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U.S. Beef Availability Slowly Growing In Japan

Last week, Japan restaurant chain Zenshoku began offering dishes using U.S. beef at its 57 barbecue restaurants in Tokyo and 11 of the Japan's 47 prefectures. The move made the company the first major restaurant chain in Japan to serve U.S. beef since the government dropped its import ban in late July.

This week, Yoshinoya D&C Co. announced it will resume sales of "gyudon" dishes, a serving of hot rice topped with slices of U.S. beef, for the first time in 19 months -- for one day only -- on Sept. 18. The company will offer 1 million of the dishes at its outlets across Japan. Sources say the company will continue to limit beef bowl sales until it can secure a stable supply of U.S. beef. Yoshinoya has 1,010 outlets across Japan.

In addition, last Friday, regional supermarket operator Nalx became the first retailer in the country to put U.S. beef back on its shelves at its eight branches in Kanazawa. Company sales manager Miki Himoto said the fresh shipment, from National Beef Packing Co., "did much better than we had expected. Many customers welcomed the return of the U.S. beef, as it gives them a broader selection."

"Of course, there are customers who are still worried about the safety of American beef, and they have a right not to buy it," he said in a Taipei Times article. "As a retailer, we decided to sell U.S. beef because we believe it's our job to offer customers a choice."

Nalx is among five Japanese supermarket chains that have ordered U.S. beef through supermarket cooperative CGC Japan Co. Four other grocery chains are expected to soon start selling U.S. beef, the Kyodo News reports.

The report says major Japanese supermarket chains are taking a wait-and-see stance. Even Seiyu Ltd., the Japan unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., with about 400 stores nationwide, is on the sidelines. The only other retailer currently carrying US beef is Costco, which is selling U.S. product in five of its stores.

Meanwhile, the Japan Times reports Hong Kong may soon lift its ban on Japanese beef imports into the territory. The two nations are working out final details of an accord that would reopen trade since the market shut in September 2001 upon discovery of the first of Japan's 26 cases of BSE.

It's expected that Japanese exporters will begin shipping beef to Hong Kong in the fall, if Hong Kong is satisfied with inspection procedures and food-safety measures taken at meat-processing facilities in Japan, the sources said.
-- Joe Roybal

Switzerland To Ban Implanted Beef In 2007

Starting next year, Switzerland will ban U.S. beef, part of harmonizing its veterinary norms with those of the EU, which restricts product from growth-implanted cattle. About 300 tons of U.S. steaks and filets are sold to Switzerland annually, reports Lean Trimmings newsletter.
-- Joe Roybal

Fly The Flag On Monday To Honor The 9-11 Fallen

Calf marketing finds strength in numbers

Marketing calves in groups, rather than as individuals, can help command a higher price at the sale barn. That’s the finding of recent research presented by the University of Arkansas’ Tom Troxel, who evaluated factors that affected sale price of Arkansas beef calves as they were marketed in 15 Arkansas livestock auction markets in 2005.

Troxel reported on data from more than 100,000 head of calves sold in 52,401 lots. Several interesting price differences were noted.
• Calves selling as groups of six head or more brought $122.61/hundredweight (cwt.), while calves selling as singles sold for $117.26/cwt. This indicates producing uniform groups of calves that are marketed together has added value.
• Healthy-appearing calves of unknown “processing” brought $118.21, which was more than calves with “dead” hair ($105.55), stale-looking calves ($100.01), sick calves ($80.22), bad eyes ($104.39) or lame ($84.74) calves. However, if the calves were announced as “preconditioned,” they sold for a higher price ($122.36) compared to the healthy unknown ($118.21) calves.
• Polled calves still sell for more than horned calves by $3.70/cwt. and the difference between steers and bulls was $6.27/cwt.
• Very full or “tanked” calves were discounted about $10 to $17/cwt. compared to calves that appeared to have normal shrink.

Much of this data is consistent with information collected by eastern Oklahoma Extension educators in 1997 and again in 1999 from 14 Oklahoma auction markets. These researchers concluded that properly managed, process-verified calves sold in group lots bring home the most dollars.

Massey Ferguson’s New 3600 Series Tractors

Massey Ferguson's new 3600 Series tractors can be likened to the old fast food commercial, "have it your way." The 3600 Series is a totally new line of utility-size tractors, with a wide range of options that lets buyers configure their tractor just the way they want to use it, according to Mike Hanson, Massey Ferguson product marketing specialist.

"We are introducing three models, the 3625 at 55 PTO hp, the 3635 with 65 PTO hp, and the 3645 with 75 PTO hp," Hanson says. "But buyers can order tractors with any number of choices and options, from a configuration tractor up to a fully loaded model."

For example, the optional enclosed cab models feature a flat deck design, high visibility glass with curved rear windows, doors on both sides of the cab and front and rear work lights. Cabs are designed for operator comfort, with roomy interior, multiple HVAC vents, sun visor, left and right exterior mirrors, and radio antenna and speakers already wired-in. The operator seat is adjustable; an air-ride suspension seat is available as an upgrade. Cab models also feature a tilt and telescoping steering column, which is available as an option on open station or footstep models.

The 3600 Series tractors are powered by turbocharged 3-cylinder SisuDiesel engines, built in Finland . The 3.3 liter engines are designed for high-torque power application and long-running dependability. The 3645 tractor engine also comes with an air after-cooler which boosts power output from the 3.3 liter powerhouse.

Tractors come with either an 8x8 synchro shuttle transmission that features single lever forward and reverse operation, plus on-the-go shifting by just depressing the clutch, or an optional factory-installed 12x12 power shuttle transmission with 4 synchronized gears and 3 speed ranges. The 12x12 power shuttle includes 8 working speeds and 4 transport speeds, with a declutch button on the gear shift that lets the operator shift gears without depressing the foot clutch. The operator can activate the differential lock quickly with an electro-hydraulic push button on the control panel.

Buyers also can choose between 2WD with adjustable front axle, or 4WD that features an electro-hydraulic button on the console to engage front-wheel drive on-the-go. All 3600 Series tractors come with independent 540 rpm PTO or an optional two-speed 540/540 Economy PTO, which saves fuel by lowering engine rpm for light duty PTO applications.

3600 Series tractors come with Massey Ferguson's proven hydraulic system, including a 6.6 gpm steering pump and a 15.8 gpm auxiliary pump for remote power. Two remote valves are standard, with a third remote as an option. The three-remote valve option has one 3-position valve and two 4-position valves. A factory-installed loader joystick is another option, and comes with the required mid-mount valve and couplers. Custom-matched front loaders are available for each tractor, configured for Massey Ferguson's Quick-Attach System.

3600 tractors are fully equipped with a Category I and II 3-point hitch as standard, with lift capacity more than 2 ½ tons at the ball ends. An optional 3-point hitch comes with extendable lower links. The easy to operate 3-point hitch system gives the operator precision control of draft, implement position and rate-of-drop.

Servicing these new tractors is easy with the ground-level fuel tank and one-piece flip-up hood, for convenient access to the battery, radiator, air cleaner, oil and fuel filters. Cab models have a roof hatch for easy access to the air conditioning system and dual element cab air filters.

Folding ROPS for open platform tractors makes working easier in low-clearance areas. ROPS then can easily be placed into the upright position for operator safety. Tire options include agricultural, turf or industrial tires, and all models have a standard 7-pin outlet for trailer lights.

Visit http://www.masseyferguson.com for full details on Massey Ferguson 3600 Series Tractors.

Farm Safety For Kids

Some steps that can be taken to make your farm safer for youngsters:

1) Identify the danger areas on your farm. Determine where kids are most likely to get hurt, what may draw them to dangerous situations. Toddlers, for example, may ingest pesticides because of their curiosity and tendency to put things in their mouths. So keep those items locked up and out of reach.

2) Set up appropriate rules for children to follow.

3) Train youngsters in proper and safe operation of farm tasks before assigning those chores. Provide appropriate protective equipment/clothing for each task.

4) Supervise children according to their age. Children should demonstrate that they are able to follow farm rules before being allowed to perform tasks.

Prevent Overgrazing

Missouri's Maurice Davis, retired Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state grassland conservationist, says the most frequent grazing mistake he saw during his career was producers allowing livestock to graze pastures too short.

Grazing a pasture to the ground, either because it's overstocked or the livestock have been left there too long, "does not leave enough residual plant material to carry on photosynthesis," he says.

As a result, Davis says root growth stoppage begins. "That means top growth of the plant also stops," he adds. Specifically, research shows when up to 50% of a plant's leaf volume is removed, root growth stoppage is about 2-4%. If 60% of the leaf volume is removed, root growth stoppage escalates to about 50%. At 80% removal, the roots have no regrowth.

To prevent overgrazing, he suggests producers monitor when to move animals to new pasture based on residual plant material — the green stuff left after grazing.

Davis and most range managers advocate the rule, "take half and leave half," meaning once the forage has been grazed to about half its volume across the pasture, cattle should be moved to a new pasture.

Pastures can be grazed shorter, but then the rest period required for recovery becomes longer, Davis says. As a guideline on introduced pastures, he says plants should not be grazed below a minimum of 3 in.

Review Proper Injection Site Methods

One of the most important aspects of quality in our industry is performing injections properly. Veterinarians Mark Hilton and Mike Apley offer these basic guidelines:

Foremost, adequate restraint is a basic requirement. Every effort should be made to have the animal still when administering an injection.

Needle movement during intramuscular (IM) injections increases muscle damage, and could cause a significant portion of the injection to be deposited subcutaneously (SC). Movement during SC injections may lead to a significant portion of the injection ending up IM.

In either case, the result is a product in a different site than intended. This may affect efficacy and, in some cases, contribute to an altered withdrawal time.

The SC "ented technique,"where the skin is pinched and raised with one hand while injecting parallel to the hide with the other hand, should only be used when the animal is restrained in a squeeze chute or otherwise completely immobile.

For IM injections, the best way to learn the boundaries of the injection site triangle in the neck is to ask for an anatomy lesson from your veterinarian (especially during a necropsy) or attend an injection site demonstration.

If you’re giving IM neck injections in front of the head gate, you’re likely giving injections too far forward in the neck. Consider SC-labeled products whenever possible.

Separation between injection sites is as important as site selection. Moving the needle only an inch or two between sites essentially creates one big site. Moving a hands-breadth away for the next site is a good rule to follow.

Buying Quality Hay

Ryan Reuter, Noble Foundation livestock specialist, Ardmore, OK, offers these hints to ensure the hay you buy is a good value.

Buy dry matter (DM). Before you buy, have a test done to measure moisture content. Most hay will average 85-90% DM.

Next, determine the bale weight using a scale, then compare different hay sources on the basis of dollars per ton of DM, not dollars per bale.

Buy adequate quality. Determine the exact nutrient requirements for the class of animal that will consume the hay — heifers vs. cows, dry vs. lactating, thin vs. fat, etc. Then, buy hay that will provide at least that level of nutrition. Don't buy hay that will require supplement.

To determine hay quality, make the seller provide a lab analysis, or get a sample and run one yourself. Reuter says he's seen a $10 hay test save a cow-calf producer several thousand dollars.

Hay Harvest Costs Less When Animals Do It

A Purdue University specialist says livestock producers can save time and money by using nature's harvesting equipment - animals.

"Anything we do to allow our four-legged creatures to graze in a pasture beyond the traditional grazing season is a cost-effective approach," says Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage specialist. "By having the animals harvest the hay into December and, perhaps, January, producers can reduce the cost of delivering hay bales to them every day."

Forage "stockpiling" involves setting aside about 25% of a pasture around mid-August, he says, leaving it undisturbed to grow, while mechanically harvesting or grazing the other 75%. Stockpiling can be done when producers use a rotational grazing system, where pastures are subdivided into smaller units - or paddocks - and livestock are moved from one paddock to another to give grazed areas time to regrow.

Annuals planted after winter wheat grain harvest can be components of the rotational grazing system in the late summer and into the fall, as well, Johnson says. Typical annual forage choices include sorghum-sudangrass, sudangrass, pearl millet, spring oat and forage turnips. Producers should be cautious when livestock graze sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass in the fall because prussic acid, a toxic compound, will be released from freeze-damaged plant tissue.

Other points to remember when stockpiling forage include harvest timing and the dry matter needs of livestock. Producers should stop haymaking operations about 6 weeks before a killing freeze so forage can grow back and accumulate needed reserves for regrowth in the spring, Johnson says.

"Something that works well is allowing a hay field to grow its last crop and then bring in livestock for a post-dormancy grazing, instead of performing a post-dormancy harvest with equipment," he says.

How many days a paddock can be grazed depends on the amount of forage produced, each animal's dry-matter (DM) intake, and the number of animals grazing the paddock.

"It's not unusual for a cow that's just weaned her calf to require a daily DM intake of 2.5% her body weight," Johnson says. "So, for a 1,000-lb. cow, that's 25 lbs. of DM forage/day."

For more tips, visit www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/index.html.
-- Steve Leer, Purdue University ag writer