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BEEF'S COW CALF WEEKLY    April 27, 2007  |  A PENTON MEDIA PUBLICATION
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    Table Of Contents
> Slow Pacific-Rim Progress Begs The Question, "Why?"
> The Wisdom Of Our Elders, The Folly Of Youth
> Cattle Feeding Continues To Shift North
> Iowa Is Top Red-Meat Production State For March
> Japan & U.S. Move Forward On U.S. Beef Trade
> Corn Stalks For Ethanol? Maybe Not
> Oklahoma Passes Superfund Bill
> Water Resources Development Bill Passes House
> AMI Outlines Ethanol Policy On Animal Agriculture
> Gasoline, Diesel Prices Fall For Week Of April 23
> Netherlands Reports 83rd Case Of BSE
> Pharmaceutical Technologies' Impact Is $365/Head
> States Report Easter Freeze Effects On Hay Stands
> Texas Tornados Spare Livestock
> Check Wheat Hay For Nitrates
> Biogas Legislation To Help Animal Agriculture
> USDA Sends Farm Bill Language To Congress
> Tennessee Beef-Production Video Series Expanded
> What's The Cost Of A Missed Breeding Cycle?
> Noble Foundation Livestock School Is May May 8
> Two Great Cow-Calf Meetings Slated For December

    Our Perspective
      Slow Pacific-Rim Progress Begs The Question, "Why?"

This week, it was announced that Japan had agreed to discontinue inspections of entire meat shipments from the U.S. Both sides also agreed to speed up and facilitate Japan's inspection of U.S. plants to make implementation follow more quickly.

As President Bush and Japan's Prime Minister Abe prepare to meet at Camp David this weekend, signals abound that the Japanese are prepared to be more reasonable and implement a more science-based approach in the U.S. beef trade.

Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall

      The Wisdom Of Our Elders, The Folly Of Youth

The old axiom about learning from one's mistakes gets inscribed on the hearts of almost anyone who manages a cattle operation in very short order. That's because it seems like, no matter how much time and effort you put into managing your operation more efficiently, you end up making a plethora of mistakes, which then leads up to a whole lot of knowledge.

Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall

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    Industry Structure
      Cattle Feeding Continues To Shift North

USDA's April 20 Cattle-On-Feed Report indicates northern feedlots again appear to be feeding more cattle relative to last year and relative to the south, writes Dillon Feuz, Utah State University economist, at www.lmic.info/. South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska on-feed totals were up 10%, 6% and 3%, respectively. Meanwhile, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma on-feed totals were down 5%, 4% and 3%, respectively, lending more credence to reports that cattle feeding is gravitating toward ethanol-production areas.

The latest report also showed surprisingly lower than expected marketings for the month of March. The report cited marketings of 1.85 million head, 6% lower than last year and 2% lower than expected.

Reported placements were on the mark of expectations at 1.97 million head, 7% more than a year ago, and putting the total number of cattle on feed for April 1 to 11.64 million head -- 1% below the prior year and 1% more than the trade had anticipated.
- www.lmic.info/

      Iowa Is Top Red-Meat Production State For March

Iowa displaced Nebraska for the top spot in commercial red-meat production in March, USDA says. Iowa produced 552.2 million lbs. of red meat to eclipse Nebraska, which was down 5% to 550.3 million lbs., from its March 2006 total of 577.2 million lbs. Nationwide, commercial red-meat production totaled 4.01 billion lbs. in March, 2% off March 2006's 4.11 billion lbs.

Meanwhile, beef production nationwide totalled 2.12 billion lbs., 4% below the previous year, while cattle slaughter totaled 2.79 million head, down 2% from March 2006. The average live weight decreased 10 lbs. from March 2006, at 1,259 lbs. Kansas was March's top cattle-harvest state with 648,100 head killed.

Nationwide, veal production totaled 13.5 million lbs., 7% above March a year ago, while pork production totaled 1.86 billion lbs., 1% off last March's pace. Lamb and mutton production was up 7% to 19.6 million lbs.
-- USDA release

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    Foreign Trade
      Japan & U.S. Move Forward On U.S. Beef Trade

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Washington, D.C. this weekend to meet with President Bush. The Kyodo News quoted Japanese government sources this week as saying Abe plans to inform Bush that -- upon favorable inspection results of U.S. beef plants -- Japan will begin to consider easing import restrictions on U.S. beef. Currently only boneless product from cattle less than 20 months of age is exportable to the Japanese market.

In addition, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns announced Japan and the U.S. have agreed on steps to expand U.S. beef trade with Japan. USDA has approved Japan's request to conduct additional audits of U.S. beef processing plants. According to USDA, once the verification process is complete, Japan will discontinue its requirement of inspecting 100% of the boxes of beef shipped from U.S. plants.

Johanns said, "The U.S. expects Japan, as well as all of our trading partners, to implement import requirements for U.S. beef and beef products as soon as possible that are based on science and consistent with international guidelines, including those of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)."

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Phil Seng heralded the agreement and the work of negotiators, saying: "This is welcomed by not only the U.S. beef industry, but also the Japanese trade importing the product."

USMEF forecasts a doubling of U.S. beef exports compared to the current level as the "Zenpako Kensa," or 100% testing policy, has been a hugely limiting factor to the pace of U.S. beef exports, a news release said.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

    Environment
      Corn Stalks For Ethanol? Maybe Not

If conservation of organic matter in taken into account, farmers have to cut in half the amount of cornstalks that can be harvested to produce ethanol, according to USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

Jane Johnson, a soil scientist with the ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory at Morris, MN, found that twice as many cornstalks have to be left in the field to maintain soil organic matter levels, compared with the amount of stalks needed only to prevent erosion.

For example, 213-bu./acre corn yields leave about 4 tons of stalks/acre. Farmers could harvest about 2 tons of stalks/acre for conversion to cellulosic ethanol -- but only from land with low erosion risk, using little or no tillage. If the field is rotated with soybeans, only about 1 ton/acre of stalks can be removed to compensate for the lower biomass left by the soybeans.
--Agricultural Research Service release

      Oklahoma Passes Superfund Bill

Oklahoma's governor has signed a state law that declares animal manure is not hazardous waste. In addition, the bill extends the protection to associated material such as bedding and compost; raw materials or other nonhazardous material commingled with manure; nonhazardous process water associated with manure or materials; or nonhazardous byproducts, constituents or substances contained in or originating from the manure, materials or process water.

Not only is the bill a win for Oklahoma agriculture, which was facing a concerted effort by the state's attorney general to declare manure a hazardous substance, but it will be helpful in Washington, D.C. in getting a federal law passed that brings some common sense to the effort by anti-beef activists to declare manure a Superfund substance.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Water Resources Development Bill Passes House

The House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act, which provides for $3.5 billion for modernization of the locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois River. This legislation has been a priority of U.S. agriculture.

The National Corn Growers Association said, "An upgraded system is urgently needed to ensure U.S. farmers can efficiently move their crops to market and stay competitive in the international marketplace. The bill also would create a new ecosystem restoration program for the Upper Mississippi River Basin that would significantly enhance the natural resources of the region."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

    Industry News
      AMI Outlines Ethanol Policy On Animal Agriculture

The American Meat Institute (AMI) asked Congress and the Administration this week to consider tax incentives and other legislative initiatives to support "energy-based" opportunities for animal agriculture. Because of the increased demands on corn from the ethanol industry, AMI urged Congress to take action in four areas:
  • Expand research in ethanol byproduct safety, quality and usability, and renewable energy technologies, such as renewable diesel, biogas and cellulosic conversion.

  • Establish equity of incentives for all renewable energy, including renewable diesel and methane conversion.

  • Support a working lands conservation program to encourage environmentally friendly feed stuffs production.

  • Expose consumers to more renewable fuels by allowing the ethanol tariff to expire.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Gasoline, Diesel Prices Fall For Week Of April 23

Average retail prices for gasoline and diesel nationwide both saw drops for the week of April 23, reports the Energy Information Administration. Gasoline fell 0.7¢ to $2.86/gal., while diesel shaved 2.6¢ to $2.851.

The gasoline price is 4.5¢ lower than at this time last year. Recording decreases were the East Coast, down 0.4¢ to $2.835, the Midwest down 3.2¢ to $2.775, and the Gulf Coast down 0.8¢ to $2.755. Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountain region saw a 4.3¢ increase to $2.844, the West Coast rose 2.3¢ to $3.218, and California experienced a 1.1¢ increase to $3.316 -- 24.8¢ more than last year.

Meanwhile, the national average retail price for diesel is 2.5¢ lower than at this time last year, with all regions reporting decreases for the week. The East Coast fell by 2.5¢ to $2.837/gal., the Midwest was down 3.3¢ to $2.831, the Gulf Coast fell 3.4¢ to $2.815, the Rocky Mountain area chipped off 0.3¢ to $2.978, and the West Coast fell a similar amount to $2.953. California prices fell 1.1¢ to $3.004/gal., 9.9¢ lower than at this time last year.
--Energy Information Administration

      Netherlands Reports 83rd Case Of BSE

The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture announced last Friday the discovery of a seven-year-old cow infected with BSE. The case is the Netherland's 83rd BSE case since 1997 but the first since March 2006.

AFP News reports one cow from the same farm as the confirmed BSE-positive cow, and another six from other farms believed at risk for BSE because they received the same feed or were descendants of the confirmed case, were also culled.

The Netherlands has so far recorded two cases of the human form of BSE -- variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease -- since the disease first appeared in 1996.
-- Joe Roybal

      Pharmaceutical Technologies' Impact Is $365/Head

Pharmaceutical technologies -- parasite control products, growth implants, sub-therapeutic antibiotics, ionophores and beta-agonists -- have a profound impact on the U.S. beef industry. But how much? Iowa State University economists estimate the direct cost savings to producers is $365/head over the lifetime of an animal.

Click here to read more of this story by Joe Roybal

      States Report Easter Freeze Effects On Hay Stands

Here's a rundown of reports on hay-stand conditions following the Easter weekend cold snap:
  • Garry Lacefield, University of Kentucky forage specialist, says he's amazed at the amount of variation in damage that occurred after seven weeks of unusually warm temperatures and rapid forage growth were followed by four days of record-setting low temps. Little damage is evident on tall fescue, orchardgrass, Kentucky bluegrass and timothy, with only leaf tip burning in most cases, he reports. Some ryegrass damage was seen, but a very high percentage of alfalfa's terminal buds were killed by April 8's extreme low temps. He's optimistic about future growth because crowns and crown buds are still alive.
Click here to read more of this story by Hay & Forage Grower magazine

      Texas Tornados Spare Livestock

Tornados that ripped through the Texas Panhandle last weekend spared feedyards and a packing plant, but did plenty of damage to homes and property.

Click here to read more of this story by Burt Rutherford

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Results from last week's poll:
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  • Pre-breeding: 44.44%
  • Preg-check: 38.89%
  • Other: 16.67%
  • Don't vaccinate: 0%
Vote now to answer this week's question:
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    Nutrition
      Check Wheat Hay For Nitrates

As the full extent of the Easter freeze becomes apparent, many wheat growers may opt to salvage their crop by haying or grazing. Before haying or grazing, check the wheat for nitrate levels, says David Mengel, Kansas State soil fertility expert.

"A very limited number of freeze-damaged wheat samples taken recently have shown high nitrate levels -- 6,000 to 15,000 parts per million (ppm) -- in the forage," Mengel says. "The highest levels came from fields fertilized shortly before the freeze."

Nitrate levels higher than 6,000 ppm can cause problems, like bloat and grass tetany.
--KSU release

    Government
      Biogas Legislation To Help Animal Agriculture

Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Larry Craig (R-ID) have introduced the "Biogas Production Incentives Act of 2007," which could provide renewable energy sources produced from animal wastes. The legislation promotes the development of biogas through tax incentives and guaranteed loans for small businesses. Biogas is a natural gas substitute created by the anaerobic digestion of animal wastes.

The legislation proposes:
  • Providing biogas producers with a tax credit of $4.27 for every million British thermal units of biogas produced;

  • Providing loans, loan guarantees and/or grants for the multi-farm collection and transportation of qualified energy feedstock from smaller livestock operations to a qualified facility, or for the purchase or construction of equipment or facilities for collection and transportation;

  • Creating a countercyclical safety net for biogas producers by providing payment from Commodity Credit Corporation funds to qualified biogas producers only when the annual average daily prices of natural gas falls below a certain level.
Sen. Nelson said, "The technology to break down animal wastes to create biogas already exists but it needs encouragement from the federal government to become a commercially-viable alternative to natural gas. This new energy source would benefit rural communities and the environment while lessening our dependence on fossil fuels."

Sen. Craig added, "Creating another market for a commodity is helpful but, as we have seen with corn-based ethanol, it can have negative consequences. However, creating a product out of waste is a groundbreaking opportunity to assist our livestock farmers. You create a new market, help control waste, keep our environment clean, and create a new revenue stream for farmers."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      USDA Sends Farm Bill Language To Congress

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns announced that USDA has sent to Congress its legislative language for the credit and conservation titles of the farm bill. Next week, USDA will send the legislative language for the energy and rural development titles. The information is available on USDA's website www.usda.gov.
--P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

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    Tips for Profit
      Tennessee Beef-Production Video Series Expanded

Ten videos have been added to the Tennessee Cattle Lane video series, part of an online library offered by the beef program of University of Tennessee. The new selections focus on animal ID, calf management, stockpiling fescue and animal nutrition.

More than 30 beef production and management topics are now featured in the series. For a complete list of topics, visit www.tncattlelane.org. There is no fee to view the videos or to print the accompanying fact sheets.
-- Joe Roybal

      What's The Cost Of A Missed Breeding Cycle?

This time of year, many Extension beef cattle educators preach the importance of a short breeding season where most of the cows and heifers conceive on the first service. Certainly a number of issues can affect how long it takes to get the entire herd settled, but a tight breeding season offers the opportunity to manage and market the resulting calves as one consistent group.

However, have you ever considered the direct economic benefit of cows that conceive on the first cycle? Assuming adequate nutrition is available, a good calf is likely gaining about 2.25+/ lbs./day at weaning time. If born 21 days later than his counterpart, a calf could easily weigh 40-50 lbs. less as a feeder calf come market time in fall 2008. If feeder calves are worth $1.20/lb. next fall, one missed breeding cycle could cost $50-60 for each calf that is born only one cycle late. For a cow that's two cycles late, those numbers double.

Herd health (vaccinations, etc.), cow body condition (nutrition), bull (breeding) power, bull breeding soundness and estrus synchronization programs are all factors that equate to getting cows settled early in the breeding season. Now's the time to consider the economic impact of each of these management opportunities as it relates to the harvest of your 2008 calf crop.
-- Stan Smith, Ohio State University Extension

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    Industry Meetings
      Noble Foundation Livestock School Is May May 8

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation hosts its Noble Foundation Livestock School May 8, at the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center in Ardmore. Information on the key elements of building and managing a healthy cow-calf production system will be presented.

The morning session kicks off at 9 a.m. with an overview of the Noble Foundation's Beef Production System protocols, followed by a presentation on selecting bulls and cows, defining a calving season, and the advantages of pairing calves and cows. After lunch, herd health programs, preconditioning and economic/market outlooks will follow, with the program winding up at 3:30 p.m.

Registration, which includes lunch, is $10. To register, call 580-224-6501 or visit www.noble.org/agevents.
-- Joe Roybal

      Two Great Cow-Calf Meetings Slated For December

Cow-calf producers and graziers should mark their calendars for two dynamite, production-oriented meetings slated for mid December.
  • First off, the 2007 Range Beef Cow Symposium, a practical, production-oriented symposium for cow-calf producers that is staged every other year by the Extension organizations of South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, is set for Dec. 11-13 in Ft. Collins, CO. Set for the Larimer County Fairgrounds, the meeting features presentations on the practical aspects of such cow-calf production topics as genetics, reproduction, range and forage management, cattle health, beef nutrition, and more. To learn more, contact Colorado State University Extension Beef Specialist Jack C. Whittier at 970-491-6233 or jack.whittier@colostate.edu.


  • Meanwhile, the Alabama Forage Conference is set for Dec. 13 in Troy, AL. For more information, call Eddie Jolley at 334-887-4564 or Don Ball at 334-844-5491.

-- Joe Roybal



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