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Published on: 18:37PM Oct 17, 2014

Imagine having a herd of nothing but prime, yield grade 1 cattle. They’d command the attention of feeders, packers and consumers. Unfortunately, only 3 in 10,000 carcasses will make that grade. According to National Geographic, a research study being conducted at West Texas A&M is trying to up those numbers. The experiment involves cloning a heifer and steer that had superior carcass merit but were not able to spread those genetics until being discovered on a rail in a packing plant.

The story is part of a multiyear initiative by National Geographic that focuses on “The Future of Food.”

Welfare Double Standard

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) sent a letter to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association expressing concerns with how cattle are cared for in the U.S. Some of AWI’s chief concerns include: tail docking, hot-iron branding, dehorning and castration without pain control. One of the head scratchers involves a double standard, AWI doesn’t like the practice of housing cattle in barns with slated floors but they are worried about cattle being properly protected during times of extreme cold weather.

Some of the complaints may have some merit, but to help protect your operation from scrutiny be sure to get Beef Quality Assurance certification. Oh, and did we mention it’s free until Oct. 31!

Misleading Meat Labeling

More and more consumers want to know about their food. Those labels aren’t cheap and to help reduce costs (or possibly hide a flood of low quality beef) supermarket chain Giant removed the grades from beef cuts to simply say “USDA Graded”. While the label was truthful it was still misleading because having grades like “choice” and “select” on the package is standard with nearly 94% of beef being graded.  “Food labeling has become an incredibly powerful marketing tool,” says Bill Marler, a lawyer and food safety expert. Labeling also is very profitable. About $377 billion worth of food is sold in the U.S. and labeled with the 35 common claims like “natural,” “organic” and “carb conscious”.

Replacing Hay with Corn

Replacing hay in your ration with corn this winter could be beneficial.

According to Warren Rusche, cow-calf field specialist at SDSU Extension, low corn prices could make winter feeding a little easier and cheaper because less hay would be required if corn is added to the ration.