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Fed Cattle Recap | Summer doldrums? Not yet, it seems

Fed Cattle Recap

If cattle feeders are looking for the summer doldrums to overtake the market, they’ll have to wait a little longer. The cash market for fed cattle for the week ending June 29, while steady, was still a market where your finger had to be on the trigger.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 266,272 head, compared with about 263,000 the previous week. Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 72,778 head, compared with about 86,000 head the previous week. 

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending June 29 was $110.13, which was 35 cents lower for the week. The Five Area region is comprised on Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa-Minnesota.  These states produce around 80% of the fed cattle market in the U.S.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $179.02, which was $1.37 lower.

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $180.06, $2.24 lower.

The June 28 estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 665,000 head and that compares with 649,000 head the same week last year. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending June 15 was 849 pounds, 3 pounds higher than the previous week and still lower than a year earlier, when weights hit 856 pounds.   

Choice-Select spread was $24.10 for the week, compared with $20.27 the previous week and a $13.39 spread last year. The spread is helped by the daily Choice rib primal that was $6 higher for the week. The same week last year, the price was $24 lower than the previous week.


MORNING Midwest Digest, July 2, 2019

Will you be traveling over the July 4th holiday? The number of drivers is expected to rise by more than 4% this year.

Kansas City police are trying to curb July 4th celebratory gun fire.

The warmth last week helped speed plant growth, but maturity is still greatly behind normal pace.

A Wisconsin man was sentenced for clogging toilets at a park.


Photo: EunikaSopotnicka/Getty Images


Farm Progress America, July 2, 2019

Max Armstrong looks at the buzz over industrial hemp offering some insight on the issue from a Twitter poll. He got a range of comments as part of the effort including those concerned about the trade, demand and the availability of processors. The key comment area is skepticism of the crop, even from land owners.

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: Arina_Bogachy/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Producer council recommends data needs for federal animal ID reporting, privacy

Cattle ID tags

Source: National Institute of Animal Agriculture

One of the USDA’s overarching goals for increasing traceability is to advance the electronic sharing of data among federal and state animal health officials, veterinarians and industry. Sharing basic animal disease traceability data with the federal Animal Health Events Repository (AHER) allows state animal health officials and the USDA to quickly trace sick and exposed animals to stop the spread of disease and importantly rule out which animals are not exposed. Currently, sharing information to AHER is voluntary for the states and other systems collecting it.

While in agreement that necessary information should be available to proper authorities in times of an emergency disease event, the Producers Traceability Council recently examined concerns from across the livestock industry about privacy and where data should be stored. Council members discussed and asked questions around the issue of who else may have access to data available to AHER, as well as what information is necessary and how that information is collected and by whom.

The Producers Traceability Council is an independent offshoot of the Cattle Traceability Working Group. The council was established to provide guidance on key issues relating to advancement of the nationwide Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) requirements. 

READ: Will a true cattle disease traceability program please stand up?

During its recent meeting in Denver, the council developed preliminary recommendations to the livestock industry that include the following consensus points on database liability:

  • In order to advance livestock traceability for emergency disease events, the minimal amount of data that is required should be collected and transferred electronically to AHER, meeting data standards and USDA standards for security.
  • Producers have the flexibitility and security to house data in third party management systems. It is recommended that third party data management systems be required to share with AHER the minimal data points necessary for disease traceback.
  • As regulations change, the industry should work with policy and legal experts to further expand protection of producers’ private information.

Much of the session centered on producer privacy issues. One important point of contention is the idea that a federal database holds tag ID numbers for livestock and associates those IDs with a livestock owner’s personal premise ID, or location of their farm or ranch.

However, through discussion with USDA representatives, council members found that the problem may be a labeling issue, rather than a collection issue.

Sarah Tomlinson, DVM, executive director, strategy and policy, Veterinary Services, APHIS, and Rich Baca, director of veterinary services informatics, mapping, and analytical services (USDA) for ADT IT, attended the meeting to provide factual information about USDA data practices. They provided an overview of AHER and how it works in case of an animal disease event.

READ: What's animal ID worth?

A primary data point collected by AHER is “Source System ID” which is a code that directs state or federal health officials to the data system where further information is stored, such as a state database, which would only be needed in an emergency trace situation.

The USDA says that by linking to that information instead of housing it, stakeholder privacy concern is reduced, while still allowing federal or state animal health officials to look up an official ID and connect quickly to the data source.

Discussion around six data points, the animal (tag) ID, event date, provider ID, event type, state and Source System ID, which are currently sent voluntarily to AHER from participating organizations, found some confusion in the industry about what information is actually collected.

The concern expressed in the industry that personal premise IDs are being linked to specific livestock tags in federal data bases is a privacy concern to many. However, it was made clear that an individual producer has multiple means to receive tags, such as through states or tag distributers.

READ: Why participate in a voluntary ID program?

The USDA representatives confirmed that AHER searches are limited to state and federal health officials with access to the APHIS databased used for emergency management response. Additionally, when Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are received, the federal personnel carefully evaluate and consider personal information with an interest of protecting personal privacy and confidential business information.

One data point requested to be shared with AHER is labeled “Provider ID.” The USDA representatives explained it was not necessarily an ID for the location of a livestock owner’s farm or ranch. Instead, it is an ID for a location associated with the event being reported. The event could be the purchase of ID tags, animal siting (such as a certification of veterinary inspection being issued for interstate movement), or retirement of a tag at slaughter.

The location identified by the Provider ID could be a tag retailer, state animal health official’s office, private vet’s office, market, third party data management company or other location responsible for records of the event, which in turn, would have information to provide for a trace.

The council discussed whether that data was needed on a federal level, as the state and system source would also have that information. The USDA representatives stated that this information will help animal health officials quickly find information to locate where an animal has been, point toward the current location of the animal, and provide timely information pertinent to a disease investigation.

USDA representatives stated that they would provide clarification of definitions and terminology of the requested data elements for AHER which is more easily understood to external audiences.

Recommendations from the council on what individual pieces of information should be shared with AHER will be considered after follow-up and clarification from the USDA. However, there was agreement to keep the data as minimal as possible while still being effective, for ease of consistent collection as well as privacy.

Another large discussion point was about use of private data management systems. To advance animal disease traceability, the council recommends databases, private and public, report mandated minimal data points to AHER of all tagged animals.

ADT-mandated information collected to move cattle across state lines will still go to state systems by law.

Members of the Producers Traceability Council represent the livestock value chain from across the industry and nation and include Chuck Adami, Equity Cooperative Livestock; Mike Bumgarner, United Producers; Ken Griner, Usher Land & Timber, Inc.; Joe Leathers, 6666 Ranch; Jim Lovell, Green Plains Cattle Company LLC; Bob Scherer, Tyson; Justin Smith, Kansas State Veterinarian; Keith York, Wisconsin Livestock ID Consortium; Jarold Callahan, Express Ranches; Cody James, International Livestock Identification Association.

Sarah Tomlinson, DVM, government liaison, USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services, is a non-voting member of the council.

Source: NIAA, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


MIDDAY Midwest Digest, July 1, 2019

Several states implemented gas tax increases today.

Bayer has hired a new lawyer with a reputation for dealing with large product liability lawsuits.

Southern Illinois University offered one of the first motorcycle safety classes in the country. 

A long-time Colorado fire tower lookout man has retired at the age of 87. He spotted more than 200 fires in his years of service.


Photo: fredrocko/Getty Images


7 tips for hiring new employees

stefbennett/Stock/Getty Images dairy cow eyes closeup_stefbennett_iStock_Getty Images-646927608_0.jpg

The public outcry following the utterly vile animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farms, perpetuated by multiple ex-employees and videotaped by an animal rights activist group, has died down in recent weeks.

Yet, even as the dust has settled on this scandal, I’m mindful of what it means for the rest of us as producers.

After all, Fair Oaks does an incredible job of advocating for agriculture. They have created an agri-tourism business on their farm that gives visitors an inside glimpse of how their milk gets from the cow to the refrigerator. As a result, they were a likely target for animal rights extremists.

Yes, being an advocate and providing transparency to the general public does create some vulnerabilities.

Additionally, any time you hire employees or outside help to work your agricultural enterprise, you are vulnerable to people who don’t have the best intentions — for you or your animal.

We saw this play out at Fair Oaks, where activists gained employment with the intention of creating and capturing drama and abuse on film. Even though there is evidence that the activists staged the animal abuse solely to make the video, the fact remains that they somehow got hired.

Meanwhile, based on the video footage of the abuse, it was quite obvious that Fair Oaks was absolutely correct in firing these employees, who most certainly should not be working around livestock.

How do we avoid these abusers, liars and activists with a cause from trying to gain employment at our agricultural outfits?

It starts with carefully reviewing applicants. Easier said than done, of course, especially if the potential employee fabricates information on his/her resume. However, the Animal Agriculture Alliance recently shared tips for selecting strong candidates for your ranch payroll.

In a recent press release, the Animal Agriculture Alliance said, “Are the employees working on your farm there to help care for your animals? Do their goals align with your business? Unfortunately, it’s a common strategy for some animal rights activist organizations to have individuals go ‘undercover’ on farms to record videos that can be taken out of context, stage scenes of animal mistreatment or encourage abuse to record it without doing anything to stop it.

“While the first step to take is always ensuring that your animal care practices are beyond reproach, the Animal Agriculture Alliance also advises farmers and ranchers to be very vigilant in their hiring processes to ensure that everyone hired is there for the right reason – to provide care to livestock – and does not have any ulterior motives that would distract from that.”

Here are seven tips from the Animal Agriculture Alliance to help you in the hiring process:

1. Screen thoroughly.

It is vital to thoroughly screen applicants, verify information and check all references, the organization says.

2. Look closely at identification.

The Alliance suggests, “Be cautious of individuals who try to use a college ID, have out-of-state license plates or are looking for short-term work.”

3. Ask tough questions in the interview process.

“During the interview, look for answers that seem overly rehearsed or include incorrect use of farm terminology,” the Alliance says.

4. Check social media.

“Search for all applicants online to see if they have public social media profiles or websites/blogs. Look for any questionable content or connections to activist organizations,” advises the Alliance.

5. Create an animal husbandry policy.

“Require all employees to sign your animal care policy,” says the Alliance. “Provide training and updates on proper animal handling training.”

6. See something, say something.

“Require employees to report any mishandling to management immediately,” says the Alliance.

7. Trust your gut.

“Watch out for red flags, such as coming to work unusually early or staying late and going into areas of the farm not required for their job,” says the Alliance. "Always trust your gut – if something doesn’t seem right, explore it further.”

Even if you need to hire someone quickly, don’t cut corners in the hiring process. Do your homework before adding someone to the payroll.

For additional farm security resources and background information on animal rights activist organizations, visit

If it can happen at Fair Oaks, it can happen anywhere. Be on the lookout for shady characters who may hurt your business and your livestock. Hire carefully, train thoroughly and work diligently to avoid opening your place of business to these bad actors.

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


Importance of supplementing trace minerals in beef cattle nutrition


While there are many beef producers that realize the value of incorporating performance trace minerals in their beef nutrition and feeding program year-round, some producers still leave these essential nutrients out during certain times of year due to logistical challenges. There are also some beef producers with the misperception that forages provide everything their animals need and will only supplement salt, if that. 

The fact remains, however, that for beef cattle to truly thrive and reach their full potential, they should receive optimal trace mineral nutrition throughout every production stage. Beef cattle encounter various health issues throughout the course of their lives. 

Why producers aren’t supplementing performance trace minerals year-round

For some beef producers, there are logistical challenges that lead to an absence of performance trace minerals in their beef nutrition and feeding program year-round, including challenges due to the land area that cattle are covering. This often happens during the summer months when cattle are grazing extensive range which can make supplementation difficult, but not impossible. 

During the busier times of year, such as when producers on a beef operation are baling hay, supplementing trace minerals is simply forgotten, even though cattle and supplement feeders are accessible. While it may seem simple, the easiest solution for this is to make sure the responsibility for supplementing trace minerals is assigned to a single person on the operation. This can help avoid miscommunication while feeders sit empty in the pasture and trace minerals are available in the shed or are a phone call away.

Calves are dependent on the trace minerals they get through gestation. Studies show an increase in the number of calves that are born with challenges, such as impaired or malformed skeletal structure when born from cows who were not supplemented with trace minerals, such as manganese, during gestation. 

Research shows that when cows are not supplemented with optimal trace minerals, their colostrum quality is reduced. This is a huge issue because colostrum is the only source of passive immunity a calf has early in its life. 

Some producers consider a performance trace mineral, like Zinpro Performance Minerals® to be a reproduction mineral and will only supplement it with cows that are about to enter the breeding season, then pull it from their nutrition after they are confirmed pregnant. Often, early-to-mid gestation is the most forgotten phase. 

Performance trace minerals are critical in every production stage

Supplementing performance trace minerals in a beef nutrition program is important for every production stage, including before birth. Improving a calf’s ability to mount a robust response to an immune challenge allows for more nutrients and energy to be utilized for growth, production and reproduction. 

Research at Oregon State University showed that supplementing gestating beef cow diets with Availa®4 in the last trimester before calving helps provide the calf with essential trace minerals before it’s born. This is especially important because milk and colostrum are inadequate sources of trace minerals for nursing calves. 

The study showed a 53-pound increase in weaning weights of calves from beef cows supplemented with Availa-4 in the last trimester.


In addition, calves fed Availa-4 during a 28-day receiving period had 45 percent reduction in morbidity and a 9 to 13 percent increase in average daily gain. Additionally, feeding Availa-4 in the starter period and Availa®Zn in the finishing period improves the average daily gain in the feedlot by 6 percent and improves feed conversion by 4 percent. Feeding performance trace minerals has also been shown to help reduce the incidence of foot rot by 30 to 57 percent. 


Studies also show that feeding performance trace minerals has a positive impact on beef cattle reproduction. Supplementing bull diets with Availa-4 resulted in semen that was more motile, and supplementing cow diets resulted in conception rate improvements of more than 14 percent. 


Education is key for performance trace mineral nutrition

Education is key to raising awareness about the importance of feeding performance trace minerals to help improve beef nutrition year-round and in every stage of production. 

A 53-pound increase in weaning weight, a 45 percent reduction in morbidity, a 6 percent increase in feedlot average daily gain and a 14 percent boost in conception rates all have a positive impact on your beef operation’s bottom line. Zinpro Performance Minerals provide a solid return on investment. Making an investment in year-round supplementation of performance trace minerals can help boost annual income for beef producers. 

Learn more about the importance of supplementing beef cattle nutrition with Zinpro Performance Minerals®: Read about Zinpro Lifetime Performance® for beef.

Fluke control — Time it right


In the Arkansas River Valley, Cy Shurtleff, DVM at Morrilton Veterinary Clinic in Morrilton, Arkansas, has identified liver flukes as the culprit in poor-doing cattle more often in recent years.  

But effective liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) control can often be challenging: Flukicides only kill adults. 

Fortunately, there is an opportunity to catch the adult flukes before they begin laying eggs. Unfortunately, this window of opportunity is small. It takes 10-12 weeks from the time fluke larvae are ingested until they become adults. New larvae availability stops for a few months as snails go dormant into the mud. But then, the fluke cycle and transmission will start again. 

When and where:
For effective fluke control, you need to time treatment when snails are dormant in the mud and adults are most prevalent — thereby, breaking the fluke life cycle. This is primarily summer, mostly August and September, for producers in Gulf Coast states, and, for producers in the Pacific Northwest region, treatment should occur three months after the wet areas dry up. This is because it takes three months for the immature flukes to mature in the animal. This visual outlines timing considerations for the Gulf Coast region. 

Liver flukes tend to be more prevalent in these regions because of geography. Mild and wet spring and fall weather brings larger amounts of water and snail populations. The common liver fluke is a parasite that requires water and a snail host to complete its life cycle. 

“We’ve been running fluke finder tests because we’ve seen cattle that do not seem to be responding to dewormers as well,” Dr. Shurtleff said. “We realize flukes are out there because we are in an area that’s wet most of the year, and fluke finder is an easy test we can run in-house. It’s only a 10-minute test to run, so you can do several fairly easily.”

In addition to slower response to treatments, liver flukes can cause: 
•    Lack of appetite
•    Pain in cattle in early infection stage
•    Slow, steady weight loss

If you’re in one of these regions, or if you have cattle grazing coastal areas or river bottom pastures, work with your veterinarian to learn if flukes might be an issue and to develop an effective control program. If you’ve had a problem identified in the past, it’s important to continue control measures in subsequent years as conditions may continue to support the fluke life cycle.   

You have a window of opportunity to break the fluke life cycle with a product that is labeled to help remove and control adult liver flukes at the right time. If you use a product that helps control liver flukes in addition to other major parasitic worms you need to control, then you won’t have to add another product into your rotation. 

Flukes are one challenge, but they aren’t the only challenge you might have. 

“In our area, we have about 10 months of possible parasite transmission,” Dr. Shurtleff said. “A lot of years, we do not get our first heavy frost until late November or early December, so cattle and young calves are starting to graze at that time and they're picking up parasites. Parasite control is the cornerstone of our herd health program at our clinic. If animals are being challenged by parasites, even the greatest vaccine program in the world will fail.” 

For more information and about solutions from Zoetis, visit  

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Farm Progress America, July 1, 2019

Max Armstrong shares insight on the impact of the USDA report released last Friday. The report came in with a higher planted corn acre number than traders expected. Max offers comments from key traders who say a wide number of acres haven’t been planted; some claim that USDA isn’t factoring in prevented planted acres.

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: Willie Vogt