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Articles from 2010 In June

Social Media Changing the Livestock Marketing Game

s6000936.JPG Yesterday, I spent the day at the 2010 Red, White and You Conference in St. Peter, MN. This event focused on teen leadership in the legislative process, networking with others, and how to use online social media tools in a professional setting. I've said it a million times before, but new online networks are changing the way the world does business, and beef producers are rapidly catching on and becoming active players in the online marketing game.

limousinlive-logo.png One great example is Andy Peterson, founder and operator of LimousinLive, a website featuring video clips of bull sales, cattle shows and other events in the Limousin breed. I had the opportunity to chat with Peterson about his new venture, and he offered some tips and tricks for cattlemen to consider when deciding to make the plunge and advertise using Facebook, blogs, Twitter, YouTube and other venues.

Here is what he had to say: “Social media tools change the game of marketing. These tools allow us to market to our customers in a way we never have been able to before. Becoming a fan of a brand, operation or product on Facebook is a public statement showing support for that company. This will change the way we market our agriculture products."

Peterson said his inspiration came after attending the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in Denver. "Because our flight was set to leave early, I wasn’t able to catch the results of the Limousin show. When I got home, I was dying to know what happened in the championship drive, but there wasn’t any readily available information. That’s where the concept of LimousinLive came to life.

"Word of mouth is the best way to market your products, and social media helps to get people on board and connected with what your business has to offer. Certainly there is a learning curve for these things, and it can be overwhelming for producers to try it out, but my best advice is to just get started," says Peterson.

Peterson certainly offers some great words of wisdom based on his experiences with social networking and marketing livestock. In the past, I have called on you to use these tools to share the agriculture story and educate consumers. This helps to secure the future of our industry. More directly, these tools can be used to push your operation forward and directly market to a new group of producers. Have you used these tools to market your cattle? Is it something you would consider doing?

JBS Eyes Smithfield As Acquisition Target

Reuters reported that JBS S.A. is in search of more acquisitions to help it stay ahead of a number of acquisitions by rival Marfrig, according to Valor Económico. As a result, JBS may work to restart talks with Smithfield Foods Inc. to further expand into pork.

JBS, which bought a Smithfield subsidiary, Smithfield BeefGroup, in 2008, is trying to stay head of Brazilian beef competitor Marfrig, which has expanded globally thanks to as many as 38 acquisitions in three years.

The market value of Smithfield is currently $2.5 billion.

To read the entire article, link here.

BVD And All That Comes With

Beef cattle practice is slowing down across the upper Midwest and Great Plains. Most of the herd bulls have been tested for breeding soundness. Many have been turned out while some are awaiting their special day. Producers are busy putting up hay and fretting over rain. The mama cows are out to grass with babies at side. There is nothing like a great spring and early summer on a ranch. Fall, it seems, will be here soon and weaning is just around the corner. This installment will focus on BVD virus, including its effects on cattle and what it means to the rancher.

The cattle virus most discussed today is BVD or BVDV, which stands for bovine viral diarrhea virus. Most often, BVD has very little to do with diarrhea but rather leads to pneumonia and a variety of reproductive effects. There are two types of BVD, type 1 and type 2. Each type is further divided into cytopathic and noncytopathic strains. Cytopathic indicates a strain that destroys cells grown in a culture dish in a lab. Noncytopathic strains do not destroy the cells. As a virus, it requires a host animal for survival. Consequently, infected cattle serve as the primary source of the virus to infect other animals. Infected animals shed virus in every bodily secretion. Any beef or dairy animal with nose-to-nose contact will certainly be exposed. So what happens after exposure?

To read the entire article, link here.

BEEF offers a huge library of resources and past articles on controlling and eliminating BVD. These can be accessed here.

Water Requirements for the Cow Herd

During hot summer months, the water needed for a cow herd often determines several other management decisions. To best assess the adequacy of water quantities in surface water or from wells or "rural water" supplies, it first is necessary to have an idea of the amount needed for cattle of different sizes and stages of production that you may have during the summer on the ranch.

A University of Georgia publication lists the estimated water requirements for cattle in different production stages if the daily high temperature is above 90° F. They suggest that amount of water required can be estimated by the production stage and the weight of the cattle.

To read the entire article, link here.

2010 Brings Fresh Optimism, Increased Beef Demand

img_0810.JPG The economy is turning around, consumers are paying the extra buck for steaks again and beef producers are finally seeing green after a few long, hard years in the red. Perhaps it's youthful enthusiasm and optimism, but I see a real future for beef cattle production; however, I'm not so naive that I don't have my fair share of skepticism, as well. I realize there are challenges that lie ahead, and it's thanks to all of you and your seasoned advice that I'm able to make educated decisions in navigating the obstacles that I face.

Today's newsletter further supports my optimism for the future of the beef cattle industry with two articles you might find interesting, "Cattle Producers Seeing Green" and "World Beef Production Expected To Decline," both discussing supply and demand and how that will reflect upon producer pocketbooks. In addition, the June issue of BEEF magazine features results of an exclusive reader survey under this headline: "Producers Are More Optimistic," which goes as far as saying the opportunities for producers in 2010 look "outstanding."

Do you share these positive views? How are things looking in your neck of the woods? What do opportunities look like for young people hoping to enter the business? How do you see the next couple of years looking for beef producers? Will competition from other proteins be a problem for beef demand, or will consumers continue to favor high-quality steak? What are your thoughts on this subject? Is my youthful enthusiasm misplaced? Weigh in today!

Also, did you see yesterday's post about the vegan who visited a feedlot and, surprisingly, liked what he saw? Well, now he has come out with a follow-up blog spot responding to reactions from both the meat industry and animal rights activists. Apparently, he felt the need to clarify on a few points. You might find it interesting to read his entry.

Leave Marketing Options to Cattlemen

On behalf of the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association (SDCA) and our 1,000 beef producer members across the state, I'd like to offer a different producer perspective than that represented in the June 22 Argus Leader article entitled, "S.D. livestock groups encouraged by USDA proposal to level competition" and the follow-up article of June 23 entitled, "Livestock producers praise rule proposals."

Long-standing South Dakota Cattlemen's Association policy opposes legislation and regulations that restrict cattle marketing options. We believe cattlemen deserve to decide for themselves which marketing option is most profitable for their operation.

In the past few decades, the way we market our cattle has changed significantly. Our industry's focus on the beef consumer has led to many innovative marketing programs that have improved beef quality, provided quality eating experiences for the consumer and made cattlemen more profitable and efficient.

To read the entire article, link here.

According to a recent, exclusive reader survey conducted by BEEF earlier this month, more than 78% of you said government intervention in livestock marketing would have a negative impact on cattle marketing. What are your thoughts? Does Nagel have it right in his opinion piece?

Farmers Diversify To Stay Viable

Various sectors within the agriculture industry have gone through rocky periods in the last few years.

Partly in response to that, managers of the Virginia Farm Bureau say farmers are increasingly "diversifying" their farms and getting into several aspects of agriculture at once.

You used to see dairy cows on the farm Lynn Koontz runs in Rockingham County. Not anymore.

"And, boy, I'm glad I did that," says Koontz.

He's opted to get into several things including beef cattle, poultry and raising crops.

To read the entire article, link here.

How about your operation? Are you adding new wrinkles to your management plan to diversify your income opportunities? Let's discuss what you're trying and how it's working for you.

Beef Quality Training To Be Offered

Beef producers are invited to attend a training session on Aug. 24 for the Texas Beef Quality Producer program to sharpen their knowledge of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) principles, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. A complimentary lunch sponsored by Texas Beef Council will be served.

"Beef Quality Assurance is a national effort in the beef industry that focuses proven management practices that help ensure safety and quality of beef," said Dr. Ted McCollum, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in Amarillo.

"The Texas Beef Quality Producer program is the program developed for cow-calf and stocker producers in Texas," McCollum said.

In addition to focusing on the safety of beef products, the program informs producers on current industry concerns and how producers can help with increasing demand for cattle and beef, he said.

The intensive half-day training will cover BQA principles, industry updates, record keeping, environmental stewardship, management practices associated with genetic selection, cattle handling, culling and use of animal health products, said Langdon Reagan, AgriLife Extension agriculture agent for Wilbarger County.

Participants should RSVP by Aug. 16 to Stacy Fox at Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TBSCRA) at 800-242-7820, or by contacting the AgriLife Extension office in Wilbarger County at 940-552-5474.

The Beef Quality Producer program is a collaborative effort of AgriLife Extension, Texas Beef Council (TBC) and TSCRA. Funding is provided by Beef Checkoff dollars from TBC and TSCRA, as well as allied industry groups.

A Must Read: Vegan Visits Feedlot, And Approves

When vegan, nutritionist, health expert and overall "foodie" Ryan Andrews was given access to visit a Colorado feedlot, he was nervous about what he might discover during the tour. Would the headlines he had read be accurate? Are cattle really stuffed with corn and drugs and crammed into too-small pens? Is the waste from the feedlot really destroying the environment? Would he see animal cruelty? And, most importantly, if he saw these things, how would he respond?

As a reader, you may be happily surprised at Andrew's reaction from his visit to the feedlot, and I think he was equally as surprised by his findings. I'm telling you, Andrew's article, "Cattle Feedlot: Behind the Scenes, from Precision Nutrition," is a MUST READ! I have included an excerpt below. Enjoy!

Andrew's conclusions: I was tired of talking about, reading about, and hearing about feedlots. Especially when many of the accounts were from people who had never been to a feedlot in their lives. So, when I was given this sort of rare access, I jumped at the chance to check one out for myself.

And, I have to say it. If my experience at Magnum is representative of other cattle farms, all those accounts of the dismal, depressing, disastrous cattle conditions seem to be exaggerated. No, I’m not going to start eating meat again. However, if I did eat meat, my visit to Magnum would have made me feel great about eating non-organic, non-grass-fed beef. Seriously. I can’t imagine the quality of meat would be substantially better with organic and grass-fed. Nor can I imagine the living conditions would be substantially better for the cattle.

To read the entire article, link here. What did you think of the piece? Were his conclusions about feedlots accurate? Add your two cents and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Manure Provides Higher Returns Than Chemical Fertilizers

No significant differences in corn yield were found between organic and chemical sources of nutrients, but a Texas AgriLife Research economist said manure generates higher economic returns than anhydrous ammonia.

Seong Park, AgriLife Research economist, recently had his research published in the Agronomy Journal. The work was from studies he conducted in the Oklahoma Panhandle while at Oklahoma State University (OSU).

The long-term experiment involved the use of pig and beef manure on irrigated corn fields, he said. The testing was conducted in part due to a rapid growth of animal population and density in that region, as well as the northern part of the Texas Panhandle.

To read the entire article, link here.