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The Farmyard By Belle Schmidt, Longmont, CO
Across the yard she chased me
broom raised high, an instrument
for punishment because she
didn’t understand. So, I
ran on winged feet like Hermes;
legs strong, like pistons pumping;
lungs like bellows pushing air;
breathing evenly, in----out.
To read the complete poem, click on the headline above.

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In The News
Census shows number of small, diverse farms increasing Source: USDA
The number of farms in the United States has grown 4% and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years, according to results of the 2007 Census of Agriculture released in early February by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

USDA’s definition of a farm for the census is any place from which $1,000 or more agricultural products were produced or sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year.

Overall, the census found an increase in the number of farms, and compared to all farms nationwide, these new farms tend to be more diverse, with fewer acres, lower sales and younger operators who also work off the farm, according to Carol House, National Agricultural Statistics Service deputy administrator. To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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Our Perspective
C is for Taking Chances By Kindra Gordon
Among my favorite sayings is this: Chances aren’t given; they’re taken. I interpret that to mean you can’t stand around waiting for things to happen – to be handed to you. Instead, you’ve got to create your future – take chances and make opportunities come your way. To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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Marketing Insight
5 Risk management tools to consider in 2009 By Job Springer, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
The stock market is not the only investment that fell in value during 2008 - the agricultural commodities markets have, too. Many agricultural producers across the United States are feeling the pinch from falling commodity prices. Because of the current downturn in these markets, it has become more important than ever for agricultural producers to manage their price risks. Commodity prices have paralleled the stock market downturn. Prices have been influenced less by the usual interplay between commodities (e.g., the price of corn often has an effect on the price of beef) and more by the overall state of the economy. To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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Begin adding value to your 2009 calf crop today By Jason K. Ahola, University of Idaho
Up until last fall, most cow/calf producers had been profitable for the previous 11-year period. Unfortunately, in the past 1-2 years, costs for hay, supplement, fuel, fertilizer, and about a dozen other inputs have risen faster than calf prices did during that 8-year period. Many inputs have actually doubled in the past two years. And, calf prices declined $6/cwt, or $33/calf, compared to the year previous during both 2007 and 2008.

This bad combination of increasing costs and decreasing income led to the first year of widespread unprofitability by cow/calf operations in 2008.

The projection for calf prices in 2009 isn’t good news either. The drop in 550 lb steer calf price from 2008 to 2009 may not be quite as steep as in previous years, but it will still probably drop another $3.50-5.50/cwt ($20-30/head; according to Cattle-Fax).

So, being a low-cost producer will once again be a requirement of cow/calf operators. Historically, cow/calf producers achieved profitability (or at least limited their losses) by cutting costs in several key areas, particularly when the industry was truly a commodity, or breakeven, business. However, in recent years, as the U.S. beef industry has moved toward value-based marketing, many producers have been able to acquire premiums for cattle that were better than “commodity” cattle. It appears that the industry may be nearing the point where taking advantage of value-adding opportunities in the marketplace could be almost as important as being low-cost in order to attain profitability.
To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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New online risk-management tool available
USDA’s Risk Management Agency has launched an online resource to help farmers and ranchers protect against downside risks, and take advantage of upside market opportunities. The new site is: To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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Fresh water on demand, 24 hours a day. From a single horse Stall Fount to fountains that water up to 500 head of cattle, Ritchie fountains are top quality. The Omni and CattleMaster families feature a new, domed valve cover designed to reduce dirt and grime accumulation in the water seal groove. All products feature stainless steel, heavy-duty polyethylene or a combination of both and a 10-year limited warranty.

For more information or a distributor near you, contact Ritchie Industries at 800-747-0222 or visit

This Week's Tip
Guidelines if feeding moldy hay Source: Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska
Feeding moldy hay to livestock is a tough decision. Although all hay contains some mold, when mold becomes noticeable the decisions become important. Usually, mold makes hay less palatable, which can result in lower intake or in animals refusing to eat the hay. To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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A Real Cowman
Cody & Dawnnell Holmes, Norwood, MO By Cody Holmes
The ranching industry has been subjected to many outside forces and some forced changes over the last thirty six years I have been ranching here in Southern Missouri. But then again some parts of ranching are the same as it’s always been.

We raise black Angus cattle and hair sheep on the Rockin H Ranch. Both species being ruminant animals, their diet requirements can be met exclusively from a forage base provided a sustainable operation in place. The act of sustainability on this ranch is our daily challenge and the key to our success. To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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New Products
Pint-sized corral panels and gates
Want to put a smile on your little ranch hand’s face? Then check out the toy corral panel and gate sets from North Dakota-based company My L’ttle Ranchhand. The die-cast toy corral panels and gates are about 3.5 inches tall and 5.5 inches long.To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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Sandhills calving system can help reduce scours Source: University of Nebraska
As calving season progresses, calving pastures start to get beat up and calves start getting scours. This can start leading to problems with calf scours, says University of Nebraska forage extension specialist Bruce Anderson. But, he reminds producers that the incidence of scours can be reduced by subdividing calving pasture and properly moving cows through them. To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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Carcass Ultrasound 101: Understanding Ultrasound Contemporary Groups By Mark Henry, National CUP Lab
Though their importance is often overlooked, contemporary groups are truly the cornerstone of any genetic evaluation. Unfortunately, establishment of an ultrasound contemporary group is sometimes done improperly.

There are a number of rules that must be followed in order to receive the maximum benefit from reporting ultrasound data, particularly in establishing and increasing the accuracy of Carcass Expected Progeny Differences (EPD). Whether you have 5 yearlings to scan or 5,000, the process of contemporary grouping is basically the same. Here are a few guidelines: To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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Range & Pasture
Think twice before converting grasslands to cropland By Kindra Gordon
With skyrocketing crop prices over the past year, some landowners are eyeing their grasslands or expired CRP acres and thinking they may be able to cash in by converting that land to cropland for growing corn or other grains.

In the face of soaring crop prices, increasing land rental rates and growing demand for corn, some ag economists have predicted that as many as 20 million acres of pastureland could be removed from CRP and converted to cropland over the next decade. But, conservationists caution that there can be some grave consequences with converting marginal pasturelands to cropland.To read the complete article, click on the headline above.

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Table Of Contents
> In The News
> Our Perspective
> Marketing Insight
> This Week's Tip
> A Real Cowman
> New Products
> Health
> Genetics
> Range & Pasture

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