Brief news articles on important Angus industry happenings.
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News Update
Sept. 6, 2011
NCBA Urges President Obama to Include Trade Deals in Jobs Plan

Labor Day is a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of U.S. workers. A day after Labor Day and just two days before President Obama is expected to address the nation with a plan to jumpstart the U.S. economy and create jobs in the United States, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Bill Donald calls on the president to send the three pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to Congress immediately.

“If the president is serious about creating jobs, we expect the three trade agreements to be sent to Congress this week. There is absolutely no conceivable reason to delay these job-generating trade pacts any longer,” Donald said. “Since President Obama took office, these trade agreements have been collecting dust on his desk. A lot of finger pointing is going on while our competitors capitalize on our inability to act on these trade deals.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), for every $1 billion worth of agricultural goods exported, approximately 8,000 jobs are created. Donald said the three pending agreements would generate nearly $2.5 billion in additional exports and around 20,000 jobs. He said the trade agreements are a stimulus package that doesn’t place additional financial burdens on U.S. taxpayers.

“If the president is serious about creating jobs, there should be no doubt in his mind that these trade agreements must be sent to Congress immediately,” Donald said. “Those of us in rural America who depend on free and open trade are tired of bureaucratic speak and political games. It is time for the president to be a leader and send these trade agreements to Congress.”

— Release by NCBA.
Cow Slaughter and Herd Dynamics This Fall

Cow slaughter continues at a pace well above last year in the Southern Plains. Beef cow slaughter in federal Region 6, which corresponds to the worst drought area, is averaging 150% of year-ago levels for the past eight weeks. For the year to date, beef cow slaughter in the region is 123% above a year ago. Beef cow slaughter in all other regions for the year to date is down 6%, resulting in a total national beef cow slaughter that is 101% of last year. However, beef cow slaughter outside of Region 6 is 4.5% above year-ago levels for the past eight weeks, resulting in total beef cow slaughter higher last year for the past few weeks. Additionally, significant numbers of cows have moved out of Texas and Oklahoma to other regions, though it is hard to know how many cows have been relocated. All of this likely means that cow culling for the remainder of the year will not follow typical seasonal patterns both inside and outside of the drought areas.

In the drought regions, it seems clear that most of the cows normally culled for age or productivity reasons have long since moved to market and are part of the increased slaughter already documented. Additionally, many younger or still productive cows have also been sold, either to slaughter or to new owners in other regions along with some relocation of cows by owners in the drought region. This raises the question of what to expect in the drought area for the remainder of the year. Though most of the normally culled cows have already been sold, continued dry conditions will presumably force additional cow liquidation through the fall. One would presume that most producers have by now determined if it is feasible to keep cows through the winter or not and that additional movements might be at a slower pace than summer levels. However, there are reports that pregnancy evaluations are, in some cases, showing significantly reduced pregnancy rates due to the effects of the drought and this may lead to some additional culling this fall. 

Drought liquidation may have an impact on beef herd culling in other regions for the remainder of the year. Beef cow slaughter in regions outside the drought area is also up the past eight weeks. Forage conditions in most of the rest of the country have ranged from very good to average and increased slaughter is likely not the result of poor forage conditions. However, the movement of drought region cows into other regions may be changing normal culling patterns.  Producers with good forage may be culling early to take advantage of the opportunity to trade out cull cows for young cows from the drought zone or take in lease cows needing a new home.  Additionally, many heifers held for replacement in the drought region have also been liquidated making more replacements available to producers in other regions. The availability of heifers and breeding cows from the drought area may help accelerate the herd expansion already in place in northern regions of the country.

The drought ensures that beef cow slaughter this year will be close to, or perhaps above, year ago levels on a national basis. The total beef cow herd will decrease by 2%-3% this year. The regional impacts will be much more dramatic with herd growth likely in the Northern Plains and northern Rocky Mountain regions and double digit reductions in herds in Texas and Oklahoma.

— Release by Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension.
Conference Focuses on Hitting the High-Quality Target and Being Rewarded
The Aug. 31-Sept. 1 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) symposium focused on reproductive strategies to hit the high-quality target and the benefits of doing so. University of Missouri (MU) Extension hosted the conference in Joplin, Mo. Comprehensive coverage of the symposium is being posted online at www.appliedreprostrategies.comand will be featured in part in the October Angus Journal and Angus Beef Bulletin. Compiled by Angus Productions Inc. (API), the site is made possible through sponsorship by the Beef Reproductive Task Force, SEK Genetics, and Coverage includes summaries of the speaker presentations, PowerPoints, proceedings and audio.
Early Registration Deadline is Sept. 9 for ARSBC – Northwest

Another ARSBC tailored to the Northwest will be hosted Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in Boise, Idaho. “Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle – Northwest,” will draw together top beef experts from across the nation, says John Hall, superintendent of the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center operated by the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences near Salmon, Idaho. Beef producers will learn how to increase the quality and efficiency of their herds through use of modern breeding technologies to improve genetics.

Producers will find that one of the greatest values of attending the conference, Hall said, is the opportunity to spend time individually with top experts before or after their presentations.

The conference is sponsored by University of Idaho Extension, Oregon State University Extension Service and the Beef Reproduction Task Force in cooperation with University of Missouri Extension.

More information about the conference is available online at, by phone or from John Hall at the University of Idaho’s Cummings Center by email at Registration is available online or by telephone at 866-682-6663. Registration for both days costs $175 through Sept. 9 and $200 beginning Sept. 10. Registration costs $100 for one day or for students and educators.
Preparing Calves for Their Future

How you handle the calves on your farm when they are young directly affects their performance in the feedyard. According to veterinarians and professionals who work in the field, producers should start early on in a calf’s life using calm handling techniques. Kip Lukasiewicz of Sandhills Cattle Consultants in Ainsworth, Neb., also recommends that producers follow these steps while moving cattle in a pasture rotation system:
  • Respect the bond between the cow and the calf.
  • If pairs are resting when you get there to move them, slowly walk through them, giving them ample time to pair up.
Oftentimes we are in a hurry to get things done, and this doesn’t always produce the most positive results. Another item that you may want to consider is leaving the back fence open for a time to allow younger calves plenty of time to move to the new grazing paddock.

It’s also recommended that you complete a “dry run” now and then where calves are calmly separated from cows for an overnight period and then reunited the next morning. The thought process is to show young calves that separation from the cow can be tolerated. This could be done when you have the cows in for artificial insemination (AI), or during a time like branding or tagging. Calves can also be periodically run through the chute and alleys just to help get them used to it.

As a cow-calf producer, it’s also extremely important to document the practices that you have implemented. These can be:
  • Handling procedures, both on farm, and in transit from farm to yard;
  • Weaning procedures;
  • Vaccinations (specific vaccines used). Be very specific when documenting what vaccine protocol you have used, preciseness really matters. For specific information on recordkeeping, refer to the “Group Processing Treatment Record” found on the MSU Beef Team website:;
  • Castrating;
  • Dehorning;
  • Weaning;
  • Treating for internal and external parasites. Be specific in the products that you have used;
  • Administering implants;
  • Adapting calves to feed or bunk breaking them; and
  • Current ration.
According to a recent survey conducted by Kansas State University (K-State), feedlots prefer to modify their animal processing programs when they know that they are receiving preconditioned calves. However, if you do not let them know, the feedlots have to assume that nothing has been done. The surveys also indicated that third-party verification can add to the level of trust that a feedlot is willing to put on a producer’s claim, and that they were “likely” to pay more for these types of preconditioned calves.

Communicating what you have done on your farm to the feedyard or the auction market also helps those down the line know what you have done with your calves to prepare them for the future. It makes the transition from the cow-calf operation to the feedyard that much easier and tolerable for the calves, and can aid in their overall health. Anything that you can do to help cattle adjust will ultimately make you a more attractive cow-calf producer, and will help to ensure a long-term relationship with your feedyard or auction market.

— Release by Cable Thurlow, Michigan State University.
West Texas Cows Get Beans Morning, Noon and Night During Drought

As the record-setting drought strengthens its sinewy grip across Texas, one may wonder what the remaining livestock and wildlife are eating.

Across the western half of the state, mesquite beans most likely are a big part of the answer, according to a pair of Texas AgriLife Extension Service experts at Fort Stockton.

Bruce Carpenter, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, and Alyson McDonald, AgriLife Extension range specialist, said while mesquite beans do have good feed value, it takes an awful lot of them to really make much of a difference to a hungry cow.

“I recently raked up all the beans from a 10-foot mesquite; total weight was just over five pounds,” McDonald said. “Those dry beans had a moisture content of 1%. I also picked some green beans from a tree and they jumped to 50% moisture.

“Now, for a cow to meet her daily dry-matter intake by eating beans alone, she’d have to eat about four 5-gallon buckets of dry beans or eight buckets of green beans. That’s an awful lot of beans.”

Carpenter said problems can arise when cattle eat mesquite beans for more than 60% of their diet continuously for two months or more. He said this usually happens when other forages become limited due to drought or when drought-stricken forage lacks enough protein to meet the animal’s needs.

“The protein content of mesquite beans drops from 28% in young beans to about 12% at maturity while fat increases from about 2% to 3% and fiber increases from 17% to 30%,” Carpenter said. “Many parts of Texas have seen a bumper bean crop this year and some areas even got a second crop, so mesquite beans are definitely on the menu.”

As with anything else, Carpenter said too much of a good thing can be bad. The beans have a high sugar content of 65% to 80%. Too much sugar can cause increased acidity in the cow’s rumen, killing the microflora needed to digest coarse, fibrous plant material. This causes a digestive slowdown, leading to an impaction of the digestive tract that can be fatal.

“Under normal circumstances this high fiber would be broken down and digested or passed out as undigested material,” he said. “Impacted animals essentially begin to starve. Severe weight loss is the most obvious sign, but other symptoms include swelling under the jaw, partial tongue or jaw paralysis, excessive salivation and constant chewing.”

Carpenter said affected animals can recover if placed on a high-quality ration. Inoculation of the rumen with fluid from a healthy animal is also reported to help.

“Watch your saddle horses, too,” Carpenter warned. “Although horses aren’t ruminants, they are susceptible to mesquite bean impaction problems. Colic may result causing horses to hump-up and kick at their abdomens or roll violently. Death is a real possibility in severe cases.”

Goats are fairly resistant to overconsumption problems, and sheep seem to be the most resistant of all common livestock, Carpenter said.

Most ranchers want less mesquite, so how much mesquite is actually spread through bean-eating animals? Not as much as many may think, McDonald said.

“It’s true that ingestion is an important dispersal mechanism and that exposure to digestion does increase germination, because the seed is able to more quickly absorb moisture,” McDonald said. “However, seedling establishment is dependent on the seed being in contact with the soil and covered slightly. That soil must also receive adequate moisture within days of germination for the plant to live, which hasn’t been much of a factor this year. Even in a good year, many seeds may germinate, but only a fraction, 20% or less, will become established. And if after one year the seeds haven’t germinated, as few as 5% will even be viable.”

— Release by Steve Byrns for Texas AgriLife.
— Compiled by Katie Gazda, assistant editor, Angus Productions Inc.
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