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Articles from 2006 In September


Kentucky’s CPH-45 program

Over the last three decades across Kentucky, CPH-45 (Certified Preconditioned for Health) calf sales have become highly-regarded as a source for premium feeder calves. The sales, which are hosted by groups of producers across the state and must be sanctioned by the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, Kentucky Department of Ag, and the University of Kentucky, require consignors to follow strict animal health and handling guidelines so that only quality calves are included in the offering.

Statewide about 50,000 head of Kentucky feeder calves are sold through the CPH-45 sales annually, with many of them consigned by small producers.

“We are in a region where many cowherds are 30 to 50 head. Consigning to the CPH-45 sales helps put attractive lots together,” says Kevin Laurent, a beef extension associate at the University of Kentucky, who works closely with Kentucky’s successful CPH-45 program.

The sale offering of certified calves has helped position Kentucky as a major source of feeder calves for the beef industry. And, interest from buyers and sellers appears to be growing every year.

Laurent estimates that enrollment in the CPH-45 sales can help producers garner an extra $50/head above the cost of vaccination. He attributes that value to the added gain preconditioned calves have going into the sale and the attractive package they offer to buyers in the form of reduced health risks.

CPH-45 Health & Management Requirements
To qualify for Kentucky’s unique program:
1. Animals must be owned by the seller a minimum of 60 days.
2. Sellers must be Beef Quality Assurance certified.
3. Calves must be weaned a minimum of 45 days; trained to eat from a bunk and drink from a trough; offered a free choice trace mineral supplement; dehorned; treated for grubs and lice; dewormed with an endectocide a maximum of 60 days before the sale; vaccinated for Clostridia (7-way) subcutaneously in the neck; vaccinated and boostered for IBR, PI3, BVD, BRSV; and identified with an official Kentucky CPH-45 tag.
4. Males must be castrated and healed. Heifers are guaranteed open at time of sale.
5. All processing must be recorded on a body map and chart on the CPH-45 certificate.

Laurent sees enrollment in such certified programs growing, namely because it dovetails nicely with animal I.D. for producers. He reports that several of their state sales are taking the next step and becoming PVP certified because the preconditioned cattle meet the health, source and age requirements that buyers are looking for.

Annually, the CPH-45 program hosts several sales from August through November. They’ve even added a summer sale in July to help accommodate fall calving herds. Laurent says many of their producers are moving to fall calving, so the July sale was designed to fit their needs. A bred heifer sale was also held in May through the CPH-45 program to help facilitate some of the newly established fall herds.

The last CPH 45 sale for 2006 will be November 6 at Mt. Sterling, KY. For more information visit www.cph45.com.

National Farm Transition Network offers help for beginning farmers

For individuals looking to start their own farm or ranch operation, there is a network of state programs that exist designed to help. Headquartered at Iowa State University, the National Farm Transition Network (NFTN) is an umbrella effort for various state programs throughout the U.S. that link farmers who have no returning heirs with beginning farmers looking to enter production agriculture. Some states also offer seminars on succession planning for young people returning to family farms and ranches.

As an example, Iowa’s Beginning Farmer Center (www.extension.iastate.edu/bfc/) was established by the Iowa legislature in 1994 with the aim of encouraging new farmers. Today, they offer two primary programs: the Farm On program matches unrelated parties of retiring and beginning farmers. The AgLink seminar helps guide families with the planning process to transfer the farm to the next generation.

Mike Duffy, an Iowa State University Extension economist, has directed Iowa’s Beginning Farmer Center since it was established and reports that both Farm On and AgLink are making in roads to securing the future of agriculture.

Similar to Iowa’s efforts, Minnesota is reaching out to ag enthusiasts through the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings Program now entering it’s tenth year. The program was initiated in 1996 when a group of established farmers were concerned by the number of young people leaving rural areas. “These established farmers wanted to help young people find opportunities in agriculture,” says Karen Stettler, current coordinator of the Minnesota Farm Beginnings Program.

Working with Land Stewardship, a private non-profit membership organization in Minnesota devoted to local, sustainable farming, the Farm Beginnings Program was created as a 10-month course for individuals with a passion for getting started in agriculture. The next Farm Beginnings Programs will start in late October 2006 in Minnesota. One course will headquarter out of Winona, MN, (contact Karen Stettler at 507-523-3366) and the other course will headquarter at Hutchinson, MN (contact Amy Bacigalupo at 320-269-2105).

The course (which has a fee of $1,000) includes seminars – taught by established ag producers – on everything from networking to goal setting and financial planning. Then the course concludes with farm tours, working experiences and one-on-one mentoring between students and producers. Stettler reports that over 260 people have graduated from the first nine classes, with over 60% of those graduates now engaged in agriculture from beef and dairy operations to raising goats and cut flowers.

She reports that Minnesota is also working to pilot Farm Beginnings programs in Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska. The 10-month Nebraska course will also begin in late October, for information call 402-584-2234 or visit http://www.farmbeginnings.org.

To learn more about the National Farm Transition Network and links to the states it has programs in visit:
http://www.farmtransition.org/homepage.html

Beef Prices--Volume Push Market Down

Between sharp reductions in boxed-beef prices and the CME's midweek nosedive, fed-cattle prices lost $1-$2 on the week at mostly $88-$89. Throw in auction volumes 68% larger than the previous week (303,000) and the feeder-cattle market was called weak to $3 lower.

That said, Ag Marketing Service reporters explain, "Demand remains good for all classes of feeders, especially for true yearlings and longtime-weaned calves which are quickly becoming the minority in offerings to increasing numbers of un-weaned calves."

Moreover, the most recent data from the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) underscores the added pressure higher feeder costs are adding to fed-cattle breakevens compared to a year ago.

"According to the July data, feedlots reported the average cost of gain for steers at $52.62/cwt., $2.53/cwt. higher than in 2005 and nearly 7% above the 2000-2004 average," say LMIC analysts. "The cost of gain for heifers was $57.14/cwt. vs. $53.58/cwt. last year and $3.92/cwt. higher than the prior five-year average. As of mid-August, feedlots reported a corn price of $2.60/bu., 9¢/bu. higher than last year but slightly less than the prior month. The mid-month price for ground alfalfa hay at $116.96/ton was over $41/ton higher than last year and the highest monthly price reported thus far in the series (began in July 1992)."

Find more details about the LMIC report at www.lmic.info.

The summary below reflects the week ended Sept. 15 for Medium and Large 1 -- 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb., and 700- to 750-lb. feeder heifers and steers (unless otherwise noted). The list is arranged in descending order by auction volume and represents sales reported in the weekly USDA National Feeder and Stocker Cattle Summary:

Summary Table
State Volume Steers Heifers
Calf Weight 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs. 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs.
TX 40,500 $122.74 $119.48 $109.74 $115.62 $111.00 $113.17
MO 38,500 $134.55 $128.98 $121.04 $122.03 $120.27 $113.86
OK 36,900 $132.69 $125.28 $121.67 $121.13 $115.24 $112.39
KY* 24,800 $120-129 $108-118 $105-1155 $107-117 $100-110 $94-1055
Dakotas 21,900
South Dakota
North Dakota

$144.74
**

$130.47
$123.202

$124.15
$122.82

$129.25
**

$121.074
**

$116.42
$110.20
AL 19,200 $117-126 $111-117 $102-1095 $108-116 $101-108 $89-995
TN* 14,000 $121.21 $114.04 $107.78 $110.74 $103.97 $98.974
NE 12,100 $141.95 $122.182 $123.27 $128.20 $120.944 $116.91
FL* 11,600 $100-120 $98-106 $90-103 $90-112 $93-103 $94-1044
MS* 10,500 $115-1251 $105-115 $100-1154 $105-1101 $95-105 $90-954
GA*(***) 10,200 $105-129 $100-120 $95-1036 $100-122 $92-110 $90-1074
KS 9,300 $132.24 $126.15 $119.85 $124.08 $115.67 $112.36
AR 9,000 $122.71 $114.69 $109.34 $111.54 106.31 $101.03
LAND 8,000 $105-125 $103-1202 ** $100-116 $98-1182 **
IA 7,600 $138.82 $134.80 $126.01 $129.09 $120.72 $118.20
Carolinas* 6,900 $102.50-125 $100-1173 $90-1085 $100-112 $86-106.50 $76-101.505
WY* 5,500 $136.43 $130.512 $119.13 $125.25 $119.162 $111.686
VA 5,200 $125.25 $118.52 $113.72 $110.82 $105.26 $102.15
CO 4,700 $134.26 $123.69 $121.44 $123.66 $122.812 $112.51
WA* 2,700 ** $118.292 $102.76 $111.24 $107.992 $98.61
NM 2,100 $122.05 $117.532 ** ** $111.572 **
MT 1,800 $135.57 $124.342 ** ** $119.232 $108.16

* Plus 2
** None reported at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
NDNo Description
1500-600 lbs.
2550-600 lbs.
3600-700 lbs.
4650-700 lbs.
5700-800 lbs.
6750-800 lbs.
7800-850 lbs.


Corn Pegged at 11.1 Billion Bushels

If USDA estimates are correct, this year's corn crop will be the second largest in history at 11.1 billion bu. That's according to last week's Crop Production report. View it at: usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/CropProd/CropProd-09-12-2006.txt.

The 11.1-billion-bu. estimate is 1% higher than the August estimate and would make for a crop fractionally larger than last year's.

The monthly report also lifted the estimate of soybean production for the year by 6% over August at 3.09 billion bu. That would also mean a larger crop than last year and the second-largest soybean harvest on record.

Overall, total hay production for the year is estimated at 7% lower than last year. Depending on where you live and how high the price is, that sure seems like a generous assessment.

For the week ending Sept. 9, according to National Ag Statistics Service (NASS).

  • Corn -- 91% is at or beyond the Dent Stage, compared to 88% last year and 81% for the five-year average. Progress is ahead of average in all states. Maturation is at 34%, the same as last year, but 2% ahead of normal. 6% is harvested, which is on par with last year and the five-year average. 59% is rated Good or better, compared to 51% last year.
  • Soybeans -- 27% of the acreage was at or beyond dropping leaves, 7% behind last year, but the same as average. 60% is rated Good or better.
  • Winter Wheat -- 9% of the crop is sown, 2% less than the same time last year and 3% less than average. Colorado is the furthest behind, 12% off the average pace.
  • Barley -- Harvest advanced to 97% complete, compared to 94% last year and 91% for normal.
  • Sorghum -- 96% of the acreage is in the heading stage, which equals last year and the average. Heading was complete or nearly complete in all states except New Mexico and Oklahoma. 72% was at or beyond turning color, the same as last year but 1% behind the norm. 36% is mature, compared to 33% last year and 38% for average. 33% is rated Good or better, compared to 47% last year.
  • Pasture -- 25% is rated Good or Excellent, compared to 32% last year. 24% is rated Poor and 23% is ranked Very Poor, compared to 23% and 13% respectively at the same time last year.
States with the worst pasture conditions -- at least 40% of the acreage rated poor or worse -- include: Alabama (65%); Arizona (58%); Arkansas (53%); California (67%); Colorado (44%); Kansas (43%); Mississippi (68%); Missouri (62%); Montana (61%); Nebraska (60%); Nevada (65%); North Dakota (64%); Oklahoma (70%); OR (48%); South Dakota (58%); Texas (77%); Wyoming (74%).

States with the lushest pasture conditions -- at least 40% rated good or better -- include: Florida (60%); Illinois (55%); Indiana (60%); Iowa (58%); Kentucky (61%); Maine (89%); Michigan (53%); New Mexico (60%); New York (65%); North Carolina (53%); Ohio (55%); South Carolina (48%); Utah (52%); Washington (40%); West Virginia (44%); Wisconsin (50%).

Mycoplasma Management Reminders -- Part II

With the fall run of calves knocking at the door, it pays to keep in mind management associated with a decreased incidence of mycoplasma (non-responsive pneumonia and arthritis). As researchers at Kansas State University (KSU) noted in the mycoplasma survey they conducted among stockers and backgrounders in 2001, "As mycoplasma appears to be an opportunist occurring most frequently during times of stress or when a calf's immune system is weakened, management programs should focus on those procedures that can get calves started out in the right direction."

Recommendations by KSU researchers include:

  • Don't feed poor-quality hay, or hay in a form not easy for incoming cattle to eat. The relationship between poor nutrition and increased susceptibility to disease has long been recognized. Feed intake during the receiving period is typically low which potentiates the stress effects of shipment, processing and illness (Hutcheson and Cole, 1986).

    Calves need a high-quality, palatable diet on arrival. A high percentage of survey respondents were using native-grass hay in receiving diets. Not all native-grass hay is created equal. In Kansas, forage quality deteriorates monthly from peak protein values in May and June until September with crude protein values declining from a peak of around 9% to 4% (Baker and others, 1999).

    The best way to know what you're feeding is to get your hay tested before the cattle start arriving. You can then build a receiving ration to match the needs of stressed cattle using a readily available hay commodity.

    Protein concentrations in the entire receiving diet should be in the 13.5-14% range. Limiting dietary protein can decrease immune function and increase susceptibility to respiratory pathogens. Calves already sick have decreased appetites and need additional protein in their diets to offset lowered intakes.

    If using native hay in receiving diets, feed it in a form that minimizes the amount of time a calf has to work at eating. Unbroken, large, round bales require a lot more effort to eat and may limit the number of calves eating at one time. Breaking hay out into bunk-line feeders and top-dressing the protein and energy portion of the ration, or using a complete ration during the first two weeks, will increase consumption.

  • Provide a trace-mineral program that meets or exceeds recommended allowances for the weight of calf purchased. A nationwide sampling of zinc content in forage samples found only 2.5% to have adequate levels of >40 ppm (Corah and others, 1996). It appears most pasture-management programs require some form of mineral-supplementation program.

    Several trace minerals, including zinc, are critical for proper immune-system function. If the likelihood of receiving cattle from an area where forage zinc is low isn't risky enough, zinc serum levels will also decrease during transportation and stress. In a recent survey of feeder cattle by the authors, serum zinc levels on arrival were found to be deficient in 35% of incoming cattle sampled. In the same operation, 30% and 55% of cattle sampled at first treatment or at re-pull for treatment, respectively, were found deficient. Cattle didn't appear to have serum zinc levels return to normal until more than 60 days in the feeding program, even though ration levels were adequate.

    Pasture mineral supplementation programs will carry over into the feedyard program (Greene and Chirase, 1998). In a Nebraska mineral-supplementation study, cattle receiving supplemental trace minerals (zinc, copper, manganese and cobalt) during the summer-grazing period had significantly fewer sick calves and fewer treatments per episode than unsupplemented cattle (Grotelueschen and others, 2001).

  • Get control of a respiratory disease early. Metaphylaxis is the group treatment of high-risk cattle with antibiotics before clinical signs of illness are present. The survey indicated a significant difference in the frequency of use on affected operations as compared to operations not receiving affected loads. That begs the questions: "Did it cause the problem?" or "Did they use metaphylaxis in an effort to prevent affected loads because they'd had affected loads before?"

    Neither question is answerable. In the final analysis, metaphylaxis didn't appear to play a significant role -- data suggests that within operations using metaphylaxis there didn't appear to be any relationship between affected loads and unaffected loads receiving the procedure.

    Metaphylaxis is a proven management practice to help reduce sickness, chronics and death loss rates in high-risk cattle. Its usefulness has been shown over many research trials and remains a practical management tool for targeted loads of cattle.

  • Minimize additional stresses at processing. If you can't buy steers and clean-headed cattle, delay those procedures for about 30 days post-arrival. Cramming them on top of everything else at arrival just adds to the stress load.
The complete survey is available at www.beefstockerusa.org.

USDA Extends CRP Grazing

If you're grazing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) ground, depending on where you live, you may have more time than the traditional emergency grazing deadline of Sept. 30.

On Friday, USDA announced an extended grazing period as late as Nov. 30 in some of the eligible states.

"Extremely dry weather conditions have created real hardships for farmers and ranchers in many parts of the country this year," says USDA Secretary Mike Johanns. "This emergency relief measure will provide feed and forage to producers who have lost hay stocks and grazing lands because of drought."

The 30 eligible states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

According to USDA, state Farm Service Agency committees and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state technical committees must agree on the need for the emergency grazing extensions before they're finalized. Once approved, producers in the 30 states may graze CRP land until the following dates in 2006:

Oct. 20 -- Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Nov. 10 -- Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Missouri, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

Nov. 30 -- Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

In mid-July, USDA announced the expansion of eligible CRP acreage for emergency grazing and haying in Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. The expanded area radiates 150 miles out from any county approved for emergency haying and grazing in any above-mentioned state.

Additionally, USDA says CRP rental payments will be reduced by only 10% instead of the standard 25% on CRP lands grazed in 2006.

In related news, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is giving producers more time to purchase livestock to replace what they had to sell due to the drought a few years ago.

"Some producers are coming to the end of their four-year replacement period," says Jason Jordan, National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) manager of legislative affairs. "This announcement means ranchers still dealing with horrific effects of the drought will not have to restock their herds until one year after the official end of their drought conditions."

Jordan explains a previous amendment to the Uniform Tax Code (supported by NCBA) extended the tax deferment period for weather-forced livestock sales, termed "involuntary conversions," from two years to four years. That same amendment also granted the Secretary of Treasury authority to further extend the deferral period.

According to NCBA, "IRS Notice 2006-82 explains how a taxpayer can determine whether additional time is available. In addition, the IRS plans to publish a list of counties that experienced exceptional, extreme or severe drought for the 12-month period ending Aug. 31, 2006."

Checkoff Task Force Issues Recommendations

The long awaited report included four recommendations for strengthening the beef checkoff program. The recommendations are:

  • An opportunity to petition for a referendum. The beef referendum process should be revised to provide producers the opportunity to petition every five years for a referendum on continuing the checkoff. Ten percent of beef producers signing the petition at county offices will trigger the USDA to conduct a vote within a year. This is similar to the soybean referendum model.

  • An adjustment of the checkoff rate. To assure strong demand-building initiatives for the beef industry in the future and to offset 20 years of inflation, adjust the per head checkoff rate to $2. The 50-50 split between state beef councils and Cattlemen's Beef Board would remain the same. The industry will need to approve any checkoff rate change through a referendum.

  • Enhanced understanding of the Federation of State Beef Councils. The Federation of State Beef Councils gives priority to enhancing its identity in order to strengthen beef industry stakeholder understanding of the Federation. Options such as changing its name from The Federation Division to The Beef Checkoff Federation could be considered.

  • Making the checkoff more inclusive. Any reference to the charter date of established national non-profit industry governed organizations be eliminated from definition (1260.113c) in the Beef Promotion and Research Order. This will make the checkoff program more inclusive.
The task force had 18 members representing all of the major industry groups, and the recommendations all passed by at least a 2/3 vote of the Task Force. These recommendations will now be presented to national and state beef organizations.

Cattle care and handling guidelines available

The Cattle Industry's Guidelines for the Care and Handling of Cattle is now available through the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). This 15-page Beef Checkoff funded publication includes sections on industry developed standards for feeding and nutrition, disease prevention practices and health care, transportation, handling downer cattle and euthanasia techniques and stress reduction. It also contains a self-evaluation for producers and their employees.

Included in the publication a Code of Cattle Care that lists general recommendations for care and handling of cattle:
· Provide necessary food, water and care to protect the health and well-being of animals.
· Provide disease prevention practices to protect herd health, including access to veterinary care.
· Provide facilities that allow safe, humane, and efficient movement and/or restraint of cattle.
· Use appropriate methods to humanely euthanize terminally sick or injured livestock and dispose of them properly.
· Provide personnel with training/experience to properly handle
· Make timely observations of cattle to ensure basic needs are being met.
· Minimize stress when transporting cattle.
· Keep updated on advancements and changes in the industry to make decisions based upon sound production practices and consideration for animal well-being.
· Persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated.

"With all the cattle care and treatment issues coming down the pike, it's very important that we distribute these guidelines as widely and as quickly as possible," says Ryan Ruppert, NCBA's director of Quality Assurance programs. "Producers need to be proactive in the of proper care and handling of cattle as activists and retail groups push for care and handling accountability at the farm, ranch and feedyard levels."

The cattle care publication can be obtained by contacting your state Beef Quality Assurance coordinator or state beef council. For more information contact Ryan Ruppert, 9110 East Nichols Ave., Centennial, CO, 80112 or call 303/850-3369.

CAB makes carcass spec changes with aim to enhance uniformity

Responding to beef industry changes and consumer demand, the Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) board of directors has voted to adjust Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand specifications.

In place of a longstanding Yield Grade (YG) 3.9 limit, the brand will use a more specific consistency requirement in the future. The board voted to adopt a ribeye size bracket of 10 to 16 square inches and a carcass weight cap at less than 1,000 pounds.

The CAB program will also evaluate limits on external fat thickness to refine compositional consistency. Before a final fat thickness recommendation is made, CAB staff will discuss plans with its licensed packers, review existing research and conduct cutting tests.

Regarding the changes, the CAB board points out that since 1978, the average weight of a U.S. beef carcass has increased by nearly 6 lb. per year, or 165 lb., while the initial YG 3.9 limit remained static. "That limit helped control carcass weight, ribeye size and external fat," said CAB president Jim Riemann. "It maintained a balance of those factors and allowed strength in one or two of those areas, but increasingly, outliers have set back our consistency goals."

"Yield grade is a cutability indicator for the packer, but it does not give us the product size and weight consistency our licensed retailers and restaurant operators need," said Riemann, who worked several years in the packing industry and as a meat scientist before coming to CAB.

The brand’s 2005 consist study of 26,700 carcasses at plants in four states found calculated YG 3 carcasses with a ribeye range of 6.9 to 19.0 square inches, and carcass weights of up to 1,169 lb.

"It makes sense to limit ribeye range and to control cut weights, as it does to investigate an appropriate fat thickness," Riemann said. "The idea is to achieve better control over consistency than yield grade currently offers."

The 2005 National Beef Quality Audit found the top concern of foodservice and retail customers (insufficient marbling) already met by the CAB brand. "This change would take aim at the next two on that list: cut weights too heavy and lack of uniformity," said John Stika, CAB vice president for business development. As carcass weights increased over the years, the static YG formula required ever-larger ribeyes.

For example, many 950-lb. carcasses with 14-inch ribeyes could not qualify for the brand under the YG specification —in some cases, CAB acceptance required a ribeye larger than 16 inches. Ironically, that’s too large to fit CAB foodservice demand. Meanwhile, selection, management and marketing continue to point toward larger cattle, and YG scores are already at a 20-year high.

The upper limit of <1,000 lb. is consistent with most value-based grids, Stika pointed out. What’s more, as a cutability guideline, the YG formula uses 15.8 inches as the base for that weight. That fits in the new specification window, he noted.

Muscling in Angus cattle has kept pace with the trend to heavier weights, but further pressure there could only lead to still heavier weights and ribeyes. "Adjusting our specification is a more appropriate way to address filling the box," Stika said. "We will lose at least 6% of the cattle that currently qualify for the brand, but pick up others better suited to the needs of our customers."

Limits on fat thickness will serve to eliminate the problem outliers. Investigating those limits should address cutability concerns not met by today’s fabrication styles and the other newly refined CAB specifications, he said. One key challenge: "There is an inconsistent relationship between trim fat and the kernel fat that has been a problem across all YG classes for all brands," Stika said.

"It will always be a challenge for cattle to meet the CAB marbling specifications, simply because the brand demands the best in Angus cattle," said Larry Corah, CAB vice president for supply development and packing. "That’s good news for Angus producers who focus their selection, management and marketing on the CAB brand standards: premiums should remain strong."

These changes could add value to some YG 4s on the product side, but YG 4 will not become a producer target, Corah explained. "Not with the feeding inefficiencies and a YG 4 discount at three times the value of a typical CAB premium. Angus producers will now have a ribeye target, rather than simply ‘bigger,’ and a logic for developing balanced growth and carcass genetic packages," Corah added.

Stika noted that CAB specifications have seen minor adjustments in the past, to better screen out dairy and bos indicus genetic types, and to reflect changes in technology and fabrication practices (see box). Just last summer, the Board voted to adjust the brand’s live specification to allow evaluation of all AngusSource® program calves, regardless of hide color.

The latest move ensures the brand’s leadership in providing foodservice and retail businesses with consistently superior beef, he said. CAB would be the first Angus brand to adopt a ribeye and carcass weight standard. Nearly three-quarters of Angus brands certified by the USDA have no yield or uniformity specification.

"When the overall industry changes and production signals run counter to what our customers want, it is incumbent upon us to act," Riemann said. "We all know the consumer is the source of all new dollars in the beef industry."

The brand’s executive team is expected to determine a back-fat recommendation by mid-November, Riemann said. The Board will then approve a final form of the new specification and petition the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the change. Riemann said CAB would work closely with USDA and licensed packers to ensure a smooth transition to using the new specifications at all licensed plants.

The Certified Angus Beef specifications are as follows:
· Premium, finer marbling to ensure great taste in every bite
1. Modest or higher marbling
2. Medium to fine marbling texture
· Youthful maturity for superior color, texture and firmness
3. “A” maturity (both lean and skeletal maturity)
· Uniformity in cut size and yield
Current 4: Optimum beef yield with Yield Grade 3 or leaner
Proposed 4: Ribeye area 10 to 16 square inches, carcass weight cap at 1,000 pounds and external fat limits
5. Moderately thick or thicker muscling
· Safeguards for tenderness and quality appearance
6. No neck hump exceeding 2 inches in height
7. Practically free of capillary rupture in the ribeye
8. No dark cutting