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Remember your BQA Ps and Qs

Dan Buskirk, Michigan State University BQA-Injection-Site-Diagram -Buskirk-UMI.jpg

By Glenn Selk

There are many things a rancher can count on as spring makes its way across the landscape. Green grass, spring flowers and waving a happy adios to winter are among them.

Beyond that, spring means calving season for many. And calving season means calf working time isn’t far behind.

As the majority of the calves reach their second month of life, it is time to castrate the male calves if this has not already been done and immunize all of the calves to protect them against blackleg. In some situations, calves may be vaccinated for the respiratory diseases such as IBR and BVD. Check with your large animal veterinarian about these immunizations.

That’s where your BQA training comes into play. Correct administration of any injection is a critical control point in beef production and animal health.

READ: Giving injections? Do it right

There is a negative relationship between meat tenderness and injection sites, including injection sites that have no visible lesion. In fact, intramuscular (IM) injections, regardless of the product injected, may create permanent damage regardless of the age of the animal at the time of injection. Tenderness is reduced in a three-inch area surrounding the injection site. 

Moving the injection-site area to the neck stops damage to expensive steak cuts. Therefore, cow-calf producers should make certain that family members and hired labor are sufficiently trained as to the proper location of the injections before the spring calf-working begins. 

Give injections according to label instructions. Subcutaneous (SQ) means under the skin, intramuscular (IM) means in the muscle. Some vaccines (according to the label instructions) allow the choice between intramuscular (IM) and subcutaneous (SQ). 

Always use subcutaneous (SQ) as the method of administration when permitted by the product’s label.  Remember to “tent” the skin for SQ injections unless instructed otherwise by the manufacturer. Proper injection technique is just one of many components of the Beef Quality Assurance effort that has had a positive impact on the entire United States beef industry.

Another important aspect of the Beef Quality Assurance effort is keeping of accurate treatment records.  Treatment records should include:

  • Individual animal/group identification
  • Date treated
  • Product administered and manufacturer’s lot/serial number
  • Dosage used
  • Route and location of administration
  • Earliest date animal(s) will have cleared withdrawal period
  • Name of person administering the product

Treatment records for cattle should be stored and kept for a minimum of three years after the animal(s) have been sold from your operation. 

Beef Roundtable: BQA-Moving the industry forward

Beef producers are encouraged to learn and practice Beef Quality Assurance guidelines. You can learn more about the Beef Quality Assurance program by going to the website. The Beef Quality Assurance Manual can be downloaded from that site. Examples of treatment records to be kept and stored are available from the Beef Quality Assurance Manual in Section VIII.


Selk is Oklahoma State University emeritus Extension animal scientist

Meat Market Update | Price declines are normal for the week

The weekly average Choice cutout drops down over 2 dollars following the previous week’s big daily Choice cutout declines which is normal because some of the formula sales are priced off of the previous week’s daily spot cash sales.  However another big item was a big drop in sales volume also for the week.  The Choice cutout normally goes thru a small decline this time of the year but then turns around and jumps quite a bit higher as we get deeper into the grilling season and approach the Memorial Day sales period.


Two ag-inspired TV shows worth watching

The American Farm The American Farm

As winter storm Wesley rages on throughout the Midwest, many producers may be looking for a reprieve from the elements. When you’re not outside feeding hay or checking for newborn calves in the snow and mud, settle into your recliner and check out these television shows inspired by life in agriculture.

First is “The American Farm,” a new docuseries airing on the HISTORY channel.

The first episode was released April 4. “The American Farm” is described as “an authentic portrait of the fight to go from seed to stalk and from farm to fork. The HISTORY series presents an up-close look at one full year of family farming, told through an unprecedented year on the ground, capturing breathtaking visuals, private moments and personal interviews.”

Shot on location around the country, the docuseries introduces us to several farm and ranch families.

Viewers will meet the Boyd family in Virginia, who are struggling to transition their successful farming business to their children.

You’ll also meet the Griggs family, fifth generation row crop farmers who work together as a team to get the job done.

Travel to the Alaskan tundra to meet the Meyers family. Living in isolation (400 miles from the nearest road) has its drawbacks, but this farming family has launched a booming business in the middle of nowhere.

Next up is the Robertson family, who run dairy, crop and creamery businesses on their family farm. Here you’ll meet three hard-headed brothers who love to add humor to their days as they work.

Head on over to Utah to meet the Sutherland family, who are dealing with the challenges of an ongoing drought.

You can learn more about the show by clicking here.

If “The American Farm” strikes your fancy, you may also like “The Cowboy Way: Alabama.”

Not to be mistaken for the 1994 classic movie, “The Cowboy Way,” starring Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland, “The Cowboy Way: Alabama” is a reality show on Amazon Prime that showcases three modern-day Alabama cowboys who are facing the everyday struggles of ranching.

Starring Booger Brown, Cody Harris and Bubba Thompson, the show is in its fifth season. Viewers will watch as these young cattlemen herd cattle, break horses, till fields and work together with their families.

Described as “the Old West meets the Deep South,” the show introduces the audience to the cowboy code of ethics where ranchers “work hard, play hard and depend on each other.”

Watch the show on Amazon by clicking here.

As you hunker down to weather through winter storm Wesley, now may be a good time to watch an episode or two with the family. Check out these shows and let me know what you think. I haven’t personally watched yet to vouch for either, but I figure any show that is inspired by production agriculture is definitely worth checking out.

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

Beware the rural outrage cycle

Juanmonino/Getty Images woman arguing GettyImages-935008170.jpg

Editor’s note—Occasionally I run across an editorial, now-a-days called a blog, that does an excellent job describing an issue or situation that needs to be addressed. Such is the case here.

Many BEEF readers are leaders in their communities, serving as 4-H or FFA leaders, on the school board, as county commissioners and other volunteer tasks. As those who put their feet forward to volunteer know all to well, it sometimes isn’t a pleasant experience.

This guest blog addresses that head on.


“Dozens of people confronted the school board tonight…”

It’s the kind of 10 o’clock news lead-off that makes any rural school board member cringe. Anytime. Anywhere. Because they’ve likely been there, done that, been chewed out. Didn’t get the t-shirt. Maybe gave up on the school board.

The county fair board member could tell the same story. I watched a couple years ago as a belligerent parent cussed out a fair board member because he didn’t like the rules for the rabbit scramble. Red-faced and angry, as if somebody was taking away his actual rights as a living human being, not just telling him he couldn’t go out on the race track with his kid.

That’s what we’d call a disproportionate response at our house. Or as my kids would say, “You’re at a 10. I’m gonna need you to bring it down to a 2.”

Today, the mere mention of school consolidations, tax assessments, beer tents or – oh, my word - the Pledge of Allegiance can cause people to lose their ever-living minds. Outrage is always at hand. Never mind the facts.

READ: 4 Life lessons from the county fair 

Some years ago, our community went through a contentious consolidation vote (that’s redundant, I know). I was talking one day with a man whose kids were in high school, who was a vocal opponent of the consolidation. Mine were still young so I asked him about the top math and science courses offered at the high school. He had no idea. Still, opposed.

That conversation stuck with me. When we can’t gather basic facts of a situation, or when we can’t consider all the facts of the situation, we can’t make an informed decision. We can’t have an intelligent conversation with our elected officials – like, say, a school board member – when we don’t take time to understand school policy. Sometimes, that policy dictates that a board cannot talk about a particular issue beyond the administration – like faculty, for example. But too many people sit in a school board meeting and assume if it’s not said to them, it’s not said at all.

Outrage cycle

Or people don’t understand how it all works. Like when someone decides not to participate in the floral hall because the fair board sold the building. Hint: your boycott doesn’t affect ownership. It just kills the fair.

And now, of course, we can take all this to social media where the outrage cycle rewards a hot take or a spicy comment. Where everyone can get whipped into a frenzy, at least until the next outrage comes along.

And where people think they can say whatever they want without consequence, so long as they tack on “just my opinion” or my personal least-favorite, “just saying.” Just don’t.

READ: On industry division and export growth

It’s lack of respect that drives those kinds of comments. Every year, I read through lists of organizations and boards that our Master Farmers serve on. The work they’ve done. The committees they’ve served on. The hours represented. These boards are quite literally the only way anything gets done in our rural communities.

I wonder how it feels to them, to have a loud, belligerent, uninformed yet highly opinionated community member confronting them about the latest outrage. Used to, you got talked about around town. Maybe you got an angry phone call. The modern version lets you be vilified on social media, where anyone can jump in and it can fly around the world in seconds, and your kids and grandkids can read it.

We need to respect authority, leadership and experience – and unpaid volunteers who take time away from their families to serve the community.

The buck stops

We need to think about responsibility. Like when a community member stirs up outrage at the school over kids who can’t get into the building early on a cold day. But who was responsible for dropping those kids off too early in the cold?

We place our trust in institutions but at the end of the day, I am responsible for my people. The end.

READ: 7 traits of a strong beef industry leader

Our rural communities are being stymied by a lack of fact gathering, the outrage cycle, and a general lack of respect for authority. The very real outcome of all of this is that people will quit volunteering. The cons of serving the community will eventually outweigh the pros. Look no further than the field of education; teachers are quitting already.

Friends, we don’t have time for this. Rural communities can’t afford to traffic in outrage. We’ve got too many real problems to deal with.

Spangler is editor of Prairie Farmer.

Farm Progress America, April 10, 2019

Max Armstrong shares a story from Kevin Van Trump about a farmer in Southeast England that runs Winterdale Cheese Farm. The farm is more than 500 years old, but the operation has come a long way since a diversification decision in 2006. Their approach – being carbon neutral.

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: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Fed Cattle Recap | Will a weather market please stand up?


And the beat(ing) goes on. Another major storm is forecast to whack a wide swath of country later this week, with the Northern Plains and Midwest the main target.

However, the storm will have a much wider effect, with rain, snow and colder weather forecast for the central and northern mountains and the central Plains, among other areas.

The storm will certainly affect feedyards and ranchers already weary and reeling from one of the toughest winters on record. Will it affect the market? Nobody knows, but packers have the leverage and a full weather market has yet to show itself.

Now looking at the fed cattle market for the week ending April 6, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 231,955 head, compared with about 221,350 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 69,406 head, compared with about 75,703 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 51,000 head for the week. Packers have 305,000 head lined up for April, which is 75,000 head higher than last year.

The National cash sales this week included 15,855 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and about 19,700 head the previous week.     

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending April 6 was $125.30 per cwt, compared with $126.34 the previous week, which was $1.04 lower for the week.  

April 6 price graph.png

The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $204.41 per cwt, compared with $205.60 the previous week, which was $ 1.19 lower. 

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $204.90 per cwt, compared with $205.32 the previous week, making it 42 cents lower.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 621,000 head and that compares with 615,000 head the same week last year. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending March 23 was 866 pounds, 1 pound higher than the previous week and 12 pounds below the 878 pounds the same week last year. 

The Choice-Select spread was $6.65 on Friday, compared with $7.15 the previous week and an $8.71 spread last year.  



Midwest braces itself for winter storm Wesley


Monday, we enjoyed some beautiful spring weather in South Dakota. With sunny skies, we had the entire family outside to play and catch up on some yard work. For the first time in months, no coats were required. It was amazing!

Tuesday, as I type this, the skies are gray, the air is getting crisp and the first droplets of rain are beginning to fall from the sky.

And in the next couple of days, we are expected to receive anywhere from 18-24 inches of snow. The thought of that much moisture piling up on top of the mud we have accumulated from a long and wet winter makes me physically ill.

As I write this, I have a pit in my stomach. This is all too familiar to the Xanto blizzard from 2018. When I start to think about how we can keep our spring-born calves safe and sound, it’s hard not to feel stressed out and nervous about what’s to come.

The average age of the American rancher today is 58 years old and climbing. Many were hit hard last year with a horrible, long-lasting winter. Let's face it, trudging through the snow and mud as you near retirement age is tough. And if these folks weathered through the heartache and economic losses brought on my a difficult 2018, getting hit again with a similar situation one year later could be the final nail on the coffin for these cow-calf operations.

They’re calling the upcoming blizzard "winter storm Wesley," and from the weather reports, it’s going to be a big one.

The outlook is grim, and I think it’s important to reiterate two things here.

First, no calf is worth the loss of human life. If the situation is dangerous, stay inside. As hard as it is, let it go. Your safety comes first, so don’t get yourself killed trying to be a hero in the upcoming storm. Do what you can to prepare. Use common sense. And then give it up to God.

Second, producers are currently facing challenging economic times. The financial stress combined with pressures to keep the family business afloat while also navigating through the devastating impacts of floods, blizzards and other devastating weather like wildfires can create an overwhelming situation that leaves ranching families feeling hopeless, depressed and plagued with anxiety.

If you are experiencing any of these feelings, please reach out and get help.

Heather Gessner, South Dakota State University Extension livestock business management field specialist shares this information on her Facebook page, “When we have a calf death loss problem, we go to the experts at the Animal Diagnostic Lab. When we have a problem with corn yields, we go to the soil fertility experts at the Co-op.

"What about when you feel like the world is crashing down around you, and there is no way out? Pick up the phone. The experts at the Avera Farmers Stress Hotline are ready to listen 800-691-4336. Assistance can be found by talking to the experts at FarmAid 800-FARM-AID. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, there are experts trained to help at 800-273-TALK. Please, get the help you need.”

As we prepare for a bomb cyclone round two, BEEF wants to keep current on what is happening with our readers across the country. Please send testimonies and photographs to me at [email protected], and we’ll update a gallery of images on our website. These images can help other news outlets report on the situation as it unfolds with greater immediacy and accuracy.

This is important because, despite producers being an independent lot not looking for handouts, reporting on these weather events will expedite response times for volunteers, hay donations, emergency assistance, disaster relief and other things that may be needed for these communities following the storm.

For examples of previously compiled photo galleries of this nature, view:

I’m hoping the meteorologists get this one wrong and the blizzard doesn’t come to fruition. My prayers are with ranchers as they prepare for this pending historical blizzard.

Please, stay safe as the storm blows in, and remember, even if it feels like it at the time, you’re not battling through this alone. The BEEF community supports you and lifts you up during these challenging times.

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

MORNING Midwest Digest, April 9, 2019

A spring snow storm is headed for the Upper Midwest, and locations in South Dakota and Minnesota could see two feet of snow. Blizzard conditions are possible, too.

Watching social media and comments from frustrated farmers who can't be in the field yet, you'd think planting was behind. But, it's really right on schedule according to the weekly crop progress report.

As temps warm, more motorcycles are on the road. In a Michigan town a rider was struck by a wild turkey and died after hitting the guard rail.

Warmer weather is also corresponding with a spike in gun violence. Indianapolis had its deadliest weekend in 25 years.

Large-animal veterinary suicide risk exaggerated

Vonschonertagen/GettyImages Stressed veterinarian
Although a recent study showed high stress among veterinarians, other data show it's not necessarily true for large-animal vets.

A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association recently listed the risk of suicide among veterinarians considerably higher than for the general U.S. population.

Specifically, it reported female veterinarians were 3.5 times as likely, and male veterinarians were 2.1 times as likely, to die from suicide as the general population. For perspective, a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said  45,000 Americans, ages 10 or older, died by suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and is on the rise. 

However, another survey from 2018 shows this is not the case for large-animal veterinarians. The Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study, released late last year, showed stress and/or mental illness among these veterinarians is similar to, but slightly lower than that found in the general population.

However, the Merck study showed stress was higher in younger members of the profession, particularly with regard to debt levels.

The Merck study used the Kessler 6 (K6) scale, a six-question survey which is called a quantifier of "non-specific psychological distress." Distress is symptomatic of risk for suicide.

Researchers added that overall wellbeing of large-animal veterinarians is slightly lower than in the general population, and that about half of those who are feeling stress are not receiving treatment.

In summary, the Merck study concluded veterinary medicine is not in a state of crisis. About one in 20 veterinarians is suffering serious psychological distress.

Employer recommendations to help lower stress

The mental health professionals involved in the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study recommended four actions for veterinary employers.

  1. Educate employees on the existence of mental health issues and provide time off for appointments with physicians and counselors.
  2. Outwardly discuss and set healthy practice expectations for work/life balance.
  3. Create mentoring programs for new employees to help them gain the skills and confidence need to perform satisfactorily in their career.
  4. Consider partnering with in-practice veterinary social work professionals

Personal recommendations to lower stress

The mental health professionals involved in the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study recommended three actions for veterinarians.

  1. With the help of a mental health professional or coach develop a stress management plan.
  2. Retain a certified financial planner to develop a plan to manage finances and student debt.

Farm Progress America, April 9, 2019

Max Armstrong offers a look at a Forbes story about a millennial dairy farmer that offered a look at the business and how this young farmer works. The open look at the business offers consumers another key message – the importance of sustainability to the farm and to agriculture.

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: SW_Photo/iStock/Getty Images Plus