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Articles from 2014 In June


Outsmart Stress With Smart Supplementation

Stressful situations are practically unavoidable for modern beef cattle. With stress often comes reduced performance or even the opportunity for disease to take hold and cause more significant losses.

“A calf that’s eating goes a long way to increasing performance and weight gain, and, along with that, there’s improved health in these calves,” says Kerry Barling, DVM, Ph.D., Global Manager of Beef Technology, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “For years, we’ve talked about respiratory disease in cattle being a major problem. Usually respiratory disease manifests itself through stress, which weakens the calf’s system and allows disease to take place.”

The bovine respiratory disease complex (BRDC) is the most common cause for cattle deaths and results in more than $650 million in losses industrywide.1 The average pull rate in feedlot cattle has remained around 30 percent for years even with advances in vaccines and antibiotics to tackle both viral and bacterial BRDC causes, Dr. Barling notes.

“The one thing we haven’t been as diligent in is addressing how we alleviate that stress through management,” he says. “Another area the industry can pursue further is how to prime the calf’s immune system to help offset the effects of stress even before it occurs.”

One way to help outsmart stress before its effects on cattle are realized is to add a direct-fed microbial (DFM), also known as a probiotic — such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii — which has been proven to improve cattle feed uptake, lower morbidity and lower mortality.2 In a trial where all cattle were given an injectable antibiotic upon arrival, animals fed ProTernative®, which contains S. cerevisiae boulardii strain I-1079, had reduced pulls compared with controls.2

ProTernative can be fed to cattle before or during a period of known stress, such as weaning or shipping. Then, it is typically fed for the first 21 to 60 days of the feeding program, but it can be customized for the group. Dr. Barling notes that ProTernative can still be beneficial when fed after arrival while cattle are adjusting to their new surroundings. In addition, probiotics can be fed in conjunction with vaccination and antibiotic treatment programs.

Careful management during stressful situations — plus adding a probiotic to help reduce the negative impact of stress in cattle — can help the industry confront BRDC like never before.

“Particularly in this current economic market where we’re talking about $1,500 calves, the investment makes sense,” Dr. Barling says. “It’s a simple, cost-effective way to manage your risk. For just a few dollars per head, adding a probiotic can reduce treatment for BRD by half and even reduce mortality.”

 

1 Womack, J.E. Integrated program for reducing BRDC in beef and dairy cattle. Texas A&M University. Available at http://portal.nifa.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/0421802-integrated-program-for-reducing-brdc-in-beef-and-dairy-cattle.html. Accessed April 26, 2014.

2 Keyser SA, McMeniman JP, Smith DR, MacDonald JC and Galyean ML. Effects of Saccharomyces cerevisiae subspecies boulardii CNCM I-1079 on feed intake by healthy beef cattle treated with florfenicol and on health and performance of newly received beef heifers. J. Anim Sci 2007(85): 1264-1273.

 

Research Says 2% Of All Cattle Are Supershedders

The latest research says about 2% of all cattle, including those in feedlots and those on pasture, may be "supershedders," a term scientists have coined to describe cattle which turn out high levels of pathogenic organisms.

One of those problem organisms, of course, is Escherichia coli O157:H7.

This supershedding of pathogens in manure by the few is believed by some to be a primary source of contamination for all cattle entering slaughter facilities.

Findings from studies by researcher Terrance M. Arthur and his colleagues at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Roman L. Hruska US Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, NE, hope to provide a scientifically sound basis for new and effective strategies to curb shedding of this bacterium.

To read more about E. coli research, click here.

 

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U.S. MARC Releases Across-Breed EPD Figures

genetic charts to help determine crossbred epds

The 2014 table of adjustment factors to be used to estimate across-breed expected progeny differences (AB-EPDs) for eighteen breeds was released at the Beef Improvement Federation Annual Meeting in Lincoln, NE on June 20 (see Table 1). Across-breed adjustment factors have been calculated for growth traits and maternal milk since 1993. Adjustment factors for carcass traits have been calculated since 2009; to be included, breeds must have carcass data in the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) database and report their carcass EPDs on an actual carcass basis using an age-adjusted endpoint. Bulls of different breeds can be compared on the same EPD scale by adding the appropriate adjustment factor to the EPDs produced in the most recent genetic evaluations for each of the eighteen breeds. The AB-EPDs are most useful to commercial producers purchasing bulls of more than one breed to use in crossbreeding programs. For example, in terminal cross-breeding systems, AB-EPDs can be used to identify bulls in different breeds with high growth potential or favorable carcass characteristics.

genetic adjustment tables for different breeds

As an example, suppose a Gelbvieh bull has a weaning weight EPD of + 68.0 lb and a Hereford bull has a weaning weight EPD of + 46.0 lb. The across-breed adjustment factors for weaning weight (see Table 1) are -19.4 lb for Gelbvieh and -4.2 lb for Hereford. The AB-EPD is 68.0 lb – 19.4 lb = 48.6 lb for the Gelbvieh bull and 46.0 - 4.2 = 41.8 lb for the Hereford bull. The expected weaning weight difference when both are mated to cows of another breed (e.g., Angus) would be 48.6 lb – 41.8 lb = 6.8 lb.

Most breed associations publish EPDs at least on an annual basis. These EPDs predict differences expected in performance of future progeny of two or more bulls within the same breed for traits including birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, and maternal milking ability (as reflected in progeny weaning weights). Normally, the EPDs of bulls from different breeds cannot be compared because most breed associations compute their EPDs in separate analyses and each breed has a different base point. The across-breed adjustment factors allow producers to compare the EPDs for animals from different breeds for these traits; these factors reflect both the current breed difference (for animals born in 2012) and differences in the breed base point. They should only be used with EPDs current as of June 2014 because of potential changes in EPD calculations from year-to-year.

It is important to note that the table factors (Table 1) do not represent a direct comparison among the different breeds because of base differences between the breeds. They should only be used to compare the EPDs (AB-EPDs) of animals in different breeds. To reduce confusion, breed of sire means (i.e., when sires from two different breeds are mated to cows of a third, unrelated breed) between 2012 born animals under conditions at USMARC are presented in Table 2.

genetic adjustment tables for different breeds

The adjustment factors in Table 1 were updated using EPDs from the most recent national cattle evaluations conducted by each of the eighteen breed associations (current as of March 2014). The breed differences used to calculate the factors are based on comparisons of progeny of sires from each of these breeds in the Germplasm Evaluation Program at USMARC in Clay Center, Nebraska.

These analyses were conducted by USMARC geneticists Larry Kuehn (email: [email protected]; ph: 402-762-4352) and Mark Thallman (email: [email protected]; ph: 402-762-4261).

 

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Animal Feed Additives Market Expected to Reach $20 Billion by 2020

According to a new research report by Allied Market Research, titled "Animal Feed Additives Market (Product, Livestock, Geography) - Global Industry Size, Analysis, Growth, Trends, Share, Opportunities and Forecast 2013 - 2020", the global animal feed additives market was valued at $14.9 billion in 2013 and is estimated to reach $20 billion, registering a CAGR of 4.2% during 2013 - 2020. The increase in global meat consumption has boosted the demand of animal feed and feed additives market. The demand for high nutritional meat that is available at low cost throughout the globe is also driving this market and this trend in the market is considered as the key factor supporting the industrialization of meat production across the globe.

Get a Free Sample of the Report at http://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/animal-feed-additives-market

Animal feed additives add value to the animal life and the quality of their meat. Due to positive impacts that the additives have on the animals, the product is gaining momentum across the globe. Asia Pacific and LAMEA (Latin America, Middle East and Africa) regions are greatly demanding meat products of better quality to cater to the demand within these regions. The various other factors driving the market are concerns over the meat quality and safety of meat products among the consumers following recent disease outbreaks has compelled meat producers to focus on the quality of feed provided to the animals. The variations in regulations across the globe is having an unfavorable impact on worldwide meat market, particularly in developed and advance developing economies. For example, consumption of antibiotic, which is a development promoter, was banned by the European regulatory authorities due to its adverse effects on the consumer and on animal health. The opportunity for this market is the rising demand for feed additives in the Asia pacific region, due to the increase in meat production and export. For Example, India has started subsidies for meat exporters as an encouragement for animal husbandry industry and thus providing huge opportunity for feed additive market.

Amino acid as growth amplifiers has higher popularity among meat producers as it helps in faster growth of the livestock, expediting their ROI. The amino acid feed additives hold the largest revenue share of the animal feed additives market in 2013. Lysine is the predominant amino acid feed additive currently being used; accounting for about 70% of amino acid feed additives market. Tryptophan, Methionine and Threonine are other major amino acid feed additives. Though antibiotics has been banned in major European countries, it will continue to be the second largest revenue generating segment for the animal feed additives market followed by feed acidifiers and vitamins. Antioxidants and feed enzymes are expected to have notable growth during the forecast period though having smaller market size.

The livestock segment of the animal feed market is segmented into pork, seafood, cattle and poultry. The Poultry segment is the highest revenue generating market among the segments. This is due to increase in demand in developing nations, which is the highest poultry meat producing region. The leniency in the regulations for this market has also contributed to the increase in demand and has encouraged the multinational companies to invest in this market, thus making the market even more competitive.

 

How Can We Show Consumers Our Morality And Integrity?

changing consumers perception of beef industry

I receive many emails from readers that really get me thinking, and one from reader Austin Black is a good example. Black suggests a discussion about the ethics and morality of the beef business and how we can demonstrate to consumers that we do what is right in raising cattle. Here is what he had to say:

“For the past few years, we have been preaching the need for farmers to share their story and get personal with consumers about how we raise food. We try to help them put a face to the plate and trust the people who provide for families across this nation and world. And while the ag industry has made progress and educated people, we still seem to face an insurmountable battle with activist groups, natural-focused food companies and even the government. 

“We as an ag community have preached how humane our practices are, how efficient and environmentally friendly our farms run, how much we produce compared to 50 years ago, and how science and technology aids in our progress. But what the opposing team (HSUS, Panera, Chipotle, PETA, etc.) is saying, and what is resonating with consumers, is the question of what is ethical, what is right and what is moral.

 

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“I know as farmers, we do look at the bottom line, as well as the science, the technology, and yes the humane aspect. But because we don't have any qualms with how we operate, we don't think about what is really ethical or moral about how and why we farm. So naturally we aren't inclined to talk and share in this way.

“My question is how does the ag community address and respond to this? How do we get away from using facts, numbers and vocabulary that address our efficiency, our effect on the environment and the fact that we are caring for our animals in ways that are approved by the government, and focus on sharing the ethical and moral reason for why we farm, how we produce and why we are justified in that regard?

“I hear the same story over and over from farmers, and I see attack after attack from outside groups and campaigns. But I don't see the ag industry changing how we handle, react to and go on the offense to these situations. I would love to hear your thoughts and see a blog addressing this aspect.”

Black makes a good point that while we have plenty of science and research to back up our production practices, our adversaries are much better at appealing to the emotional side of the conversation. Think about the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) TV commercials asking for $19.99 to save dogs and cats. Put to gloomy music, sad-eyed and frightened puppies and kittens are show in video close-ups, and HSUS practically reaches through the TV screen and into our wallets.

What about celebrities? Many cite being sympathetic to animals as reasons why they have chosen a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. They’ve either read something sensational in an article or book, or watched a video of animal abuse taken by undercover activists on a farm (not aware that, too often, the abuse is actually perpetrated by activists to get the footage they want to do the most damage to the industry).

Many consumers mistrust modern agriculture. Words like “big ag,” and “factory farms” leave the impression that American agriculturalists willingly sacrifice their integrity and the wellness of the animals in their care to maximize production. Rationally, our consumers probably know that large farms and ranches enable us to produce enough food to feed a growing population, but emotionally, they want Grandpa’s Old MacDonald-style farm to return, complete with two cows, three chickens, a horse, and a couple of pigs.

So how do we address morality, ethics and integrity in our conversations with consumers? For starters, I think we can continue to post photos on social media of our contented cattle grazing summer pastures, our families working together on the ranch, and healthy beef sizzling on the grill. A picture is worth a thousand words after all; simply by sharing the aspects of our daily life, I think we can show our consumers who we are and what we are really all about in agriculture.

But how about counteracting the emotionally charged attacks that animal rights and environmental activists throw our way? That is not such an easy task; however, I think the biggest thing we can do is to never leave such attacks unaddressed. It’s not fun to be reactive, but if we don’t respond to negative press, it can quickly become “fact” in the eyes of the consumer, no matter how outlandish.

I’d like to have readers’ thoughts on this topic. How can we show our consumers that we are doing what is right when it comes to raising livestock? How can we showcase our values, integrity, ethics and morality? How can we regain our consumers’ trust? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks, Austin, for the great email and conversation starter! Have a suggestion for a future blog discussion? Send me an email at [email protected] Thanks!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

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Low-Stress Weaning Helps Boost Calf Immunity

Mike Heely calf immunity tips

Like many young men who return to the ranch where they grew up, Mike Healy had big dreams back in 1982 when he went home to the LU Ranch at Worland, WY. Despite the inevitable conflicts he knew he would have with his father, Healy’s inquisitive nature and ability to see the long term made him think he could make what his dad had built even better.

Some 30 years later, it’s still a work in progress, he says. And while his 2012 calf crop, fed and harvested in 2013, indicates he’s come a long way in reaching his goals, he’s not ready to say he’s arrived. Ranching is a complicated business, and he says it seems he’s always struggling just to catch up.

“When you go in with enthusiasm, you make all these changes. Some are bad, some are good. You eliminate the bad ones, keep refocusing and focus on the good ones,” he says. It’s a philosophy he still holds today, and it’s the philosophy that underpins his whole approach to ranch management.

His weaning protocol is a good example. For many years, his ranch weaned traditionally, separating the cows and calves and letting them bawl it out. That’s fine when they were selling wet-nosed calves. But Healy and his father began retaining ownership in the late 1980s. By the mid-’90s, Healy began feeding the entire calf crop from his 1,400-head cowherd at Decatur County Feedyard in Oberlin, KS.

When you feed your calves and see the results of your management and genetic decisions further down the marketing chain, it changes your perspective, Healy says.

First, a marketing lesson

“Nobody in our outfit is good enough to tell you what the market is going to do,” says Kevin Unger, Decatur County Feedyard manager. So the feedyard centers its marketing program on historical seasonal movements in the fed-cattle market. “We try to market cattle in the high of the spring, with the second high coming in the fall,” he says.

Traditionally, Healy would wean in October and then background the calves in a yard near Worland for 1½-2 months before shipping them to the feedyard. But that protocol meant the cattle wouldn’t finish until June and July, which is the seasonal bottom of the fed-cattle market.

calf immunity tips
“Good health improves feed conversion, and it improves the quality grade.” -- Mike Heely, LU Ranch, Worland, WY

“Our profit was $8/head,” Healy says. “For the risks you’re taking, $8/head isn’t worth it. There were years we’d lose $150 and years we’d make $150. It’s fun making $150, but losing $150 takes a notch out of your hide. So we needed to find something more dependable.”

So he began listening to what the folks at Decatur County Feedyard had been telling him — that he needed to change his management procedure so his calves would hit the spring highs in the fed-cattle market.

Healy’s consulting nutritionist had been encouraging him to try early weaning. “But we tried to cheat on it at first,” he says. “We said, ‘Let’s just ship directly to the feedyard.’ The cattle would get through quicker, but they still weren’t selling in April. They were typically selling in late May. But it was earlier, so we were making progress.”

Health ramifications

But weaning early and shipping directly, without the benefit of backgrounding, led to some major health problems after the calves went on feed. “We couldn’t overcome our health problems, and we eventually had to stop doing that,” he says.

He heard about the nose-flap method of weaning and tried that. “We really liked it,” he says, but he was still weaning and shipping directly to the feedyard. And still experiencing health issues.

He went back to weaning them straight again; the result was an 8% death loss. So Unger and the feedyard’s consulting veterinarian made a visit to the LU Ranch, where the veterinarian diagnosed the problem as one common to large Western ranches.

Healy runs around 1,400 cows in the high desert of the West, an area that gets only 9-10 in. of precipitation. His stocking rate is 8-9 pairs/section, meaning big pastures and little contact between groups of cattle.

The problem, the vet said, was that the calves had a naïve immune system. Even with vaccination, their immune systems hadn’t fully developed before they shipped to the feedyard, where they mingled with calves from many different sources. “We knew that was an issue, the naïveté of the immune system. We knew we were also stressing them by the way we weaned,” Healy says.

Fenceline weaning wasn’t practical, given the expansive pastures. “So we tried the nose flaps again. We found that when we weaned them, the calves are absolutely quiet. They don’t mind getting weaned, and they don’t mind getting on the truck. It’s the cows that are bawling.”

Changing the weaning procedure dealt with the stress of traditional weaning. “But we needed to do something about allowing their immune systems to develop,” Healy says. That was conquered by returning to the backgrounding feedlot, where the calves stay for two months, developing on a high-roughage ration.

And they continued early weaning. “We said, ‘Let’s really shoot at the April target. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting a lot closer.’ ”

The 2012 calf crop was weaned the last week of August. The steer calves from the 2-year-olds were weaned Sept. 10. After a stop in the backgrounding feedlot, the calves were shipped in mid-November.

Hitting a home run

And the calves hit a home run. Here’s the “tale of the tape” after harvest in mid-May, with a comparison with the 2009 calf crop in parentheses:

  • Average daily gain, 3.78 lbs./day  (3.67 lbs. in 2009)
  • Ribeye area, 13.4 sq. in. average (12.5 sq. in. in 2009)
  • 48.7% in upper 2/3 Choice, 30.1% lower Choice for a total of 78.8% in the Choice grade (25.6% in upper 2/3 Choice and 42.9% in lower Choice in 2009, for a total of 68.5%.)
  • Yield grade, average of 2.8 (same as 2009)
  • Hot carcass weight, 862 lbs. average (816 lbs. in 2009)
  • Feed efficiency, 4.87 lbs. of feed/lb. of gain (5.41 in 2009)
  • Dressing percentage, 64.42% (63.1% in 2009)

To some extent, Healy credits those numbers to the changes in his weaning and health management. “I think they were healthier last year, and I think that helped the conversion,” he says. “Good health improves feed conversion, and it improves the quality grade.”

The year before, when he weaned directly to the feedlot and had such high death loss, quality grade took a big hit. “If it’s getting sick and they have to doctor it, it’s not going to grade, it’s not going to convert well and it’s not going to gain well,” he says.

But Healy is quick to point out that everything has to work in concert. “It takes a long time to get to this point,” he says.

Over the past 30 years, he’s made several changes in his genetics. Some worked, some didn’t. He changed his grazing strategy, using water distribution and lick barrels to manage grazing pressure and provide supplement at the same time. And he changed lots of other things on the ranch, and continues to look for ways to keep up with the changing dynamics of ranching today.

“We target how to make the most from the choices we have in our genetic selections and our on-the-ranch management to try to have a marketing program that will be profitable most of the time,” he says. “You focus on health, you focus on timing and you focus on genetics. If I survive long enough, I’ll look back 10 years from now and say I should have been focusing on a couple of other things.”

In an industry that’s always changing, that’s a given. But given that Healy feels he’s always a step or two behind his goals, and he’s always trying to catch up with where he wants to be, it likely won’t take him 10 years to refocus himself and remake his management to fit the changing paradigms of a complicated, shifting business.

 

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Soil Health Comes First, Then Grass & Livestock

soil health is important for your cowherd

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy.

If my writings do nothing more than confirm your current thinking, I’ll have failed. My aim is to, respectfully yet somewhat vigorously, challenge your current view of a cattle ranching business and lead you to some new thoughts, approaches and methods.

I’m reminded of my first meeting with the late Bud Williams – the best, in my opinion, of many gurus of stockmanship. After about 10 minutes of my questioning him, Bud stopped me and said that we needed to change the rules of the conversation.

He then pointed out that I was looking for things I did similarly to how he did them. He told me that I would likely find some and, when I did, “you will think you’re as good as I am, and you’re not.” He then said that for the rest of our conversation, I should only look for things (ways of handling livestock) that he did differently and ask why.

That very short exchange changed the way I have tried to learn from others ever since. Now, when I occupy the role of learner, these are my questions:

  • What are you doing?
  • Am I seeing it correctly?
  • Why do you do that?
  • Why do you do it that way?

A change in management approach

With that background I want to suggest another change in our approach to management. After working with a number of clients, talking to ranchers following some of my speaking engagements, and thinking about my own past approach, I’m convinced that most ranchers give their cattle the highest priority, followed by grass; little thought is given to soil.

I suggest that is backwards. We should think soil first, as all life springs from the soil. Our livestock can be a powerful tool to improve or damage the soil, and too many of us don’t think about which we are doing.  We just graze cattle. Of course, we like to think we’re not “overgrazing;” but do we really know what “overgrazing” is?

We usually do our grazing for the benefit of the cattle, and maybe the grass, with little attention to the effect on the soil. Do you know how to use livestock to improve soil organic matter, increase water infiltration rates, improve soil moisture holding capability, and improve nutrient cycling?  This can be done, and then grass productivity improves.

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In addition to seeing our livestock for their endpoint value, we need to see them as a powerful tool for soil improvement and then grass improvement. (In this context, when I talk of grass, I am including anything that livestock and wildlife will eat – grass, forbs and shrubs.) When a short period of grazing is followed by an opportunity for the grazed plant(s) to fully recover before being grazed again, and when the animals help to lay litter on the soil surface trampling some into the soil, and when animals spread their dung and urine on the very areas they graze, soils begin to improve.

As soils improve there will be an increase in biodiversity above and below the soil surface. There should be a greater variety of plants with different depths of rooting. Some will grow early and some will grow late, while others will grow when it’s hot. There also will be an increasing variety of soil micro-organisms and animal life. This complex web of interdependency, if properly managed, will continue to improve the soil and its ability to feed your livestock.

While I want herbicides and pesticides in my tool box, I want to use them as sparingly as possible, as no poison kills only the target organism. Sometimes the net effect is good, but we often fail to see the unintended consequences because they aren’t quite so obvious to the impatient, untrained eye.

I often wonder, when using pesticides and herbicides, what have we killed that is important to soil building and nutrient cycling or to a balance in predator-prey relationships. My preference is to manage as much as possible “for what you do want” instead of “against what you don’t want.” And I want healthy soils with much biodiversity above and below the soil surface.

Cattle endpoint value

While we should manage cattle for their endpoint value, we must put it in appropriate context. If soil building and soil protection isn’t one of the first considerations in developing our strategic plan for the ranch, it will probably be ignored.

Cattle operations must be flexible to accommodate good grass and pasture management. This often means that the same event (calving, breeding, branding, weaning, etc.) won’t happen in the same place each year, but the end results for cattle can still be good. In addition, the people involved must learn to be flexible and understand that nature likes a little chaos. Livestock management must fit the grass management, and the grass management must fit the objectives for soil health and soil improvement. 

We must always remember that our livestock are a powerful tool for management of the soil. They can be used for improvement or regression.  By thinking “soil” first, we can still allow for excellence in cattle management. So, let’s change the paradigm from livestock-grass-soil to soil-grass-livestock.

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

The opinions of Burke Teichert are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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Why You Need To Consider Hedging In 2014

Nip Grass Hay Before It Heads, Or Else

Nip Grass Hay Before It Heads, Or Else

If you think that plentiful grass seed heads is a good sign, you're wrong – and you’re losing grazing or feed value, suggests Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri Extension forage agronomist. It's a signal that pastures or hayfields are no longer producing grazing quality foliage.

For grass quality and quantity, grass seed-head tillers should be nipped early. Cutting seed heads before they emerge makes better feed in many ways. But once seed heads emerge, vegetative growth ends and the reproduction stage begins.

"Leaf growth stops and nutrients flow from leaves to seeds. For grass to grow again, seed heads must be mowed off," Kallenbach says. "Cattle won't eat seed heads unless forced to do so. And, the heads and seed head stems will make up a high percentage of the bales.”

After seeds are removed, grass restarts leaf growth. By cutting bad hay now, quality hay growth can restart, adds the forage specialist.

To read more about getting the most out of your hayfields, click here.

 

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Cattle Feeders Hall Of Fame Banquet To Feature Inspirational Speaker

Renowned speaker and author Scott Burrows will share his story of overcoming adversity and change at the 6th annual Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame induction banquet on Tuesday, July 29 in Westminster, Colorado. Also highlighting the Hall of Fame banquet will be the induction of two new Hall of Fame members and the introduction of the 2014 Industry Leadership Award and Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award winners.

Burrows has overcome incredible physical, personal and professional challenges through sheer determination, will power and goal setting. Using his physical paralysis as a visual metaphor, Burrows reveals how to drive personal and business results using the same mental focus that helped him rebuild his life. He uses the dynamic principles of vision, mindset and grit to inspire people to new levels of empowerment and self-confidence, setting the stage for developing innovative ideas and leadership strategies.

“This year’s Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame banquet will be inspire us to reach higher levels of success through Scott’s powerful message,” says Jim Miles, senior marketing manager for Merck Animal Health. “It also will be a special night of celebrating the contributions of four outstanding pioneers and members of the cattle-feeding community.”

The banquet will be held at the Westin Westminster, approximately 12 miles northwest of Denver. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. Dinner and the program will follow at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are included with a registration to the Cattle Feeders Business Summit or can be purchased individually at www.cattlefeeders.org or by calling Heather Monroe at 773-755-3000. The ticket price, which includes a donation to the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame, is $250 for one person or $375 for two. Tickets must be purchased by Friday, July 11.

About the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame

The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame was established to honor the exceptional, visionary men and women who have made lasting contributions to the cattle-feeding industry. Each year, two pioneers are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Additionally, a recipient for the Industry Leadership Award and the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award is chosen.  

For more information on the inductees and award winners, or about the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame, visit www.cattlefeeders.org and www.facebook.com/cattlefeeders.

BIF 2014 Meeting Showcases The Power Of Genetics

Beef improvement meeting highlights genetics
<p>Everyone is committed to moving the genetic improvement of beef cattle forward.</p>

Attend enough seminars and you’ll hear the message that genetics aren’t that important. The philosophy is that as the industry improves genetically, everyone gets swept along eventually, and other management factors are easier to measure and provide more immediate results. Thus, those should be the focus. 

I know the importance of marketing and proper management, and understand the complexity of issues that managers must deal with; so much so, that I can understand how genetics can slip down a manager’s priority list. However, selecting the “right” genetics isn’t a big time commitment, since most of the metrics are collected for other purposes as well.  

That’s why I love attending the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) conference each year. It has a way of validating the importance of genetics to the cattle industry’s future. I see no value in debating the value of grass management over genetics, as they both are important. One thing for certain is that the field of genetics is advancing at a remarkable rate and offers great opportunities. Meanwhile, the labor, time commitment and investment are far lower in implementing an improved genetic program than virtually any other significant management area.  

 

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The advancement and rate of improvement at the elite end of the seedstock pyramid is staggering, but the exciting thing is that the evidence of such gains is showing at the commercial level as well.

• We used to talk about a $100/head improvement in pens of good cattle over similar pens of poorer cattle on average; that figure is now easily over $300/head. 

• Within a pen of cattle, we used to talk about the difference between the most profitable animal and the least being around $300. I saw a closeout that showed several hundred of the most profitable steers made just shy of $900, while the least profitable in that pen lost $38/head!

• Remember a few years back when we were talking about 80/80 cattle which would go 80% Choice with 80% Yield Grade 1 and 2? At that time, we were talking about cattle that would gain 4 lbs./day and convert at 6:1 or better. Today, we’re striving for 80% or higher qualifying for Certified Angus Beef (CAB), and are already seeing individuals accomplish that.  

• We are now talking about 5 by 5 cattle – animals that gain 5 lbs./day and convert at 5:1 or better. It isn’t the average yet, but it is not uncommon either to have cattle that shatter these barriers.

I used to think that, with our variance in environment, the beef industry would never see the improvement that pork and poultry have made in the economically relevant traits of production. But we are now approaching levels that took them a while to reach, and it appears we have the diversity of genes and heritabilities in these traits to perhaps surpass our competitors. 

Feed efficiency was just one of the many traits discussed during the recent BIF conference, but it is increasingly obvious we will have a far more productive cowherd and more efficient feedlot animals – the result of advances in measuring, identifying and selecting for improved efficiency. 

The industry continues to make progress in moving away from indicator traits and selecting for economically relevant traits. EPDs like calving ease (an economically relevant trait) are far more valuable than birth weight EPDs (an indicator trait), and producers would make more progress by not using birthweight EPDs in conjunction with calving ease EPDs. However, we will probably continue to see birthweight EPDs published in sale catalogs.

But it is exciting to know that soon we won’t need to use feed efficiency, mature size, milk production levels and other traits to predict maintenance requirements because we will actually measure the true cost of maintenance. We’re continuing to add more economics to genetic measures, and while it has been discussed for a long time, there seems to be some effort to create/model individual selection indexes that will allow producers to refine their selection decisions based on their environment, resources, management and marketing plans. Meanwhile, DNA and molecular-assisted selection are still making tremendous strides and can improve the accuracy of young sire EPDs. The promise of this technology is immense.

One important note – while many indicator traits may not be directly used in selection indexes or printed in commercial catalogs in the future, it remains important that the seedstock industry continue to take these measurements as they are necessary to create the more dynamic selection tools.

The information from this year’s BIF conference was relevant, interesting and exciting. While the debates and discussions in the hallways and restaurants were sometimes impassioned, it was clear that everyone there is committed to moving the genetic improvement of beef cattle forward. And everyone benefits when that happens.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

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