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8 new beef industry products to have on your radar

In the beef business, we're all about finding products that make us more efficient at our job. Here are nine new product releases to consider as you carry your operation towards the fall.

 

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Hereford associations, BioZyme Inc. launch "Feed the Future" program

The American Hereford Association is partnering with BioZyme Inc. and the Hereford Youth Foundation of America to launch the "Feed the Future" program on Sept. 1.

BioZyme Inc. will contribute $1 to HYFA through "Feed the Future" for every bag or tub of eligible Biozyme supplement bought by AHA members through 2017. Eligible products include ConceptAid®, Heat™, Cattleman's Blend™, the Mineral Lyk Tub, 30:13 Protein Tub™, Roughage Fortifier and Sure Start® Pellet.

"We are thrilled to be launching this new program with our longtime friends from BioZyme Inc.," said Amy Cowan, AHA director of youth activities and foundation. "They have supported the JNHE as our tittle sponsor and are taking their support to a whole new level. This program means big things for the Hereford breed."

To participate in the program, participants must take a picture of their invoice with eligible purchases and email a copy of the invoice to [email protected] or text a picture(s) of the invoice to 816-383-3109.

Money raised from "Feed the Future" will directly benefit Hereford youth through leadership and scholarship opportunities. For more information about the program, contact Erin Creason, BioZyme Inc. Inside Sales Coordinator, at 816-238-7084.

 

 

Update released to Merck’s to Beef Market Central app

Cattle producers now have three options – Select, Choice or Prime – for staying current on the cattle markets and industry news with the Beef Market Central™ mobile app update. The changes also include an enhanced real-time price index and market information, cattle market ticker and end-of-day cattle reports for an even better user experience. Users can download, update or upgrade Beef Market Central through mobile app stores (Apple and Android); new users can visit beefmarketcentral.com for more information. 

Like the first edition of Beef Market Central, the update was designed with extensive input from producers to help ensure easier access to the information they utilize most. Dusty Markham, commercial cattle business director for DVAuction, says producers involved in the daily business of buying and selling cattle, speak highly of the value Beef Market Central brings them. “Beef Market Central simplifies and expedites keeping up with the cattle market, while providing clarity on the current market trends. While they’re out checking cattle, they can look at the markets and catch up on business right there. That’s a huge benefit to individuals working in this industry,” Markham said. Producers can access any of the new versions from a computer in the office, or on a smart phone or tablet.

The Select option provides access to the futures markets, news and weather, while the upgrade to Choice – available by providing an email address and answering a few questions – delivers access to the latest national cattle prices and the cattle analyzer section. One Merck customers can utilize the Prime membership, which includes all of the real-time information: market summaries, the national feeder cattle ticker, sales reports, quick reports and the top daily sales. Prime also allows users to create and save custom reports.

Jim Miles, beef cattle marketing lead for Merck Animal Health, says the new update allows cattle producers to choose a version that’s right for them. “While Prime offers the complete package of features, some producers will find that the Select or Choice options will continue to meet their needs.” Miles says he hopes Beef Market Central will continue to serve as a valuable asset to producers across the country.  “We’ve tested this mobile app with hundreds of producers, and I always hear stories about how this is making it easier for producers to keep up with market information and organize cattle reports.”

 

 

Here’s why bunk management is important

“Feed bunk management is the daily opportunity for cattle feeders to influence and ensure top performance and profitability for their cattle,” said Marty Andersen, PhD, nutritionist for Zoetis. “It’s an important management component for cattle to achieve their best potential.”

While balancing multiple responsibilities, such as cleaning lots, prepping rations and caring for cattle, stop and analyze the health of your cattle feeding operation. With the warmer weather, are you adjusting feeding times and providing adequate access to water? Cattle produce incremental heat while consuming feed, so consider splitting rations across morning and night, away from the warmest times of the day to avoid heat stress. Access to water is important at all times, especially during summer months.

How much space per head do your cattle have in the bunk? Dr. Andersen recommends 12 or more inches of bunk space per head. In confinement barns, 12 inches of bunk space may not always be possible. In these situations, bunks should be managed to encourage feed intake, which means having fresh feed in front of the cattle for a majority of the day and cleaning bunks shortly before morning feeding.

How about broken bunks, cables and wires? Debris can deter cattle from the bunk and could cause additional expense from injuries, so keep safety at the forefront and repair bunks as soon as possible.

Make bunk cleaning a priority. Leftover feed can run the risk of weather damage and spoilage, attracting flies and other insects. Spoiled feed in the bunk can turn cattle away from feed. While it’s convenient to pour fresh rations on top of the spoiled feed, reconsider this practice. If the spoiled feed doesn’t deter cattle, they risk overconsumption and subsequent metabolic problems, such as bloat and acidosis, when their feed intake pattern is disrupted. Ideally, feed intake should be consistent. Moving cattle up on feed, ingredient changes and extreme weather can make bunk management difficult. Discuss strategies with your nutritionist and veterinarian to help cattle cope with these challenges.

Poor feed bunk management practices can result in inconsistent intake patterns causing reduced dry matter intake and lowered ADG by as much as 15%.1 When including ionophores, such as CATTLYST®, attentive bunk management practices and consistent feed intake and mixing are vital so cattle receive the appropriate amount to increase weight gain and feed efficiency.

Tips to improve bunk management:

  1. Provide an easily accessible and adequate supply of clean water to encourage feed consumption.
  2. Bunk space should be 12 to 24 inches per head to avoid overcrowding.
  3. Provide a clean concrete feeding pad with a depth of 8 to 12 feet for cattle to access bunks.
  4. Ensure proper weighing and mixing of feed ingredients, as well as consistent feeding times.
  5. Prior to the first feeding, evaluate and record feed consumption for each bunk. Base decisions to add or reduce feed call on the last five days’ feed consumption records.
  6. Clean feed bunks and waterers frequently, feed quality ingredients and avoid spoiled or damaged feed.
  7. Maintain a close working relationship with your nutritionist to monitor rations, ingredient moisture and quality.

“You have to pay attention to your cattle and know what’s going on in the pen,” said Dr. Andersen. “Look for unusual changes in feed consumption and monitor manure for loose, watery stools, a sign of acidosis. If things are abnormal in the pen, it’s time to start asking what’s wrong.”

For more information to improve bunk management on your operation, please contact your Zoetis representative or visit CattleFeedAdditives.com.  

Do not allow horses or other equines access to feeds containing CATTLYST. Do not use in animals intended for breeding.

 

Material on BEEF Briefing Room comes directly from company news releases. Source: Zoetis

 

Here’s what I like about ranchers: we’re winners, not whiners

Here’s what I like about ranchers: we’re winners, not whiners

I had one of those great phone calls last night. A rancher who has been building a cowherd for the last 50 years found himself at one of those milestones in life—it was time to sell the cows. 

The traditional route would have been to schedule a dispersal and watch a lifetime of work get scattered to the wind. Financially that is often the best decision, but at this point, it wasn’t about the money for him. 

He had two goals: keep the nucleus of the herd together and find the cattle a home with someone who shares a similar vision and continue his life’s work. And he would love for those cows to go to someone aspiring to make it in the cattle business. This individual has a long history providing support to the industry. He is at a point where he doesn’t want to be involved in the daily grind, but he has a stake in this industry and is committed to giving someone else the opportunity to follow in his footsteps. 

It will be a great opportunity for the right individual. Talking to this gentleman got me thinking, because he reflects a special attitude that is pervasive in our industry. He isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, whose biggest consideration when creating an exit strategy isn’t monetary, but rather making it possible for the next generation to continue in his footsteps.  

Ranchers have a unique blend of realism with optimism. They know the life isn’t for everyone, and that it is a very difficult path for anyone starting out on their own with nothing but a vision and a dream. 

Yet, they can’t imagine a better path for someone committed and passionate about taking it. Outsiders sometimes see ranchers as whiners or complainers. After all, we are always talking about weather or markets or beef demand; things that as individuals we have very little control of. 

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However, it is simply a façade. Most ranchers feel like they are some of the luckiest people on earth, but they just don’t want to appear overly happy. We all know we are optimists at heart; the rain will come or it won’t, the market will respond or it won’t, but it has very little impact on our direction or plan of action. The vision is clear and intact and we will adjust to whatever obstacles or opportunities that Mother Nature and the marketplace throws at us. We are characterized by an unwavering purpose and that is what makes ranchers winners not whiners. 

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Meat Market Update | Longer term forward contracts impact markets

Ed Czerwien, USDA Market News reporter in Amarillo, Texas, provides us with the latest outlook on boxed beef prices and the weekly cattle trade.

The weekly average Choice cutout was actually up $1.37 even though the daily Choice cutout was down 59 cents for the week. The big news was that there was 7,365 loads sold which was up 1,213 loads and this big increase was driven by out-front sales and exports. The out-front sales included a very big jump in longer term forward contracts that went from 160 loads the previous week to 767 loads.   

Find more cattle price news here or bookmark our commodity price page for the minute-by-minute updates.

49er Colin Kaepernick goes vegan; PLUS: How meat fuels our bodies and minds

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has had a tough week. His refusal to stand up during the national anthem before a recent football game has sparked a media storm that has both sides hotly debating his method for standing up for the Black Lives Matter movement.

While I was disappointed with Kaepernick’s choice to not honor the nation’s flag, the great thing about America is it’s his right to do so. I think his stance had good intentions behind it, but I have a hunch that the move was made more to create some buzz around his brand and regain some relevancy in the NFL since he hasn’t been starting this season.

So why has Kaepernick’s performance dropped lately? It might have to do with his choice to become a vegan. According to 49ersWebZone, “Kaepernick has given up all foods made from animals. He and his girlfriend, MTV personality and Hot 97 host Nessa, are both vegans now. Kaepernick has been noticeably smaller this offseason, something that has been criticized by the national media.

Granted he’s been struggling with injuries, but I imagine the lack of protein in his diet has interfered with his recovery and has resulted in some muscle wasting, as well. He told reporters earlier this summer that he is working to gain some weight back, which could be tough without the power of protein in real food like beef.

He might also be struggling with some B12 deficiency (a common occurrence for vegans), and if he was properly nourishing his body and mind, perhaps he would see that simply sitting down during the national anthem doesn’t spark positive change. I wish he could see that using his millions to fund a football camp for underprivileged children or donating to a worthy cause might be a better solution and more positive way to stand up for his convictions.

Veganism is almost like a religion to some, and I know these folks believe whole-heartedly that abstaining from meat helps save the animals and the planet. Obviously, I see the opposite side of the argument and have covered this topic countless times on the blog.

However, there’s something new to add to the discussion of the importance of red meat in the diet, and that’s a new study published in Nature magazine that discovered how the human brain evolved because our ancestors ate meat.

According to an article summarizing the study by Gary Truitt for Hoosier Ag Today, “The report stated that energy saved from less chewing and the calorie-rich, nutritious benefits of meat played a large role in the evolution of facial and dental sizes, speech production organs, locomotion, and perhaps the size of the human brain. According to the study, it was about 2.6 million years ago that meat first became a significant part of the pre-human diet. According to Harvard University evolutionary biologists Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman, the eating of meat is what made us develop into humans rather than root and berry eating animals. They suggest that it was having meat in our early diets that helped us move up the evolutionary chain. ‘A brain is a very nutritionally demanding organ, and if you want to grow a big one, eating at least some meat will provide you far more calories with far less effort than a meatless menu will.’

“The eating of meat has also contributed to man’s sociological development. In the book “Should Humans Eat Meat,” Vaclav Smil postulates that hunting and killing of large animals, butchering of carcasses, and sharing of meat have inevitably contributed to the evolution of human intelligence in general and to the development of language and of capacities for planning, cooperation, and socializing in particular.”

This study verifies what us beef lovers already know — beef is a health food that fuels our bodies and minds. Perhaps the California Beef Council should send some free steaks and brochures to Kaepernick. I hope he has a better week next week; I sure know a steak would make anyone’s day better.

By the way, my husband Tyler (a native Minnesotan) has asked me to sign off on today’s blog post with, “Skol Vikings!”

What do you think about the recent study featured in Nature? Do you think Kaepernick could regain his starting spot if he added some meat back to his diet? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

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Burke Teichert: How to cull the right cow without keeping records

Burke Teichert: How to cull the right cow without keeping records

In nearly every talk I give, I challenge the audience to cull the right cow. That requires the development of a systems mindset and some good discipline. We are often told to keep individual records on each cow and calf. I want to contradict that and tell you that it is a waste of time. The time spent on tagging calves and keeping records would be much better spent planning and developing fence and water to do a better job of grazing or working on selection, culling and marketing strategies.

You don’t really select cows. You eliminate or cull the ones you don’t want. You select bulls.

If you cull the right cows, your herd will rapidly be rid of most of the problems that take your time and cost you money.  Also, it will slowly improve in the income-generating traits. Now, how do we cull the right cow without any paper or computerized records?

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It starts with heifer calves. Sometime between weaning and breeding, you eliminate the “ugly” ones and poor doers—doesn’t take any paper or computer to do that. Then expose the rest (a very high percentage) to bulls or AI for a very short time. I prefer 30 days or less. Then eliminate those that don’t get pregnant—again, no paper or computer. I can already hear someone saying, “I want to select the heifers that I expose to the bulls.” Let me ask several questions:

  • Are you going to sell the mother of every heifer that you don’t keep? Why not?
  •  If you have used good bulls, shouldn’t the heifer calf have a good chance of being better than her mother?
  • Do you really think you can select the good ones more accurately than Mother Nature and the bull? I have a lot of experience that tells me you can’t.
  • What really makes a replacement valuable?

With very few exceptions, heifers that breed in the second cycle will not live long enough to catch up to those that breed in the first cycle. The research shows that yearling heifers that breed in the first cycle will average about one more calf in a lifetime and significantly more pounds of weaned calf. So, start by culling heifers that don’t breed early.

Then my cull list continues:

  • Opens—yes, every one, even if it’s your daughter’s first heifer. It’s much more profitable to cash her in and replace with one that will calve next year. Make this sort off the end of the chute at pregnancy check time—no paper or computer.
  • Dries—don’t confuse with opens. These are the real expensive ones. You feed them from the time they were checked pregnant but somewhere along the way, they lose their calf. You can sort them off at calving, branding or weaning—usually the earlier the better. Some ranchers sell rebred dries. I think this is OK if they are sold to people who don’t raise replacements.
  • Those that need individual attention—to pull calves, doctor, etc. You surely can’t afford these. They have taken valuable time. To help keep track of these cows, I do like to tag every replacement heifer when she is confirmed pregnant. Then, as problems occur, use a notching tool to notch the tags of those you have to handle so you can find and separate them at a subsequent working. Weaning and pregnancy checking is a good time to get the notched animals sorted off and placed with your market animals.
  • Raise poor calves. Some will say I need a scale and adjusted weights to do this. No, I’m only looking for the poor ones. I can see those, and I don’t sell adjusted weights. When you wean, sort the poor calves off and let them back in with the cows the next day. They will “mother up” and you can then sort them off and prepare them for marketing.
  • Bad disposition. You just don’t want them. Besides being a danger to handlers, they cost you money in many other ways—broken fences, more shrink as they stir up the whole herd, etc. They get a bad disposition three ways—inheritance, they learn it from other cattle, or they learn it from their handler. The first two are easy to fix.
  • Ugly (your definition). Sometimes your “ugly” will be someone else’s “pretty.” I liked to call those that calved after the first 30 days “ugly” and sell them to someone as terminal crossing cows who thought they were pretty nice. Remember, with the cows (not yearling heifers), I like a short calving season and long breeding season. There are other things that can make them ugly—tall and narrow, feet, legs, udders or things that will reduce buyer acceptance.

You see we didn’t need to tag calves at birth or keep any paper or computer records to get this job done. It is simple and takes little time for the good cow man who has a good mental picture of what a cowherd should look like and do. Your cows will become more uniform in phenotypic appearance and cow size will move toward what is best adapted to your management and environment while you are eliminating the ones you don’t want—if you don’t mess it up with poor bull selection.

Some who respond to my articles are trying to reduce their dependence on labor, equipment and facilities. At the same time, they are replacing fed feed with grazing. As you reduce inputs, culling rates may be a little higher for a while, but there are good cows in every herd. The good ones will survive and reproduce. Average cows are pretty good cows. That kind will keep you in business.  Those that can’t wean an acceptable calf every year are the ones to eliminate.

Following these guidelines will make more progress in the operational and economic efficiency of your herd than trying to select faster growing, prettier heifers. What does it matter if they grow faster if they are born later and have less days to grow; if they won’t breed as well; if they don’t calve as easily or; if you have to doctor them? Don’t let a desire for high growth rates and weaning weight obscure the goal of total pounds produced from the system and, yes, profitability.

Burke Teichert, a consultant on strategic planning for ranches, retired in 2010 as vice president and general manager of AgReserves, Inc. He resides in Orem, Utah. Contact him at [email protected]

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Drones, smart ear tags & cameras: The case for using technology in ranching

Willie Vogt Could drones save cows? Here’s why researchers think so

Technology is rapidly advancing the cattle business. The capability now exists for specialized ear tags and unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs or drones, to remotely check on cattle and monitor their health, and wireless cameras with long-range capability can notify a beef producer by cell phone that a cow has calved or that someone has pulled onto the property.

“Five years ago, no one had even heard of a UAV, other than drones used by the military,” says Pete Cunningham with Ag Eagle and Cunningham Ag Services in Ansley, Neb. “There has been a lot of progress since then, and especially in the last year. There is no limit in what data these drones can gather. Producers just need to decide what data they want,” he says.

Cunningham sees drones becoming part of everyday cattle management, if producers are willing to embrace this technology. “The UAV or drones are a tool to carry a sensor of some type,” he explains. “These sensors can be of any endless possibility from precision livestock management to locating an animal. It can change how we manage and identify sick and under-performing individuals even sooner than a pen rider or by horseback in a pasture. Whatever your program is, this technology will only make that better,” he says.

Feedlot drone photo

If a farmer/feeder has 1,000 head of cattle in a feedlot, he may be the pen rider as well as the feed truck driver, Cunningham continues. “If there is a snowstorm, he may have to concentrate on feeding the cattle and other chores and let the pen checking go. The UAV can check the cattle for him, and issue alerts. It is capable to catching an outbreak of sickness or even alerting you to a single animal that doesn’t show its normal signs of activity. It allows you to handle a couple head and leave the other 998 alone,” he says.

Cunningham encourages cattle producers to experiment with this new technology. “It may start out as a toy until you can figure out how to make it usable in the operation,” he says. “You can experiment with it at a relatively low cost. Until you determine how you want to use it, I wouldn’t recommend starting with a high-end device,” he states.

Under new FAA regulations implemented in August, persons who want to fly a drone must be at least 16 years old and be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration. They must also hold either a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating, or be under the direct supervision of a person who does. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, a person must demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by either passing an initial aeronautical test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or hold a part 61 pilot certificate, according to the FAA regulations for using a drone.

Cunningham believes small producers can even benefit from using drones. “The advantage of being a smaller operator is having the time to evaluate all the data these drones can provide to you, and determining how to implement it,” he explains. “The drones have the capability of gathering more information than some operations have time to evaluate.”

Enter smart ear tags

Andrew Uden with Quantified Ag in Lincoln, Neb., says the development of a biometric-sensing ear tag, when combined with a data analysis tool set, can improve traceability in the whole system and change big data’s role in precision beef production. “In the livestock business, as we utilize biometric readers, smart ear tags, and better technology with individual animals, we can actually manage at that level,” he says.

“We no longer have to pull an entire pen of cattle to treat one individual. We can manage cattle on a head by head basis, which fits very well into what our industry has built from a management perspective. It puts more of the efficiency and cost management structure back into the hands of the producer,” he says.

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This technology can measure biometrics and behavior of animals, verify if an animal was treated for disease and the outcome, and determine if the animal was treated humanely or mistreated, he notes.

What these advancements will require is the development of a reliable network so these products can be used in remote areas. “The problem with this technology is it takes a lot of infrastructure to put in place,” Uden explains. “Our technology steps in to fill some of these gaps by creating a reliable range that animals can be away from the reader. We have a two-mile range on our reader right now,” he notes.

“We are also creating a platform that will take some of these same sensors that monitor inner ear canal temperature, head position and mobility of the animal, and from that we can use this data to create a health picture of the animal at any given time of the day,” he says.

“With that information, the producer can decide if they want to pull and treat that animal. In fact, finding that animal in a pen of cattle is as simple as turning on a light on the ear tag. We have built an ear tag that can basically send and receive data. Doing this gives us options of what we want to change, and turning the light on and off when we are sorting groups of cattle,” he explains.

In the future, Uden says this technology will be able to tell a producer what disease an animal has, and whether or not it should be treated. “This technology will help make the industry more sustainable,” he says.

Smile, you’re on camera

With it becoming more difficult to find good employees, implementing some of this technology can save producers time. Shawn Rosen with RosTech Wireless, based in Montreal, Quebec, says by installing wireless cameras in the calving barn, producers can monitor their pregnant cows from home. “Late at night, when you are calving, instead of traveling back and forth to the barn, you can log on via cell phone or computer monitor and see what is going on there,” he explains. “It puts you right there when the calf is being born, while saving you the time of running back and forth.”

In a country that is becoming less secure all the time, these cameras can also relay a signal that will notify the rancher if someone drives into the yard, Rosen continues. “You can log on and see who is there and what they are doing at any given time,” he notes. “Farmers and ranchers are becoming more of a target because of the vast amount of acreage many of them own. Society has changed. These cameras can send a signal up to a mile. This product is there to protect you,” he states.

“Connectivity is probably one of the most important things about our product,” he continues. The cameras are moving toward a wi-fi system, and work continues to develop cameras that project better images. “We are also developing cameras that can provide auto-track for security purposes. If someone comes onto your property, these cameras can move and track their movement, as well as zoom in on an intruder. It will have the capability to even notify the police, if necessary,” he says.

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