Sep 20, 2014
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Grazing the Net

RSS By: Greg Henderson and Friends, Beef Today

Our editors spend some time roaming the web looking for stuff cattle people and others in agriculture might find useful or entertaining. 

Crickets, Aye

Sep 19, 2014

Our idea of a protein packed meal is "turf and turf," but a bug farm in Canada is hoping that meat heavy diet will shift to more crunchy textured animal protein. Next Millennium Farms is hoping their Protein2050: Excellence In Entomophagy will really take off. The farm's website states: "In our lifetime, humanity will not be able to sustain itself using conventional farming methods. We are leading the protein revolution with a new, environmentally sound method of food production. From Cricket flour to insect protein, the revolution is coming!" The farm hopes to ship 10,000 lb. of cricket flour per month at the end of the year. We'll stick to the "turf and turf."

Producers Go to College

Beef Today's Cowboy College, held in Omaha, Neb., educates producers with their decision making tips this fall and helps with animal management.

Producers and experts talked antibiotics, treatment and animal handling. AgDay's Betsy Jibben stopped by Cowboy College and interviewed Mike Apley, DVM and professor at Kansas State University, about some of the problems producers have been dealing with recently. Apley says he sees producers struggle with the decision of when to use antibiotics and when to hold off. He says the key having a plan and making it early. "The protocol needs to have the definition of how we would treat an animal, and then a success – failure definition of we’ve been successful or if we need to continue therapy or discontinue therapy," Apley says.

Beef a Big ROI

Beef producers have been dealing with a bull market all year long. Record low cow numbers and record high corn production have made beef an investor's dream commodity. For the past 12 months beef prices have been up 23%, that's six straight years of annual price gain. To top things off Bloomberg ranks beef #1 of the 34 raw materials it tracks in the Bloomberg Riskless Return Ranking. The cattle market "truly is, right now, the last bull standing," says Don Roose, the president of U.S. Commodities Inc. "The hamburger price is starting to look like a steak price."

Wanted ... Tools To Identify Uncommon Beef Cattle Traits

A research project from USDA looks at the genetics of 2,000 bulls from 16 different breeds.
To help producers further improve their genetic evaluations, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center geneticist Mark Thallman and his colleagues started the "2,000 Bulls Project" in 2007. They collaborated with the largest U.S. cattle breed associations to collect genetic profiles of 2,000 bulls from 16 different breeds. Each of the 2,000 bulls was tested for approximately 50,000 genetic markers by use of the Illumina BovineSNP50 Beadchip. The markers genotyped by that chip were discovered from a number of sources, including the germplasm evaluation project and ARS research efforts conducted at USMARC and Beltsville, Maryland.

GMOs: Trillions and Trillions Served

Sep 18, 2014

The anti-GMO debate has been picking up over the past few years. Areas of Hawaii have looked into outlawing GMOs, while other states such as Vermont are looking at requiring mandatory labeling of food containing GMOs.

Jon Entine at Forbes approached the topic of GMOs in a recent article and he's found that much of the anti-GMO science is hogwash. "By common sense alone, if GE feed were causing unusual problems among livestock, farmers would have noticed," Entine notes. "Dead and sick animals would literally litter farms around the world. Yet there are no anecdotal reports of such mass health problems." Entine goes on to list a number of scientific studies that have proven what many in agriculture already know: GMOs are safe.

Cattle will Really "Cry Wolf"

Crying wolf is typically meant as an insult to someone who has raised a false alarm over nothing, but a new study being conducted will have cattle alerting researchers of wolf activity. Washington State University is investigating the impacts wolves have on cattle grazing in the Methow Valley of Washington. Seven cows have been fitted with GPS collars and ten times as many calves are equipped with tags that emit radio signals of their location. Thus far there have been no wolf kills in the study and wolves have been in nearby contact thanks to a forest fire pushing them to cattle territory.


Buffalo Cull

Yellowstone National Park is in store for a bigtime bison hunt. Plans have been put in place to cull approximately 900 head of bison out of a herd that nears 4,900. The cull has been put in place because many of the bison have been roaming from the park to grazing grounds in Montana where they come in contact with cattle. There is a fear the bison could be carrying brucellosis, a disease that could put Montana's brucellosis-free status at risk. The most recently announced cull may sound historic in size, but in the winter of 2007-08 more than 1,600 bison were killed. Yellowstone officials hope to eventually stabilize the population at 3,000 bison.

Speed Grain Hauling

A Wisconsin farmer has designed the fastest loading facility that we’ve ever seen. Watch him load semis in mere seconds.

Prevent Abuse Videos with BQA

Sep 17, 2014

Another case of animal abuse has just been reported. An undercover animal activist working with Mercy For Animals recorded video of employees at a dairy in southern New Mexico handling cows and calves in way that makes you cringe. It also makes you wonder, were these employees even trained how to properly handle cattle?

If the workers at Winchester Dairy had gone through a training program like Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) they'd know how to appropriately take care of downed animals or dairy calves. Don't put your farm, ranch or the industry at risk by not getting BQA certified. Oh, and up to Oct. 31 you can get your certification for free!

Globally School Lunches Meatless?!?

Yesterday, we shared with you Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples fight against "Meatless Monday" in schools.

The folks over at BuzzFeed were kind enough to share some photos from across the globe that showoff school lunches in 16 different countries. By our count 5 of the countries (Sweden, India, Israel, South Korea & the U.K.,) had zero meat on their plates, and that’s if you count poultry and fish! We’re only certain the Czech Republic is the only country serving beef. To top it off Austin, Texas, represented the U.S. and "turkey taco salad" was the meat item. Somebody needs to steal these kids’ lunch money and buy them some beef!


Menus Shrinking

Bigger hasn't necessarily been better when it comes to menu size. Fast-casual dining has been trending up with menus that are light on choices, but focus on taste. McDonald's and Oliver Garden have taken opposite approaches and their popularity has been trending down largely because of menu overload leading to less focus on quality dining. In 2007, there were nearly 100 items listed at the average restaurant, an all-time high. Since then the tendency has been shrinking menus with the number of items now at 92.6. When it comes to new restaurants the difference is more drastic with less than 60 items on menu.

Marketing Cull Cows this Fall

Should you cull your cows this fall?

Andrew P. Griffith, assistant professor in ag economic at University of Tennessee, lays out some of the economic considerations cattle producer should have before selling cull cows. "Traditionally, marketing cows in the fall results in the cow being sold on the lowest market of the year. Using the last ten years of data, market cow prices have been 15 to 20% higher in the May and June time period than in the October through December time period," Griffith says.

Are We "Brainwashing" Kids?

Sep 16, 2014

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is in hot water for ... well, supporting agriculture. In the state that has the most cows and produces the most beef, Staples has been criticized because he took a stance against schools in his state adopting "Meatless Monday."

FOX News agrees with Staples and thinks we should stop "brainwashing" kids with the Meatless Monday nonsense.

Grist, however, says Staples "freaked out." Maybe that's because the Monday menu at one Texas school included "vegetarian chili."

Hmmm… vegetarian chili. Wouldn’t that just be bean soup?

Weird News

That smell you sense coming from the west is not a feedlot. It's Ojai, Calif., native Cody Creighton who hasn't showered in 60 days. And he doesn't plan on doing so for at least another two months. It's his attempt to draw attention to California's historic drought and encourage other folks to conserve water.

But Creighton is not the craziest Californian we discovered this week. That title belongs to Annie Preece, a Los Angeles woman who is threatening to defecate in the yards of people who let their dogs poop in her yard.

China Invests Down Under

China is making investments in Australian agriculture. A Chinese company recently purchased the Elizabeth Downs cattle station, a 500,000 acre ranch that sold for $11.5 million, plus an undisclosed amount for 9,000 head of cattle.

Many northern Australian cattlemen are hoping the arrival of the Chinese company will open doors for the entire industry.

Two Chinese investment groups have established a $3 billion fund to invest in Australian agriculture, as Australia edges closer to securing a free trade deal with China.


Cattle Feeding Margins Exceed $230

Cattle feeders saw profit margins improve last week despite slightly lower cash cattle prices. That’s because their costs continued to decline. Last week was the third consecutive weekly increase for cattle feeding margins, and hog producers also saw their profits increase last week.

Knee-Deep in Pig Manure

Sep 15, 2014

We just learned about this new ag-related job description: sustainability consultant. What, pray tell, is that? Rebecca Thistlethwaite claims to be one, and along with a B.S. in Natural Resources Management and a M.S. in International Agricultural Development and Agroecology, she claims to "have a holistic understanding of the human and ecological dimensions of the food system." She gives "bootstrapping" seminars to aspiring new farmers – mostly telling them farming is not the idyllic, stress-free life they envision. She tries to prepare farmer wannabes for "standing knee-deep in pig manure."

Vaccine Wars

What the hell are they thinking? Nearly 10% of school-age children living in Hollywood, Calif., attendance areas are not being immunized against childhood diseases.

California law allows parents to file Personal Belief Exemptions (PBE) so they don't have to vaccinate kids before sending them to school, leaving some school's vaccination rates on a par with South Sudan. The result is exactly what you would expect – there's a near-epidemic of whooping cough, measles and other diseases in Southern California. The epicenter of this anti-vaxx stupidity is the affluent Westside – where kids attend exclusive, entertainment-industry-favored child care centers, preschools and kindergartens. One "alternative-friendly" doctor is fueling the anti-vaxx fire.

Cowboy College

More than 130 cowboys from 17 states attended Beef Today's first Cowboy College last week in Omaha. The two-day educational program was designed specifically for feedlot cattle crews – processing teams, cowboy doctors and others involved in the day-to-day care and welfare of beef feedlot animals.

Risk Ranch App

Cattle feeding is not for the faint of heart. The market is prone to volatile swings up and down, and many fortunes have been made and lost. If you need a cattle feeding fix, but don't want the financial risk, there's a new app just for you. The CME group and 4-H developed a game called Risk Ranch that you can download for free. The game is designed to help folks better understand agriculture by moving through the process of raising a cartoon steer for market.

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