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Articles from 2016 In August

Fed cattle two frame scores apart have $200 difference

Ongoing trials at North Dakota State University have shown there was only $225 difference as finished cattle between calves with a 3.8 average frame score and a 5.5 average frame score.

Kris Ringwall, NDSU Extension beef specialist, published figures for these cattle, which are May-born calves overwintered and finished the following year.

Ringwall says, "Size discussions are vital within the beef industry because the challenge of surviving is real. Often, those discussions would imply that an absolute answer exists and making the wrong choice would be the demise of the producer's cattle operation. Wrong.

"Granted, traditional production of middle-of-the-road cattle and associated marketing paths are the comfortable travel routes for producers. This always has been true. However, producers realize very quickly that keeping a moderate-sized cow is not simple, and without appropriate selection, cattle size will stray.”

To read the entire article, click here.


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3 weaning methods compared; which one rises to the top?

3 weaning methods compared; which one rises to the top?

The old adage, “There is more than one way to skin a cat,” applies to weaning calves, as well.

There has been much discussion in recent years about the best way to wean calves. But any discussion about weaning needs to keep several considerations in mind, including: age of calves, low stress handling, whether you’re selling off the cow or planning to precondition and bunk break at home, available labor and time, quality of fences, location of the herd, etc.

Just as no two operations are alike, neither are the best weaning strategies for various operations; however, if we look at the pros and cons of weaning using various methods, there are some key differences to think about.

Steve Boyles, Ohio State University (OSU) Extension specialist, recently compared pasture weaning vs. drylot weaning in an OSU Beef Cattle newsletter.

Boyles looked at a recent study that compared three weaning methods for calves averaging 180 days old:

1. drylot weaning + complete visual and auditory separation from dams

2. pasture weaning + fence-line contact with dams

3. pasture weaning + fence-line contact with dams + supplemental feed delivered in a bunk

In the study, calves were weighed, given initial vaccinations, treated for parasites, given booster vaccinations 14 days later, and shipped to a feedlot at 28 days.

Boyles summarizes the results of the study, writing, “Body weight of drylot calves was greater than that of pasture weaning or pasture weaning plus supplement at the conclusion of the 28-day weaning period. This was expected since the diet for the drylot calves was formulated for higher gains. Providing supplement to pasture fed calves was intended to accustom pasture-weaned calves to eating out of a bunk rather than to promote gains that were competitive with drylot calves.”

Upon arriving to the feedlot 28 days post weaning, all three groups were studied, and Boyles writes, “Calves were observed at the time of feeding during the first 6 days of the receiving period in an attempt to ascertain their desire to eat from a bunk. A greater proportion of drylot than pasture weaned calves came to the bunk at the time of daily feed delivery during the first 5 days of receiving. Drylot calves had greater average daily gains than either pasture weaned calves to day 60 in the feedlot.”

While fence-line weaning has been largely supported and promoted by the industry in recent years, this study showed that drylot calves were just as healthy and were more eager to eat at the bunk upon arrival to the feedlot when compared to the pasture-weaned calves. However, Boyle notes that preconditioning management is not huge in the cow-calf sector with “49.8% of cow-calf producers selling their calves immediately after maternal separation.”

Looking at these calves to the finishing stage, Boyles writes, “Pasture-weaned steers gained body weight at a greater rate and had greater feed efficiency during finishing than drylot steers or pasture plus supplement steers. Body weight at slaughter was not different among treatments. Under the conditions of the current experiment, the pasture-weaned steers appeared to fully compensate for previous nutritional restriction during the finishing period. Moreover, USDA yield grade, marbling score, percentage of carcasses grading USDA Choice or greater, did not differ among treatments.”

What do you think about the results of this study, and what is your preferred weaning method? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.

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Is TPP more about control than trade?

Getty ImagesCameron Spencer
<p>Getty Images/Cameron Spencer</p>

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been pushed for months now by many agricultural groups as a great boon to all ag industries. But after months of study I have concluded it is far more damaging than beneficial.

First, it's my estimation the actual gains appear small and slow to come. An example is in this USDA publication which specifically mentions trade with Japan. It says Japan will eliminate duties on 74% of its beef and beef product imports within 16 years, with substantial cuts to the remaining tariffs.

Note the length of the timetable, however. Most of the Japanese tariffs are to be reduced significantly or eliminated within 13-16 years. If we think of this as an investment such as we would make on the farm or ranch, is that a good one? How many business investments do you make that don't pay off for 16 years? Even most cows supposedly pay off by the sixth year.

More importantly, Japan has the right under TPP to maintain restrictive import quotas on at least 33 classifications of agricultural goods, so this is no true clearing of the deck.

I wonder what the Japanese agreements might net for U.S. beef producers, considering Japan was recently listed as the largest importer of US beef products at $1.6 billion.

In August just gone by, USDA said farmers (everyone below the packer) were getting 42% of the retail beef value and that percentage is dropping steadily. In addition, the wholesale-to-retail spread has been increasing steadily from about $1.20 per pound in 2000 to $2.50 per pound in 2015, and the farm-to-wholesale spread has been and continues a flat trend, varying from 25-50 cents.

So if we assume for a moment that TPP supporters and the USDA are using retail values for beef, then that 42% of retail price would be $672 million total value for farmers. If we increased our take by an average of perhaps 15%, assuming that might be a reasonable improvement in our pricing after tariffs were gone or fully reduced, then we might see an additional $100 million here at home, distributed in typical crocodile-feeding-frenzy fashion among the three sectors of the beef industry. With USDA's count of 915,000 beef farms, that's about a dollar per operation, or with 30 million cows, that's about $3.30 per cow.

But I expect that is wishful thinking, as the top dogs usually eat more and let only the smallest scraps filter down the food chain; remember the shrinking farm-to-retail and farm-to-wholesale spreads.

Worse however, are these facts: TPP robs the ability of nations, including the United States, to make their own deals, and it puts their fates in the hands of international tribunals, and that it gives immense power to corporations to control the trade decisions of nations through lawsuits and other means.

First and foremost, TPP is an attack on our sovereignty. This means U.S. citizens are the only people in the world who were truly put in charge of our own affairs. Sadly, we have squandered our rights and frittered away our power, handing it over to the elected and bureaucratic megalomaniacs who we foolishly call "leaders," and to the big money that buys them. All these people are in cahoots to give themselves the ultimate power and control. It's Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged in real life.

An excellent article in The American Thinker last fall noted the 5,544-page TPP document contains seven things which have little to do with trade and everything to do with world government and cronyism:

  1. A legislative body superior to Congress
  2. A vehicle to pass Obama’s climate-change treaty
  3. Increased legal immigration
  4. Reduced patent protection for U.S. pharmaceuticals
  5. Quotas on U.S. agricultural exports
  6. Increased currency manipulation
  7. Reduced U.S. power and self rule

An example is in Chapter 10, which calls for the opening of U.S. borders to foreign service companies that want to bring foreign workers with them to provide services in the U.S. Chapter 12 calls for the opening of U.S. borders to any foreign professionals they bring in. Chapter 12, "Temporary entry for business persons," provides that visas must be supplied to the professionals being brought into the country by these service companies and that they must be allowed to bring their spouse and children with them.

But under the appendices to Chapter 12, almost all of the other countries participating in the TPP limit immigration to certain professions and limit the length of stay of these "temporary" workers. For example, Japan limits entry to businessmen, specific professions and to technicians who have the equivalent of a Japanese associate's degree. It also limits the amount of time that they can stay in the country to five years. No such appendix appears for the United States.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said just days ago only five of 30 chapters deal with trade, and an examination of the table of contents and chapter summaries shows this is a fair assessment. The rest of TPP regulates an unimaginable number things, including the internet.

Paul Craig Roberts, an economist, journalist and former assistant secretary of the treasury for economic policy for President Reagan says one of the primary functions of TPP is to set global corporations above the laws of the nations where they operate.

William F. Jasper in The New American said much the same: "The real agenda behind the TPP is to consolidate and centralize economic and political power. The main organizing entity behind the TPP agenda is the secretive Trilateral Commission ... intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests by seizing control of the political government of the United States."

If you want to read more about TPP, remember everyone you read is biased and you'll have to filter through all that and try to discern the truth. Notice, too, that I put a link to the actual TPP document at the beginning of this blog, should you want to read through more than 5,500 pages.

Come to think of it, that should be reason enough reject the agreement.

The article in The American Thinker I quoted earlier says, "The only truly redeeming option of the TPP is that we can easily get out of it ... any country can withdraw from the agreement, simply by giving six months notice."

But I have a better idea. Let's demand Congress throw the damned thing in the incinerator where it belongs. Then we can work on real trade deals instead of setting up international governments.

More TPP links you might want to read:

(This list is corporate entities given early access to TPP)

Political donations to US congressional members:

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Big feeder cattle gain value

The value of heavy feeder cattle versus lighter feeders has been growing the past couple months for several reasons.

One reason is the desire by feedlots to turn over cattle more quickly, says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist. He adds that higher value on heavier cattle suggest cow-calf operators may want to retain ownership through the stocker phase to add income.

Peel notes the August USDA Cattle on Feed report shows an August 1 on-feed inventory of 10.165 million head, 101.6% of last year. July marketings were 99.3% of one year ago while placements were 101.6% of last year. With two less business days this year compared to 2015, these numbers suggest a continued brisk pace of both placements and marketings. The desire to increase feedlot turnover means that feedlots continue to demonstrate a preference for heavy feeder cattle. Since placements began increasing in February, placements of feeders over 700 pounds have increased over 11%, year over year, while placements of cattle under 600 pounds are down nearly 6% compared with the same six months last year.

To read the entire article, click here.

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Activist faces jail time for offering water to pigs in a trailer

There’s an unprecedented trial happening this week, where the fate of animal rights activist Anita Krajnc will soon be decided and the definition of livestock could be altered forever.

Krajnc, a member of the animals rights group called Toronto Pig Save, is facing six months in jail or a $5,000 fine over charges of criminal mischief after she gave water to pigs being transported to a local slaughterhouse.

What she calls an act of compassion in her mission to defend these animals as “individuals not property,” is clearly, in my mind, in violation of the law.

READ: Pig owner testifies at trial of animal rights activist, says he was concerned about safety

What if someone opened up your car door and gave an unknown substance to your pets sitting in the backseat after they presume you aren’t properly taking care of them? The same principle applies here. The trailer and the livestock on it are in the care of the trucker who is working on behalf of the owner of these hogs. His job is to water the animals before and after transit, and anything offered to these pigs through the slats of the trailer should be considered a contaminant. He was right to question whether the bottle contained water or not and to repeatedly ask her to stop.

Toronto Pig Save has posted a video that they shot of the exchange, and while they are urging folks to see the crime as a compassionate act, I hope consumers aren’t fooled by this violation of privacy and property.

Livestock producers do not lack compassion. On the contrary, I would argue that those who manage livestock are more caring to animals than animal rights activists, who would prefer to have cattle, hogs and chickens become extinct instead of allowing them to thrive under the care of a rancher.

The opposing side would argue that a life that ends in the meat case is no life at all; however, I also don’t believe these folks understand and appreciate the circle of life, and their hypocrisy knows no bounds as they are likely to be using animal by-products on a daily basis, even if they abstain from eating meat.

READ: Farmer tells court he worried there were contaminants in water given to pigs by activist

This case is troubling, to say the least, because it’s a slippery slope if the courts decide she was in the right to offer these pigs water. That sets a precedent and gives momentum to the animal rights movement, where soon animals could be considered equal to humans—with rights of their own. If activists have their way, Americans will no longer be able to own dogs, cats, horses or even cattle. We’ve seen what happened when horse slaughter was banned in the U.S. because activists argued that they were more of a pet than livestock, and I fear it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m not fear mongering in this post, but I do believe the agricultural industry needs a wakeup call. There are people out there, like Krajnc, who have no qualms about violating the law, entering private property and handling your livestock as she sees fit. If that’s not a scary thought, I don’t know what is.

If you would like updates on the trial and to read the online commentary on this issue, follow the hashtag #pigtrial.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.

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6 Trending Headlines: R-CALF seeks to end checkoff; PLUS: How to prevent bloat on fall pastures

Is the future of the beef checkoff in jeopardy? That and more awaits you in this week’s Trending Headlines.

4 articles to kick off your Monday morning

The BEEF Daily blog aims to provide timely information for beef producers to think about Monday through Thursday. Today’s blog is a roundup of recent articles that are worth a second glance, so grab a cup of coffee and browse through these headlines to kick off your Monday morning.

1. “NASA Shock Study: Antartica is growing not shrinking”

Since beef production is often the punching bag of climate change conversations, I’m always interested in reading articles that debunk the entire theory of climate change altogether. James Delingpole for Breitbart shares a recent NASA study that shows Antarctica is growing instead of shrinking like Al Gore might want us all to believe.

2. “Farmers and futurists ponder how to feed 9 billion people” by Michigan State University Extension

Randy Bell writes, “While 2050 is 37 years away, we might stop and consider the question, “How will this affect the food system from which I get my food?” The UN predicts that most of the world’s growth during this time will come from countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America. However, demand for food from these high-growth countries will be felt in our local communities, too. Farmers in the United States that produce high volume grain crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans sell their products to a world market that is unconcerned with geographic boundaries.”

3. “‘Field to Fork’ teaches foodies where food comes from” featured on FOX9

Common Ground Minnesota, a group of women who advocate for agriculture, hosted a dinner with consumers to answer food production questions over a great tasting meal.

4. “Community is served” by FFA New Horizons

While agriculture tackles the challenge of feeding a growing planet, learn how these FFA members are making a difference in their own communities. Here’s an excerpt from the article: “While many FFA chapters participate in community service activities that support local or national organizations, members of the Dripping Springs FFA Chapter in Texas went above and beyond, forming their own nonprofit, public charity. FFA members Grace and Faith Baxter combined their love for agriculture with a desire to help fight hunger, and the result is Center of the Plate, which was founded in January 2016. Center of the Plate is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public charity with the mission of providing animal protein to families in need in the Dripping Springs community.” 

Check out tomorrow’s Trending Headlines compiled by Burt Rutherford for additional up-to-date news and information for today’s beef producers.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.

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New trade show coming to Charlotte in 2017

Hopper Expositions, Inc. has announced that it has a new Trade show in Charlotte, NC called the Charlotte International Equestrian Trade Show.  This will be a full Western and English Trade Show.

The first show will be February 18-20th, 2017, at the very lavish Charlotte Convention Center at 501 South College Street, Charlotte, N.C.

With this new venue, there will be warmer winter temperatures, a beautiful international airport, many incredible hotels within walking distance, gourmet caterers at the convention center and a beautiful facility. 

The exhibit space contract, floor plan and buyer registration is available now online at

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American Equestrian Trade Assn. takes over AETA Show

The American Equestrian Trade Association (AETA) has announced that it will no longer partner with Hopper Expositions, Inc. for production of the AETA International Trade Show.

According to AETA Board of Directors President Kelly Herd, "AETA Board of Directors is in full agreement that the dissolution of the relationship presents our organization and the industry with an excellent opportunity!"

AETA, which is a non-profit organization run by its members who are in the equestrian trade, will take full control of the AETA International Equestrian Trade Show. It will hold the show January 28 - 30, 2017 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA.

"We are now in a position, like never before, for members of the trade to control our own destiny," explains Herd. "We finally have the opportunity to produce a show that will truly benefit the industry - by the members for the members. Moving forward, the AETA International Trade Show will now provide money back into the equine industry. We are excited to be able to move forward with an event that is beneficial for our industry," he said.

AETA will now be in full control of the AETA International Trade Show brand, schedule, location, programming, development and future. "We look forward to partnering with our members and the industry to bring a more modern and innovative era to the AETA International Trade Show," said Herd, who pointed out that with the elimination of the "middleman," the costs of the show will be more affordable including reduced booth costs.

Retailers who attend the show will still be able to enjoy exclusive AETA benefits, like the Golden Ticket which pays for a one complimentary night hotel stay per show; as well as, the AETA Bucks program which gives AETA member retailers $250 to spend at each show, subsequently bringing hundreds of thousands of buying dollars to each show. AETA is also excited to announce the newest benefit, AETA University, a FREE comprehensive educational program for attendees that will be held at the show. Herd says that member benefits will continue, and grow and attract more exhibitors and buyers to the AETA trade show.