Adoption of Technology Important to Success
Virginia Tech Department of Animal & Poultry Science
Dramatic developments in technology and management systems in the beef industry have occurred in the past 40 years. Successful producers are those who examine the available options and fit them to their operations. Although there are many technologies/systems to choose from, let’s look at a few of the popular options.
Advancements in ultrasound technology in the 1980s and 90s, along with expected progeny differences (EPDs), have allowed producers to improve carcass characteristics in seedstock. Operations that use ultrasound carcass evaluation are able to select animals with more desirable ribeye areas or marbling, or to focus on the combination of these traits to meet breeding objectives without costly progeny testing. Commercial bull buyers are willing to pay more for bulls that have ultrasound carcass information available.
Artificial insemination (AI)
Although AI has been available in the cattle industry since the 1940s, the percentage of beef cows bred AI in the U.S. is still less than 10%. Costs per pregnancy for AI-bred cows are higher than cows bred natural service. However, proper marketing of AI-bred cows or AI-sired calves can result in greater returns to the operation. A commercial producer recently reported that AI-sired calves or calves from AI-sired dams were worth $53-$145 more when sold as finished calves (Tim Sutphin, 2005 Proceedings of the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle, Lexington, Ky.). In our area commercial heifers bred AI to calving ease sires bring $50 to $100 more than heifers bred to low accuracy natural service sires. Commercial bulls sired by AI bulls often outsell bulls sired by natural service bulls because of greater accuracy of EPDs as well as excellence in more traits.
Enhancing feeder calf immunity with vaccinations for bovine respiratory diseases and blackleg, in addition to weaning 45-60 days before sale, is termed preconditioning or backgrounding. This process adds value to feeder calves because they adapt rapidly to the feedlot environment and stay healthy. Over the last nine years, buyers have been willing to pay $20-$35 more per calf for calves sold in the Virginia Quality Assured Certified Feeder Calf Program. Other preconditioning/backgrounding programs across the U.S. report similar results.
These are just a few examples of the myriad of technologies and management systems available to beef producers today. Be sure to:
- Study the relative costs and benefits of the technology
- Use the benefits to effectively and honestly market cattle
- Commit to the management changes that must occur to make adoption and implementation of the technology successful
Using technology to improve the beef business doesn’t have to be risky; many proven technologies are underutilized in our industry. Examine your operation and take advantage of the opportunities!
Plans Moving Forward for S.D. Beef Plant
Ann Bagel, Meatingplace.com, reports that a rezoning request was approved last week for a Northern Beef Packers plant to be built one mile south of Aberdeen, S.D.
Dennis Hellwig of Northern Beef Packers told the Associated Press that construction could begin later this summer, and the facility could be processing cattle by next spring. He predicts the plant would process 300 head of cattle a day with 200 to 250 workers at first, but that daily slaughter could eventually reach 1,500 cattle with 500 workers.
Canada’s Seventh Case of BSE
Statement by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns
July 13, 2006
"Today, Canada announced a case of BSE in a 50 month old animal from Alberta. While the United States and Canada have a strong system in place to protect animal and human health, the diagnosis of BSE in an animal born roughly four and half years after the implementation of the 1997 ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban does raise questions that must be answered.
"We need a thorough understanding of all the circumstances involved in this case to assure our consumers that Canada's regulatory system is effectively providing the utmost protections to consumers and livestock. I am dispatching a USDA expert to participate in the investigation of this case, particularly as it relates to how this animal may have been exposed to BSE infected material. We have been assured by our Canadian counterparts that they welcome having our experts participate side-by-side with their investigators."
Canada Changing Bluetongue Policy; Good for U.S. Exports
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has revised its import policy, based on an updated scientific risk analysis, to eliminate current bluetongue-related control measures for cattle, sheep and other ruminants imported from the U.S.
Bluetongue can affect wild and domestic ruminant animals but does not pose any human health risk. CFIA animal health experts have determined that the potential for bluetongue to spread in Canada, both in livestock and wildlife, is very limited. The insect that spreads the disease is not present in eastern Canada and has been shown to have a poor capacity to spread the disease in western Canada. Furthermore, climatic conditions limit potential transmission to only a short period each year, within a restricted geographic region.
As a precaution, the CFIA will enhance its bluetongue surveillance, moving from triennial to annual monitoring. This activity, coupled with ongoing research and risk assessments, is intended to provide ongoing confirmation that risks to Canadian livestock and wildlife remain very low.
Regulatory processes needed to bring the revised policy into effect will be completed in the coming months.
“CFIA’s decision to lift import restrictions regarding bluetongue on all classes of cattle, sheep, deer, goats and other ruminants imported year round into western Canada from any state in the United States will significantly reduce the burden on U.S. livestock producers shipping ruminants to Canada by allowing for year round importation on all classes of ruminants and eliminating costly bluetongue testing requirements,” says U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Chuck Lambert.