Tight Breeding Seasons Critical to Beef Operations
John B. Hall
Virginia Tech Department of Animal & Poultry Science
Keeping breeding and calving seasons short is important for profitability of commercial and purebred herds. In commercial herds, short calving seasons result in increased weaning weights and enhanced uniformity. Purebred herds benefit from larger contemporary groups that improve genetic evaluation and selection.
Calves in commercial herds will be 35-45 lb. lighter at weaning for every 21 days later they are born in the calving season. In the current market, the decrease in weaning weight translates into a $21-$36 reduction in calf value for every 21 days younger a calf is at weaning. The amount of reduction is related to average weaning weight and the amount of “slide” for increasing or decreasing weight from the average weight.
A breeding season length of 60 days for purebred operations and 75-90 days for commercial operations are good goals. Barriers to reducing the length of the breeding/calving season include thin cows, late-calving cows and first-calf heifers. Proper nutritional management is important for thin cows as well as first-calf heifers. Using estrous synchronization, with or without artificial insemination (AI), assists with early rebreeding in all problem groups once nutritional challenges are addressed.
Administration of progesterone in the form of an EAZI-BREED™ CIDR® (cows or heifers) or melengestrol acetate (MGA) (heifers only) for seven to 10 days to problem cows can induce estrous cycles and reduce the length of the calving season. Bulls can be introduced 13 days after the progesterone treatment is completed. To breed cows by AI, estrous synchronization systems recommended by the North Central Region (NCR) Bovine Reproductive Task Force should be used. Descriptions of these systems can be found in most AI company catalogs.
For more detailed information on reproductive management or estrous synchronization systems, contact your local Extension service or veterinarian. You can obtain proceedings of the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Symposium (ARSBC) on the ARSBC Symposium Web site for producers in the East or the ARSBC Web site for producers in the West.
Genex to Market Bovigen Beef Tests
On April 18, Genex Cooperative Inc. and Bovigen LLC announced the start of a marketing agreement. Beginning in May, Bovigen’s GeneSTAR®Tenderness and Quality Grade, GeneSTARBlack and SireTRACE™ tests will be available through the Genex marketing force and custom collection facilities. The actual testing will continue to be conducted by Bovigen.
The GeneSTAR Tenderness and Quality Grade tests are most often used by breeders and producers who want to make significant genetic improvements in their herds. The tests predict, at an earlier age, which animals are most likely to provide optimal marbling and tenderness.
GeneSTAR Black is a coat color test that identifies if black-coated animals have two copies of the black coat color gene and are homozygous, or if they also carry a copy of the red color gene and are heterozygous. Homozygous black individuals will always produce black progeny.
SireTRACE™ is a cattle DNA fingerprinting and parentage test that identifies the offspring of a particular sire. Because SireTRACE confirms parentage, beef producers who use multiple sires in a single pasture, or who turn out a herd bull immediately after artificial insemination, will be able to identify the sire of any calf born, enabling them to identify the sire with superior genetics.
For more information, visit the Bovigen Web site or call (877) BEEF-DNA.
Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns:
Canada's Fifth Case Of BSE
April 16, 2006
"With the confirmation of a new BSE case in Canada, Minister Strahl has invited the United States to participate in the epidemiologic investigation. We will dispatch a USDA animal health expert to Canada on Monday.
"Information gathered through this investigation will help us to determine what, if any, impact this should have on our beef and live cattle trade with Canada. Based on the information currently available, I do not anticipate a change in the status of our trade.
"It is important to note that Canada's monitoring system identified this animal as one that should be removed from the food and feed supply chain, ensuring food safety continues to be protected."
NCBA Submits Comments on Proposed Dust Regulations
Members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ditch its proposed regulation of fugitive dust. NCBA cites a lack of scientific validity, flawed assumptions regarding coarse particulate matter concentration levels and a preponderance of technical evidence demonstrating that fugitive dust from agriculture operations presents no public health concerns.
For NCBA’s full comments to EPA and links to extensive reference exhibits submitted, visit the NCBA Web site.
USMEF Researching New Alternative Cuts for Export
U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) representatives visited with U.S. packers this week to identify beef and pork “alternative cuts or items” and determine if these cuts can have added value, primarily through packaging, for export to Latin America.
“One of the key export products to the region has been pork and beef variety meat,” says Ricardo Vernazza-Paganini, USMEF director of Central and South America. “While variety meat is low in demand and price in the U.S. market, these products are largely consumed by Central and South American consumers. Therefore, we understand there is an opportunity to increase the margins of these low-value commodities.”
Latin America now accounts for less than 2% of all beef and pork exports from the U.S. This leaves companies uninspired to produce products specifically tailored for the Latin America market, according to Vernazza-Paganini.
“We want to raise the level of awareness of this market by visiting packers and investigating the potential for targeting this market with cuts that may be left over after packers have shipped cuts specific to other markets,” says Kevin Smith, USMEF assistant director of export services.
An additional trip is scheduled this fall for USMEF to visit importers in Latin American countries and share information on the U.S. visits. Upon return, an analysis of the collected information from both trips will be discussed and possibilities regarding new product development will begin.
After these steps have been taken, USMEF plans to organize seminars for U.S. packers in the spring of 2007 as a way of sharing the findings and product ideas generated from the meetings.
More Than $70 Million Available for Land Protection
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the availability of more than $70 million to protect agricultural land in 50 states and Puerto Rico through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) in fiscal year 2006.
"Preserving the nation's prime agricultural farm and ranch lands helps to ensure a vibrant future for American agriculture," says Johanns. "Once protected by conservation easements, this land will be shielded from development pressure and continue to support our safe and abundant food supply."
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking proposals from state, federally recognized tribal and local governments, and non-governmental organizations interested in working together to acquire conservation easements on farms and ranches. NRCS state offices must receive proposals by 5 p.m. EDT on May 11, 2006. NRCS is expected to announce final project selections in June.
For eligibility requirements and further information, visit the USDA NRCS Web site.
CRP Deadlines Extended to April 28
The sign-up deadlines for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the special CRP re-enrollment and extension opportunities have been extended until April 28. The deadline for both opportunities was originally April 14.
For more information, contact your local FSA office or visit the USDA FSA Web site.
Ultrasound Training Available This Summer
Interested in becoming certified as a carcass ultrasound technician? Beginner and advanced training courses will be offered in Ames, Iowa, this summer. Beginner training will also be offered in Vermilion, Alberta, Canada. For course dates and details, visit the CUP Lab Web site.
New Ag Communications Scholarship Up for Grabs
Applications are now available online for the first annual Ag Communications Scholarship, presented jointly through Agri-News, Stockman Bank, Western Livestock Reporter, and Northern Ag Network. As many as three scholarships totaling up to $4,500 will be awarded to graduating high school seniors planning to attend a college or university with the long-term goal of working in ag communications. Preference will be given to students from agriculture backgrounds who want to serve rural people in their careers. A printable version of the application is available online on the Cattle Plus Web site. Applications must be postmarked by May 15.
BIF Coverage Online
Online coverage of the 2006 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Annual Meeting and Research Symposium is available on the BIF Conference Web site.
Coverage includes a detailed schedule, past award winners and archived presentations, as well as synopses of presentations at this year’s conference, audios of the sessions and PowerPoint® presentations.