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Liver sampling is best for some mineral deficiencies

Dr. Jeffery Hall once received an odd package at the diagnostic lab he manages at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. It was 10 paired samples of blood and liver biopsies.

Dr. Hall called the veterinarian to tell him there was no need to run both the blood serum samples and the liver samples.

The vet told him he actually did need both so he could prove the worth of liver sampling/biopsy to his client. In fact, that is what happened: Dr. Hall says all 10 liver biopsies showed severe copper deficiency, but only one of the blood serum samples showed copper deficiency. He adds this is typical of the relationship for copper deficiency with blood serum versus liver sampling.

Dr. Hall, head of the toxicology lab for the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, talks regularly to producer groups about mineral deficiencies and the importance of liver samples and biopsies to check for copper deficiency in particular. He says copper deficiencies can be found in 60-70% of all beef cattle tested.

He explains many veterinarians seem to have trouble convincing clients they need to take liver biopsies to get an accurate reading on copper deficiency. They may see the process as very invasive and possibly expensive.

Further, Dr. Hall says, it may be difficult to convince producers just how much return on investment there can be from correcting the most common mineral deficiencies, but it's significant.

As for the issue of liver biopsies, when properly done they have little or no effect on the cattle. Dr. Hall is featured in this video explaining exactly how to perform a liver biopsy, for those who do not know.

Dr. Hall also tells the story of doing biopsies on Utah State University’s high-production dairy herd. In performing a study on manganese supplementation he asked to perform four biopsies over a 120 days on 45 animals each time. The herd manager was highly resistant, fearing the cattle would lose milk production. He told the manager if there was any loss in production, the lab would reimburse the losses.

"A high-producing dairy cow will drop production if you sneeze at her or look at her cross-eyed," Dr. Hall says.

At the end of the study, the dairy manager said he had lost some production on two days. Dr. Hall told him to put it in a graph that included dates, and then he would show the manager the dates of the liver biopsies. The two drops the manager had seen did not correspond to the liver biopsies, and in fact one of the drops was three days before one was performed. Furthermore, the top lactation day of the 120 day study was one of the days when liver biopsy samples were collected.

6 estate planning myths; PLUS: 9 things to discuss with an attorney

Amanda Radke Legacy

Earlier this spring, I had the opportunity to speak in a webinar alongside Carolyn Thompson, attorney and owner of Thompson Law, P.C., who specializes in estate and business planning services.

During the webinar, I shared stories of estate planning gone wrong, familial relationships turned sour and problems that have crept up in my own ranching family and those of people I know due to mistakes made in the transition planning process.

Thompson, in turn, shared her legal advice and considerations for how the outcomes could have changed in these scenarios, had different decisions been made along the way.

READ: Hope is not a plan & other words on estate planning

As a producer with three young children myself, I soaked in her wisdom, keen to not repeat mistakes of the past and determined to create a positive outcome and a strong legacy for my children once I’m gone.

Following our presentation, Thompson shared with me a pamphlet she gives to her clients. In it, she shares succession planning success stories, as well as common reasons that people avoid getting started in securing their legacies.

She warns clients not to bet the farm and to avoid these six common myths in the estate planning landscape, including:

1. I have time to do this later…there’s always tomorrow.
2. My business is my business…it will stay private.
3. I don’t have enough assets to do estate planning.
4. My spouse can handle everything when I’m gone.
5. Our family is so close. Nothing can come between us.
6. I can’t afford to put an estate plan in place.

If you and your family have already gone through the estate planning process, she urges producers to go through a confidence checklist to determine how solid your plan really is. Her checklist includes these nine items:

1. I have an up-to-date, written emergency operation plan; one that is signed, easily accessible, and delegates who the board of directors, head of operation, or other key personnel will be to step up and take responsibility, in the event of my inability to operate the business.”
2. I have adequate overhead insurance to cover additional expenses if I am not working due to incapacity or other reasons.
3. I have up-to-date, effective Power of Attorney documents appointing the right person to handle my health and financial affairs should I become incapacitated.
4. I have coordinated my personal estate planning with my business succession planning.
5. I have adequate personal disability income insurance (or I have assets or other income to support day-to-day expenses) to ensure that my family’s needs and the additional expense do not put a stranglehold on the business.
6. I have appointed a communications director and have a written plan or “fire drill” in place, in the event of my inability to operate the business, one that I review and revise accordingly.
7. I have adequate long-term care insurance should I need to enter a nursing home or should I require at-home care providers (or I have assets or other income to support such expenses).
8. I have an up-to-date buy-sell agreement in place, one that is adequately funded with either life insurance, company assets, or built-in financing via installment payment options.
9. My family and employees understand our core values and can fulfill them in my absence.

“Just like they say, the best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, [and] the best time to get a solid foundation for your business and family is now, before a crisis becomes a reality,” says Thompson. “Having the right documents in place and reviewing them annually will build your confidence and better enable a successful transition, whether short-term, long-term or permanently.”

Your legacy matters. Your children and grandchildren matter. Your values and beliefs matter. Your lifetime of hard work matters, too. Make it all count by having your affairs in order. It’s not always fun to think about death, finances and the potential emotional fallout of the family, but if your plan isn’t secure, you’re leaving it up to fate, instead of your decision-making, to determine the outcome of your family, your farm and your legacy.

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

What’s the most disruptive influence in the cattle market?

U.S. Drought Monitor

This is beginning to be far too much of a news story. But then again, the definition of “news” is something unusual or out of the ordinary. And the frequency and intensity of drought, particularly in the Southern Plains, has become so common that it may not qualify as news any longer.

But then again, anything that impacts the cattle market is most certainly news. And without a doubt, the return of severe drought to cattle country has and most likely will continue to impact cattle prices.

LISTEN: Drought pushes more cattle to auction barns

According to Rabobank’s second quarter global beef report, weather continues to be the single most disruptive influence in the U.S. beef complex. Extreme and exceptional drought conditions, starting last summer across the major winter wheat grazing regions, forced early placements of calves into grow yards and feedyards, according to the report. What’s more, as last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor shows, things aren’t getting any better

“The forced placements have substantially increased cattle on feed numbers, as well as creating the risk of bunched marketings of fed cattle this summer,” according to the report.

There are a lot of tentacles to all this, far too many to swing a sword at in a short blog. Let’s look first at cattle on feed.

Last Friday’s Cattle on Feed report shook the market with its estimate of 11.5 million head on feed as of May 1. The estimate is 5% above last year and is the second highest May 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. Clearly, drought-forced liquidation is one of the factors in that high on-feed number.

The COF report also indicates that net placements during April were 1.63 million, 8% below 2017. Here’s the breakdown by weight: Less than 600 pounds, 320,000 head; 600-699 pounds, 230,000; 700-799 pounds, 415,000; 800-899 pounds, 445,000; 900-999 pounds, 205,000; and 1,000 pounds and greater, 80,000.

Given the number of cattle already on feed combined with the number of heavyweight feeder cattle placed in April gives genuine concern about how we’ll navigate the summer doldrums once it hits. However, in my many years of association with cattle feeding, I’ve seen any number of situations where the bears were worried about a wall of cattle hitting all at once and crashing the market. Never, as best I can recall, have those predictions come fully to fruition.

READ: Fire and Ice: Surviving the effects of a natural disaster

I’m not an economist nor am I a very accomplished market analyst, but based on history, I suspect we’ll work our way through this situation as well. That doesn’t mean we won’t see fed cattle prices go lower, but I don’t anticipate a crash.

That’s because both domestic and international beef demand is remarkable and fed cattle harvest, as well as total federally-inspected harvest, has been strong as a result. At some point, U.S. demand will taper off as summer heat quashes grilling demand, but to what extent remains to be seen. I may be overly optimistic, but I suspect we won’t see domestic demand taper off as much as has been historically the case.  Let’s hope.

But then there’s the drought. That shouldn’t have a big direct effect on the fed cattle market, but there may not be a lot of feeder cattle left out there to go on feed in the coming months. According to Rabobank, the early forced placement of calves has reduced available supplies of cattle outside feedyards, which should be price-supportive for summer and the second half of the year.

That be the case, cost of gains will go up if cattle feeders have to pony up for feeder cattle while looking at the possibility of fed cattle prices in the doldrums. What’s more, if drought affects corn production enough to make a dent come harvest time, it could affect cost of gains as well.

The Drought Monitor map shows 25 states reporting some degree of drought. Some are minimal and others are heart-breaking. According to Rabobank, the Southwest states showing the worst of the drought contain 34% of the beef cows in the U.S. and the total number of states showing some drought contain around 70% of the U.S. cowherd.

If the D3 and D4 drought areas don’t get some life-saving moisture, the risk of more drought-forced liquidation will increase radically. What that means for the fall run and the cattle market going into 2019 is up for debate. Let the discussion begin.


MIDDAY Midwest Digest, May 30, 2018

At least one organization is suggesting we get cancer screenings at a younger age.

Mike Parson's is the new governor of Missouri, and is a farmer.

World Pork Expo is next week, and there will be lots of government representation present.

Thieves can copy your key fob from outside your home.


Fed Cattle Recap | A slow, rough market

Memorial Day is behind us and grilling season has officially kicked off across the country. Beef demand both here at home and across the globe is exceptional. That’s the upside of the market. But for the week ending May 26, it seems the market could only focus on the downside.

The feedlot cattle trades were slow until after the Cattle on Feed report was published, then prices dropped quite a bit along with a big drop in cash sales volume.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 224,307 head, compared with about 230,545 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 46,278 head, compared with about 96,657 head the previous week. The national cash sales this week include only about 18,900 head of 15 to 30-day delivery, but the 90,000 head from the previous two weeks are being delivered now. 

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $110.06 per cwt, compared with $114.73 the previous week, which was $4.67 lower for the week. Last year it was $131.50 this same week after topping out at $144 a few weeks earlier.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $178.33 per cwt, compared with $184.02 the previous week, down $5.69.     

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $192.07 per cwt, compared with $198.83 the previous week, making it $6.76 lower.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 647,000 head, compared to 623,000 head the same week last year. Current year-to-date total about 368,000 head higher than last year, but over 1 million head higher than the same period in 2016. So the trade has enjoyed two years of big volume increases. 

However, we have plenty of beef to sell. The latest USDA meat production report for May 25 showed year-to-date production totals 364 million pounds of beef higher than last year when you add the increased carcass weights and bigger slaughter numbers. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending May 12 was 848 pounds, 1 pound lower than the previous week. But that compares with 836 pounds the same week last year. So we’re running 12 pounds heavier for the week, along with many weeks that were up to 20 pounds higher than last year. 

While 12 to 20 more pounds per carcass doesn’t sound like much, when you add it to the total steer numbers it represents adding roughly 5,000 to 7,000 more 800-pound carcasses every week, along with the increase in heifers in the slaughter mix.

The Choice-Select spread was $22.81 on Friday, compared with $23.79 the previous week and a $27.15 spread last year. Last year this spread jumped to $30 in June.


2018 Parasite & Pest Management Product Listing

Parasites on a hereford

MORNING Midwest Digest, May 30, 2018

The new governor of Missouri was out working his cattle when he learned he'll be sworn in.

A congresswoman from Tennessee says it's easy to identify the root cause of school shootings: the decline of family support, violent video games and the rise of porn.

A lot of farmers are counting on subtropical storm Alberto for much-needed moisture.

Now we know that few amusement parks have auxiliary generators. A park in Chicago had riders stuck on a train after a car took out the power source for the park.

Copying code from your cars key fob is easy, and thieves can do it from outside your home. 

Farm Progress America, May 30, 2018

Max Armstrong looks at the opportunity for farmers to reach out to lawmakers to share the importance of the farm bill. The American Farm Bureau Federation notes that it's important for farmers to connect with House members ahead of an upcoming vote later in June. The key word: farmers need to have contact with their legislators.

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: Win McNamee/Getty Images

5 Trending Headlines: The best birthday party ever; PLUS: How heifers are changing beef production Learning at the birthday party
A 6-year-old farm girl insisted on having her birthday party at the local sale barn. Read how her parents pulled it all off.

For a ranch girl, it was the best birthday party ever!

“You know that look you get from people when you’re taking people on a new experience and they’re not really sure about you or your idea. Last year we invited a dozen girls to our daughter’s birthday party and on Friday afternoon when my wife was picking our daughter up from school the other mothers were like “Sooooo, yeah. I guess we’ll see ya on Sunday.” You know what I mean. That polite comment with a touch of sarcasm when they think you’re crazy.”

Doug Ferguson’s daughter wanted to have her 6th birthday party at the sale barn. It took some creativity to turn her wish into reality. But, not only did he his wife and the sale barn pull it off, people are still talking about what fun it was a year later, reports

Click here to read how a sale barn birthday became such a success.

Rancher shares her beef with food labeling

In the sustainability world, the conversation around beef mostly involves reducing the environmental impacts of its production (deforestation, methane emissions, etc). But Cassidy Johnston can offer a perspective we don’t often get to hear in the Sustainable Brands conversation — a New Mexico-based cattle rancher and newly appointed Sustainability Officer for the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), Johnston is eager to share ranchers’ side of the story with the public and help dispel what she says are common misconceptions behind beef and its role in a sustainable food future.

In an extensive interview with Sustainable Brands, Johnston crushed many myths about cattle and ranching. Among them: “We don’t care about our animals or the environment, we’re only concerned with making money. While it’s certainly true that we need to make a living, the way to make a living in this business is not by treating your animals or the environment poorly. From our cows to our land, we do our very best. We are stewards of the land and caretakers to the animals, not just people raising cattle for beef.”

Click here to read more.

The role of heifers in beef production continues to grow

The contribution being made to our beef production by heifers is beginning to see an uptrend, thanks to a growing level of efficiency in how producers feed and manage their livestock. However, research on this matter is also revealing some of the unintended consequences that the industry may be starting to realize, according to the Oklahoma Farm Report.

As herd expansion in the U.S. slows, we are seeing the slaughter rate of heifers increase from what they have been during the last several months of retention, says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University. This is part of an overall trend of growing slaughter rates in the U.S. as it pertains to heifers. For the past 45 years, heifer slaughter has averaged around 37% annually, when you look at the total make-up of both slaughter steers and heifers. Prior to 1965, though, that percentage averaged less than 30%.

What is interesting, too, is how heifer's carcass weights play into production as well. In 1967, heifer carcass weights averaged about 564 pounds. Since then, heifer carcasses have increased as a percent of steer carcass weight to a new record of 92.5% in 2018.

Click here to read more of Peel’s analysis.

Grazing can reduce wildfires

Many people today think fire is “natural,” but devastating fires are not. Grazing is healthier for the landscape. A fire can burn into the top layers of soil and destroy all plant life — roots, seeds, etc. , according to the Angus Beef Bulletin. “Fire can oxidize a lot of material and waste it, whereas grazing recycles it better,” says Fred Provenza, professor emeritus in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University.

Fire is the biggest problem in areas that are not grazed enough, such as western rangelands that have had livestock numbers reduced by land management agencies. If there is too much fuel load, it is a hotter fire that destroys plant roots and seed bank, and it damages top layers of soil. Then there will be nothing but opportunistic invasive weeds coming back in because the perennial grasses, forbs and shrubs are gone.

“This is one reason we now have so much cheatgrass across the western U.S., and a sagebrush fire/cheatgrass fire cycle exacerbates the problem,” says Provenza.

Click here to read more.

Exotic tick dangerous to humans, cattle found in West Virginia

According to the state Department of Agriculture, the first Haemaphysalis longicornis ticks, also known as the East Asian or longhorned ticks, have been found in West Virginia. The exotic ticks were found on cattle at two separate locations in Hardy County.

Officials say the tick is invasive, and is considered a threat to both humans and cattle. The tick has also been found in Virginia and New Jersey, reports WDTV in Bridgeport, West Virginia.

"Heavy tick infestations may cause stunted growth, decreased production and animal deaths. This tick species is known to carry several diseases prone to affect livestock and humans alike, some of which are not prevalent in the United States," the department stated in a press release. “We want people to understand we now have confirmation this tick is in West Virginia. Livestock producers and the public should take extra precautions,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

Click here to read more.