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Articles from 2007 In July

New Product Winner: Omaha Steaks Southwest Short Rib Roast

Omaha Steaks Southwest Short Rib Roast was named the winning entry in the “Consumer/User Friendly” category of the “2007 Best New Beef Products Contest” sponsored by the Nebraska Beef Council, the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. The Southwest Short Rib Roast was introduced in July 2006 and is currently sold exclusively by Omaha Steaks via mail order, online and at more than 80 Omaha Steaks stores nationwide.

The Southwest Short Rib Roast is packaged in four (10 oz.) roasts, fully cooked and seasoned to just heat and eat. The product is marinated and rubbed with a BBQ marinade and Southwest Chipotle seasoning and slow roasted in its own juices to enhance the tenderness. The roast was developed by Omaha Steaks and produced in Nebraska.

“The development of new and interesting beef products has been a major emphasis for our industry over the past several years,” said Nebraska Beef Council Executive Director, Ann Marie Bosshamer. “The annual ‘New Beef Products Contest’ offers an incentive to Nebraska processors to develop beef products that are easy for the consumer to prepare and serve.”

The Southwest Short Rib Roast is being promoted to consumers via the Omaha Steaks catalog, website and through special monthly mailers. In recognition of winning the contest, The Nebraska Beef Council will use beef check-off dollars to assist Omaha Steaks in the promotion of this new product. Visit

Lookout for blue-green algae

The North Dakota State University Extension Service's water quality associate urges producers to watch for green to blue-green scum or a gelatinous mass on the surface of their livestock's fresh water supplies.

"Algae blooms cause major disruptions not only because of their offensive odor and appearance; they can be potentially fatal to livestock," Roxanne Johnson says. "Not all algae blooms are toxic, but without laboratory analysis, it is impossible to identify poisonous species."

This seasonal event is not really an algae, but photosynthetic bacteria called cyanobacteria that rely on sunlight for energy. As they store energy, they create a tiny cavity of air that allows them to move up and down in the water to areas with more nutrients. As environmental conditions improve with warm weather, calm winds and abundant nutrients (particularly phosphorus and nitrogen), the bacteria numbers increase. A "bloom" of green or blue-green algae on the surface of the water may appear overnight, accompanied by an unmistakable musty, earthy or putrid odor.

"As cyanobacteria break down, they release toxins that can be an irritant to human skin and potentially lethal to animals," Johnson explains.

Concentrations of algae develop as winds move the toxin to the leeward, or downward, shore, where producers may find evidence of toxicity, such as dead mice, snakes and other animals near the water's edge. Toxicity is dependent on the species consuming the water, and the concentration and the amount of water ingested.

Blue-green algae produce two toxins, each with different symptoms. Signs of neurotoxin poisoning usually appear within 15 to 20 minutes of ingestion. In animals, symptoms include weakness, staggering, difficulty in breathing, convulsions and ultimately death. In humans, symptoms may include numbness of the lips, tingling in fingers and toes, and dizziness. Signs of liver poisoning may take hours or days to appear. Liver toxins can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in humans and death in animals.

Most blooms are obvious to the naked eye; however, blue-green algae can be in water without a visible bloom, Johnson says. She advises producers to treat their water if they've previously had blooms.

Treatments include using an aeration/mixing device to create turbulence in the water and minimizing nutrient levels in the water by establishing vegetated buffer strips around the water to intercept and trap nutrients and sediments. Another long-term strategy is limiting livestock's access to ponds or dugouts to areas that have been stabilized to prevent damage from trampling. Producers also may choose to pump water to a tank or trough after fencing the water source to keep livestock out.

Johnson advises producers to clean stock tanks on an annual basis to keep algae growth to a minimum.

Some producers are adding dyes, such as Aquashade, Blue Lagoon and Admiral, to nonflowing pond water to filter out ultraviolet rays. According to the products' labels, this treatment is most effective when used early in the season for water intended for livestock consumption. It is not recommended for human drinking water.

Algaecides, such as copper sulfate, are effective in killing algae blooms. However, these algaecides also can kill fish and damage the ecosystem of inland waters, Johnson says. Lethal levels of toxins may result as a consequence of algae cell walls rupturing when copper sulfate is used.

For procedures on treating water, check NDSU Extension Service publication AS-954, "Livestock and Water." It's available online at

Other treatments include suspending barley straw, loosely in a mesh bag, in the affected pond. A study from the Center for Aquatic Plant Management in Berkshire, England, says the most effective time to apply straw is before algae growth begins because the anti-algae agents released by the straw are more effective in preventing algae growth than in killing algae. The straw becomes active within a month and will continue to inhibit algae growth up to six months.

"While there are no quick fixes to control blue-green algae once they appear, reducing the amount of nutrients washed into ponds may eventually lessen the intensity of the bloom," Johnson says.

Next Tip: Beware of foot rot in wet conditions >

Coproducts made easy

Feeding coproducts has distinct advantages for producers, but also creates unique nutritional requirements. Hubbard Feeds' new GainRite™ Coproduct Balancers are formulated specifically for distiller's grains and corn gluten diets.

GainRite offers flexibility, with different inclusion rate and forms, and is specifically formulated with minerals to promote growth and feed intake, along with vitamin E to aid performance. It also offers supplemental calcium to offset high phosphorus levels in coproducts, and a thiamine supplement.

Since feeding coproducts is a relatively new practice, Hubbard Feeds offers a team of experts to serve as a resource for producers, along with a growing database of technical info on feeding coproducts. Visit

See more featured products from American Cowman >

American Angus Association launches new genetics company; introduces new heifer EPD

The American Angus Association Board of Directors recently voted to authorize the formation of a new company. Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) will conduct business as the Beef Improvement Company and will focus on the genetic evaluation of cattle traits.

In addition, it will conduct research and implement new technology, including DNA, for use throughout the beef industry. The new company evolved as a result of ongoing input from registered seedstock suppliers and the beef industry stressing the need for more accurate evaluation tools for all Angus genetics used in the commercial beef sector.

The genetic evaluation of beef cattle in the U.S. gained momentum in the mid-1970s and was initially undertaken by individual breed associations. Each association was responsible for performance data collection and the reporting of the data. The complexity of data analysis led associations to seek support from land-grant universities.

By the 1980s, land-grant universities were responsible for performing the genetic evaluation of most registered seedstock in the U.S. A more recent shift in university resources and philosophy make it necessary for beef industry entities to assume responsibility for genetic analysis, while the land-grant university systems will focus more toward research.

While the American Angus Association is the world’s largest beef cattle registry, Angus influence in other U.S. beef breed registries is reported to be as high as 50% of total registrations where percentage, hybrid or composite cattle can be recorded. A genetic evaluation process using the largest, most influential genetic database ultimately provides the beef industry with more reliable genetic information.

The American Angus Association is responding to the beef industry by accepting a leadership role regarding the advancement of science and technology. Beef Improvement Company will continue developing technology, using sound science and best practices, for use by Angus breeders, commercial beef producers and the beef industry.
The American Angus Association, with headquarters in Saint Joseph, Mo., provides programs and services to more than 34,000 members and thousands of commercial cattle producers.

Also making Angus news, the American Angus Association has released its first research heifer pregnancy genetic evaluation. This project is part of a comprehensive effort to characterize economically important traits in Angus cattle and to develop selection tools to benefit commercial producers and seedstock breeders.

The initial research includes sire heifer pregnancy expected progeny differences (HP EPDs). These EPDs are designed to identify genetic differences among sires for daughter pregnancy.

“Even though reproductive traits are recognized as being lowly heritable, this research allows us to provide a genetic value to commercial producers in an area of high economic importance,” says Sally Northcutt, Association genetic research director.

The Fall 2007 heifer pregnancy research report contains HP EPDs and accuracies for 429 sires. The release of HP EPDs is in the form of a web-based research report found at containing sire EPDs with a minimum 0.30 accuracy. Printed copies are available on request. If you have questions, contact the Performance Programs Department at 816-383-5100.

DNA Technology — The Next Generation Of Management Tools

Learning more, earlier, gives all cattle producers an edge EPDs, ultrasound measurements and having a good eye for cattle have long been valuable selection tools. Now, DNA technology is taking selection to the next level, helping cattle producers make genetic progress faster, and more confidently, than ever before, says Dr. Kevin DeHaan, Technical Services Director, IGENITY®.

“DNA profiling provides information on many economically important traits not covered by EPDs, filling some significant gaps in the selection process,” DeHaan explains. “A DNA profile also gives producers and managers a more complete picture of potential performance earlier in an animal’s life.”

Bob Harriman and John Rotert, partners in Rotert/Harriman Bulls of Montrose, Mo., understand the payoffs of profiling.

“In cattle breeding, it’s often trial and error and it takes a few years to pin down a problem and its cause,” Rotert says. “With DNA profiling, you can identify problems sooner and speed up the generation interval.”

Harriman adds that weaving DNA technology into their current management plan will benefit their customers and the beef industry. Harriman and Rotert produce and sell Angus, Simmental/Angus and Balancer seedstock through cooperator herds.

They’ve incorporated the comprehensive IGENITY profile into their management and marketing plans, by profiling the bulls they are selling and using only DNA-profiled AI sires. They also intend to start profiling their replacement heifers and their top young cows soon.

“We’re interested in getting all the information we can to select and breed for the kind of cattle that will take all segments of the beef industry to their targets,” Harriman says.

“Combining DNA profiling with EPDs helps us move toward achieving that goal.”

DeHaan agrees, noting that DNA profiling should not be a producer’s only information source.

“When seedstock producers like Bob and John present DNA profiles alongside EPDs and performance data, they help their customers make a more informed purchasing decision,” he says. “That knowledge filters down to better breeding, management and selection decisions that can improve the quality of a herd and, in time, a breed.”

What a DNA profile offers

With all the selection tools available, a producer may ask: What does DNA profiling offer me that I’m not getting already? The IGENITY profile provides inside information about traits that are hard to measure by traditional methods, such as tenderness, says DeHaan. Plus, he continues, a DNA profile can offer information early in an animal’s life that can’t be measured until much later, or even until after harvest, by traditional methods.

“The measurement of tenderness has perplexed the beef industry for decades,” he says. “With DNA technology, we can measure an important trait affordably, allowing producers to breed and select for that trait, ultimately producing a more consistent beef product.”

And Rotert believes that can benefit the entire production chain.“If we can sell bulls that we know have certain traits, producers can sell with confidence and feedyards can buy with confidence,” Rotert says.

Rotert/Harriman bull buyers seem to agree. One bull Rotert/Harriman profiled had the top score for tenderness and also topped the annual bull sale — bringing $1,000 more than the other bulls.

Harriman notes that the buyer feeds his own calves and they are earmarked for a branded beef program, so a top tenderness score along with the other carcass information was very important to him. In addition to tenderness potential, the comprehensive IGENITY profile includes DNA analyses for fat thickness, ribeye area, yield grade, hot carcass weight, quality grade, marbling and breed-specific horned/polled, along with parentage in multiple-sire settings and a diagnostic test for identifying cattle persistently infected with bovine viral diarrhea (BVD-PI).

“We saw the need for DNA profiling and believe that it will continue to improve and become a standard practice,” Harriman notes. “We like to be prepared to meet industry demands, so we’re taking advantage of the technology now.”

“Regardless of the segment, the use of the IGENITY profile greatly reduces the wait-and-see factor,” DeHaan says. “Producers can make confident, informed decisions earlier and reap the benefits and efficiencies of tailoring their management plans to their cattle’s potential.”

Marston joins AHA, Hereford World Staff as Field Rep

The American Hereford Association (AHA) and Hereford World announced that Andee Marston, Manhattan, Kan., has joined the Hereford team. Marston will join the AHA/HW staff in August as the Southeast region field representative.

In this position, Marston will attend Hereford sales and events as well as assist breeders with marketing and genetic selection. He will also assist in educating members and commercial producers about AHA programs and other beef industry opportunities.

He will serve as the communication link between the AHA and breeders in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to hire a high caliber young man like Andee as the Southeastern field representative. Andee comes from a solid cattle background and has worked for several cattle breeders through high school, college and since he completed his college classes. He will be a great addition to our AHA fieldmen team,” says Joe Rickabaugh, AHA director of field management and seedstock marketing.

Marston has been involved in the beef industry since birth. His family has a registered Shorthorn operation near Manhattan. While growing up he was active in the Shorthorn junior association and graduated from Kansas State University with an animal science degree.

Since graduation he has been involved in the seedstock industry, including assisting Jensen Bros., Courtland, Kan., with show cattle management and its bull management and collection service. Most recently he has been manager of Bohi Land & Cattle Co. Butler Division. In that position he was responsible for the herd management, health and reproductive programs for 175 registered Angus cows and the management and development of 90 Angus bulls.

Marston will be relocating to the Nashville, Tenn., area.

The COOL Compromise Is Typical Of The Beltway

After years of delaying the implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) because of the problems associated with the law, it had come down to crunch time. Congress had to do something to make the law workable and it could no longer continue to delay its implementation, not with the China and dog food scandals on everyone's mind.

So in typical Washington fashion, they had to appear to be responding. The revised version of mandatory COOL is an improvement of sorts but nobody will truly be satisfied with this new law. While it will not devastate the industry as the original version would have, it doesn't address the competitive disadvantage with which it saddles beef. Nor does it close the loopholes that make the COOL component essentially worthless.

In fact, COOL as now proposed can't possibly make either side happy. It just mitigates the potential problems while giving everyone political cover.

It's a little difficult to explain the changes made to the law, but here are the highlights. The onerous record-keeping requirements have been eliminated, with no one now required to maintain anything but "normal" business records. The fines for noncompliance were reduced significantly, which eliminates some of the potentially devastating liability that would have been associated with selling our product.

The compromise also changed the possible package labels to include one called "Multiple Countries Of Origin," and another called "Imported For Immediate Slaughter." The result is that nearly all ground beef will be sold with a list of multiple countries (the list would include a list of all reasonably possible countries).

The previous version of mandatory COOL provided few or no benefits with a whole lot of costs and headaches. The proposed revision reduces the number of headaches and the costs, but reduces the chances of any benefits as well.

It's certainly an upgrade, but a long ways from ideal. It will be interesting to see if something different emerges from the Senate side.

Administration Threatens To Veto The Farm Bill

The administration this week threatened to veto the House Ag Committee's passed farm bill, saying it doesn't provide enough reform of the commodities title and needs to lower payment limitations. It also called the revenue measure to fund the additional $4 billion for nutrition a "tax increase."

The House Ways and Means Committee passed legislation to pay for this additional funding by ending the practice called "earnings stripping," which allows foreign-owned companies to shift income to a country with lower tax rates. The House Republican leadership in a statement said, "The Democrats' surprise tax hike would raise taxes on "insourcing" companies operating inside the U.S., potentially driving millions of American jobs out of the country. Specifically, the Democratic scheme would raise taxes on insourcing employers that operate throughout the U.S. and employ more than 5.1 million Americans."

Democrats counter that the administration is "flip-flopping" on this issue, and contend the measure "closes a tax loophole that allows foreign-based companies located in tax havens to avoid tax on income earned in the U.S. by their U.S.-based subsidiaries." Democrats also point to a 2002 Department of Treasury policy paper that identified "earnings stripping" as a tax abuse.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Ag Committee, released a statement saying, "This isn't the first time the Bush Administration has turned its back on American ag and rural America. They repeatedly threatened to veto disaster assistance for ag, which the Democratic leadership passed this year. The Administration also vigorously opposed the 2002 Farm Bill, which USDA Secretary Mike Johanns and others now praise as the right bill at the right time."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

Animal Rights Activities Still A Concern

Animal rights activists are completely committed to putting you out of business, says Kay Johnson, and they are working on many fronts to achieve their goal.

Johnson, with the Animal Agriculture Alliance, says animal rights activists use four battlegrounds to advance their agenda -- public perception, farms and businesses, the legal system, and the legislative and regulatory world.

"Some farmers and ranchers are being drug into court on false accusations," she says. "Not only does that create legal fees, but it creates doubt in your community about how you care for your animals."

Here are her suggestions on what cattle producers can do to fight back:

  • Talk to your customers, legislators, employees, neighbors -- get involved in your community.

  • Develop training programs for employees on animal-welfare handling and company policies.

  • Develop and implement a security plan, including strict hiring procedures.

  • Develop crisis management procedures -- become media trained and develop a company communications plan.

  • Strengthen state and local laws and penalties against animal rights violence, vandalism, intimidation and extortion.

  • Lobby for laws to require activist groups to pay legal expenses of producers/processors if charges are proven false.

  • Review state laws, ballot initiatives or referendums. Think outside the box -- do these restrictions on business/trade qualify as "a taking?"

  • Strengthen right-to-farm laws in your state.

  • Be proactive -- seek innovative solutions to the major issues raised, e.g., renewable energy from manure.

  • Lobby against initiatives to replace animal owner with "guardian."

  • Develop or join an industry-wide coalition in your state and community; Join state and national groups that represent the cattle industry in animal-welfare issues.
"Consumers want to know how much you incorporate morals and ethics into how you care for your animals," Johnson says. "The groups that challenge us don't want to improve animal welfare. They want to create a vegetarian society."