. Cost is $25. You can find more information and registration here.