Tag Archives: cattle

LINCOLN –Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement blasting a new initiative by New York City (NYC) Mayor Bill de Blasio that proposes to reduce beef consumption by 50 percent and end the use of processed meat in NYC’s municipal facilities.

“Bill de Blasio’s war on beef is anti-agriculture and anti-science,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists, and they help raise the best beef in the world.  I know the people of New York City enjoy Nebraska beef, because the Department of Agriculture and I have worked to promote Nebraska beef in the city.  I urge the people of New York to reject this senseless plan.”

LINCOLN, NEB. – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to slash meat consumption in schools and other city facilities is being slammed in a letter by Nebraska Farm Bureau. De Blasio’s Green New Deal, a wide-ranging initiative, includes reducing purchases of beef by 50 percent at all city-controlled facilities, including schools, prisons and hospitals.

“This ‘strategic initiative’ aimed at reducing the city’s contribution toward climate change ignores both climate and nutritional science, and only serves to further divide urban and rural populations. As the largest agricultural organization representing the second largest beef producing state, we urge you to reconsider this initiative and help us tell the great story of beef sustainability,” Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president wrote June 13.

New York City also plans to phase out all processed meat products purchased by city agencies. The agricultural sector, and beef in particular, has become the focus of attention by activists who want to highlight the impact eating meat has on global carbon emissions.

“Unfortunately, one of the most harmful and erroneous myths that exist in public discourse today is that U.S. beef production is destroying the planet. The truth, which is backed by peer-reviewed science, is that U.S. beef producers are producing far more beef with fewer inputs and contribute fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than what they are blamed for,” Nelson said.

According to a study recently published in the academic journal Agricultural Systems, beef cattle production only accounted for 3.3 percent of all U.S.GHG. By comparison, transportation, and electricity generation together produced 56 percent. It is also important to note that when compared to 1977, today’s beef producers produce the same amount of beef with 33 percent fewer animals.

“This improved efficiency has reduced the industry’s carbon footprint by 16 percent and has reduced the industry’s consumption of both water and feed as well. Outside of the environmental factors, it should also be noted that today’s beef industry contributes to rangeland health, medical, and pharmaceutical products/research, as well as being one of the most healthy and nutrient rich food products available,” he stated.

Farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalist. Advancements made in U.S. plant and animal technology, genetics, and nutrition have created the most efficient and environmentally friendly food system in the history of the world.

“Unfortunately, despite our success, many of those whose only connection to production agriculture involves three meals a day, seem to be the most vocal about what they perceive are the shortcomings in our industry. It is our hope you look beyond your own very large urban backyard and come visit the American farm and ranch families who devote their lives to producing the food, fiber, and fuel. We would be happy to host you in Nebraska at any time,” Nelson wrote.

Fort Pierre Livestock Auction recently kicked off the summer with a successful fund-raiser that generated more than $22,100 for R-CALF USA. Fort Pierre Livestock Auction has been a leader for many years in generating memberships and contributions for the national organization. The monies and memberships generated from calf sales are used to help R-CALF USA succeed in its mission to improve domestic cattle prices and to maintain a healthy, viable cattle industry in the United States.
“Last Friday’s calf sale was a big success, thanks to Dean and Delia Johnson who donated yet another yearling steer for the event,” said Bryan Hanson, co-owner of Ft. Pierre Livestock Auction and former R-CALF USA president.
Hanson added: “Producers’ bottom line is the price of their cattle, and the producers who contributed at the calf sale are aware that R-CALF is the only national organization that’s working for just them on issues that directly affect their bottom line.
“As far as businesses that contributed at the calf sale, from the banks to the vet clinic to the ag supply, they did it because their business doesn’t survive without customers, and they realize the organization is there to try to make it profitable for all U.S. cattle ranchers.”
Willie Cowan, R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard, and R-CALF Founder Herman Schumacher at R-CALF Informational Meeting at Ft. Pierre Livestock June 3.

Hanson said local auction markets are a true price discovery for producers as feeder cattle still sell on an open and competitive market at a livestock auction. He said auction markets provide the facility to take care of the cattle and sort them the way they need to be sorted and like almost any local business, they are pretty large contributors back to their communities.

“Our cattle producers are what makes our business a business, so we do our best to fight for our cattle producers because, if not, pretty soon everything will be corporate-controlled just like it is in the chicken and hog industries – where there are no sale barns because there is no need for any. It’d be pretty tough if you were trying to run a sale barn selling hogs right now.
“Our customers need money in their pockets to pay their bills and keep their livelihood before it’s too late,” Hanson concluded.
“We need country-of-origin labels on the beef we produce. Everything else in this country gets to put a label on their product and I don’t understand why we cattle producers can’t,” said Delia Johnson, who along with her husband are cow/calf producers and longtime R-CALF USA members.
The Johnsons raise cattle in western South Dakota. They started in the cattle business together in 1981. “It’s been Dean and I for a lot of years and we were able to bring our son and his fiancé into the business, this was our son’s first R-CALF USA calf sale,” said Delia Johnson.
“We are excited about getting the next generation involved and that’s why we’ve got to fight to get this market back. These kids can’t feed their kids if we can’t come up with a better way to market our cattle and get some money out of them again and country-of-origin labeling if it was enforced, would make all the difference in the world.
Cattle producers attending R-CALF Informational Meeting June 4 in Gregory, SD.

“R-CALF USA is the only ally fighting for us. This is our last-ditch, we have to get our cattle markets turned around or we’re not going to be able to hand our business over to the next generation, and so donating a calf for R-CALF USA is something we feel we need to do to help,” she concluded.

Since elected to R-CALF USA’s Board of directors last February, Brett Kenzy has organized two fund-raisers and two informational meetings in his region. Calf sales in South Dakota at Platte Livestock Market and Winner Livestock Auction generated upwards of $5,000 each in contributions and memberships to support the organization’s work.
Kenzy and his family operate a backgrounding feedlot and maintain a commercial cow herd in south central South Dakota. “We get a lot of beef news but not a lot of factual data concerning purely cattle production and what has happened to our markets. R-CALF USA’s research and factual data answers a lot of the questions producers have about what’s really happening to them,” he said.
“We are the organization that works solely on producers’ behalf, their profitability is our total reason to have an organization called R-CALF, “Basically, we are just producers that care enough to do something about it. We pool our resources whether its financial and/or intellectual resources to try to change the things that need changed in our cattle industry.
“If we don’t try, everything just stays the same. R-CALF USA provides a framework for a way forward. It’s not just about today, or yesterday, it’s about tomorrow.
“I feel it’s my responsibility as an individual as well as everybody else’s to be involved if they want to have a future in this business, it’s on each of us as individuals to band together and push the policies that we believe in,” Kenzy concluded.

GENEVA, Neb. (AP) — A 30-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to theft and other charges in connection with the discovery of hundreds of dead, ailing or neglected cattle at his farm in southern Nebraska’s Fillmore County.

Court records say Aaron Ogren entered pleas Tuesday to the 40 counts facing him. They include nine counts of prohibited sale of livestock and 30 counts of cruelty to animals. Prosecutors say Ogren sold bulls he didn’t own. A trial date hasn’t been set.

In April local and state officials removed about 200 surviving head of cattle from the feedlot about 3 miles  northwest of Exeter. Another 200 cows were found dead.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The American Angus Association announced Mark McCully as chief executive officer. McCully will start his role June 10. As CEO, he will lead the Association and serve as the vice chairman for each of the Association’s entities: Angus Media, Certified Angus Beef LLC, Angus Genetics Inc., and the Angus Foundation.

“This truly is a proud day for the Association and the breed,” said John Pfeiffer, Association Board of Directors president. “Mark has grown up in the cattle business and possesses unique insight into all segments of beef production, his knowledge and leadership have served CAB well, and he will help to continue to drive the demand for Angus genetics globally.”

McCully brings 23 years of experience to the table, most recently serving as vice president of production for CAB. In his role, Mark drove supply chain innovation for the brand and helped develop and implement best management practices with cattlemen to increase brand acceptance rates. In addition, Mark led global production initiatives, streamlining processes for improved product quality, and served in many industry leadership positions.

“I’m honored and truly thrilled to serve this incredible breed and its membership,” McCully said. “The Association has such a rich and successful heritage. That history, coupled with breeders always striving to produce the best Angus cattle in the world, and an incredibly bright and talented staff, I have nothing but optimism and excitement for our future.”

McCully started at CAB in 2000 as director of packing before developing and coordinating a regional sales team, and in 2005, he transitioned to supply development and production. Prior to joining CAB, he worked for Southern States Cooperative where he managed the beef improvement program and value-added feeder cattle marketing programs for cattlemen within a 22-state region. He also served as an intercollegiate livestock judging team coach, taught livestock evaluation classes and coordinated the animal science department undergraduate internship program at Michigan State University before joining Southern States.

He graduated with his Associate’s Degree from Lake Land College, Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois University and conducted master’s research in ruminant nutrition and feedlot management at Michigan State University, where he studied under three Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery inductees — Dr. Dave Hawkins, Dr. Maynard Hogberg and Dr. Harlan Ritchie.

McCully was raised on a small family farm in central Illinois. As a youth, he was very involved in showing cattle, livestock judging, actively engaged in 4-H and FFA, and was awarded the FFA Star Farmer of Illinois in 1989. McCully currently resides in Wooster, Ohio, with his wife, Gerry. They have two children. Austin will be a junior at Case Western Reserve University majoring in computer science and economics with plans of attending law school. Maddy will be a senior in high school and in the process of making her college selection to pursue a degree in neuroscience.

For more information about the American Angus Association and the new CEO, please visit angus.org.

Whether it’s by choice or because of a natural disaster, there are times when cows and calves end up in a drylot. The good news is it can work.

For Alan Eck, drylotting is a choice. The 26-year old Henderson, Maryland, farmer is growing his operation, which includes corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, straw, hogs and broilers — as well as a small cow/calf and finishing operation. He doesn’t have the land available to graze year-round yet, so cows and calves spend April through October in a pen at a former dairy. They graze rye cover crops in the winter.

University of Nebraska cow/calf specialist Karla Jenkins says, “Buying pastureland can be cost-prohibitive for young people. Management for cows in drylots is a little different, but it can be quite feasible.”

In a 2016 University of Nebraska study, researchers compared the break-even price per pound of weaned calves and found a total confinement system for cows and calves was the most expensive production system, with a production price of $2.11 per pound. A system where cows were kept in a drylot only in the summer, grazing cornstalks the rest of the year, was the least-expensive system, at $1.31 per pound.

Jenkins notes actual break-even costs depended on a number of factors, including feed and health costs, cow costs and other inputs. There’s also the drought factor.

“A drylot is a means to keep people from cutting quite so deep in their herd,” she says. “When you have to start culling those younger cows, it hurts financially, especially considering replacement cost.”


When it comes to managing cows and calves in a drylot, University of Georgia Extension animal scientist Jacob Segers tends to think of feed challenges first.

“Normally, in our area, [use of drylots] is due to a problem that causes pasture loss. I’m concerned that cows get enough nutrients and roughage in their diet. You don’t want them to drop a lot of weight. To keep the rumen healthy, they need [to consume] at least one-half a percent of their body weight per head per day of roughage. For a 1,200-pound cow, that is 6 to 7 pounds of long-stem hay or wheat straw, or some kind of effective fiber.”

In a drought or any disaster, Segers notes hay quickly gets scarce and prohibitively priced. He says producers can turn to substitutes like cotton gin trash or peanut hulls. In Nebraska, Jenkins says ranchers often use baled corn stalks or wheat straw to help cows get enough roughage, or they feed byproducts like beet pulp.

“You can get creative, but it is important to know the cow’s nutrient needs during each stage of production, as well as nutrient levels of the feed,” she stresses.


Because use of a drylot is a regular part of Alan Eck’s production system, he normally has an ample supply of homegrown grass hay that he feeds free-choice. In addition, he feeds a mix of homegrown ground corn and barley, along with soybean meal. He puts everything in a self-feeder and says cows eat an average of 10 pounds per head per day. Ration cost averages around 61 cents per head per day.

Eck hasn’t seen any acidosis or bloat in his cows, but Segers cautions this can be a problem when cows are offered a grain mix free-choice. If that happens, he limit-feeds or makes a hot mix with salt to lower consumption.

When limit-feeding, he stresses it’s important to make sure there is enough trough space. He recommends 28 to 36 inches of bunk space per cow. Make sure both water sources and feedbunks are low enough for calves to reach. They will start eating feed early this way, and that will help rumen development.

Eck has seen that benefit firsthand. He says it’s an advantage to have calves eating grain mix beside their dams. He uses the same ration for weaning and finishing, so this early exposure smooths the transition.

It is important to make sure cows and calves have enough room in a drylot. Segers recommends 500 to 800 square feet per cow/calf pair. In the Midwest and the Plains, where spring is often cold and wet, Jenkins says calving in drylots adds challenges.

She recommends calving on fallow crop ground rather than in a drylot, so baby calves aren’t in the mud. If that’s not an option, she says to consider adjusting calving season to keep them out of the lot when they are more vulnerable to illness. It’s also important to remember all calves in a drylot may need immunity boosts and more frequent vaccinations to stay healthy.


Putting cows and calves in a drylot is a choice for some. For Florida’s John Hill, it was the only option he had, and in his mind, it was not a very good one.

Hill’s experience with a semi-drylot situation began Oct. 10, 2018, when Hurricane Michael hit his Marianna farm and wiped out almost every fence on his 350-cow registered and commercial Angus operation. And, with the power out, he had no way to run his wells and water cattle.

“There was a pond where the grown cows were, so I put the yearling heifers and bred heifers in with them,” Hill says.

That left 60 mature cows, including 12 that had just calved, and both groups of heifers for a total of 200 head in a 50-acre pasture. While there was bahiagrass in the pasture when the hurricane hit, it was going dormant and was quickly grazed down.

The hurricane did blow 25 rolls of hay into the pasture from the adjoining hayfield, so he relied on it, although he says a wet summer lowered the quality.

Supplementing cattle wasn’t a workable solution. “We’re not equipped to feed commodities; we don’t have a feed wagon or enough troughs,” he explains. Plus, two of his tractors were out of commission because of hurricane damage.

Rather than try to gear up to feed the 200 head, he, along with friends, family and volunteers, worked brutal hours to clear paths in the downed trees to get cattle to water and to make lanes for trucks to haul them out.

Hill shipped the yearling heifers to sale but says the few weeks with no supplement set them back badly. The bred heifers went to ZWT Ranch, in Tennessee, where his friends there are calving them out and rebreeding them, and they’ll stay until he can get his fences up.

Even though it was late, he did get winter annuals planted for his cows and calves, and is using the high-quality forage to put condition back on them. He is also still working nonstop to clear downed trees off fencelines and rebuild his 15 miles of fence, so he can group his cattle by age and stage of production, and supplement them, as needed.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million head on May 1, 2019. The inventory was 2% above May 1, 2018. This is the highest May 1 inventory since the series began in 1996, USDA reported Friday.

Placements in feedlots during April totaled 1.84 million head, 9% above 2018. Net placements were 1.78 million head. During April, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 355,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 250,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 447,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 495,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 210,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 85,000 head.

Darrell Holaday, Country Futures, believes the report to be bullish: https://post.futurimedia.com/krvnam/playlist/cattle-on-feed-with-darrell-holaday-6794.html

Marketings of fed cattle during April totaled 1.93 million head, 7% above 2018.

Other disappearance totaled 60,000 head during April, 5% below 2018.

“Even though these numbers continue to show growing inventory, on-feed levels and placed cattle numbers are well below estimated levels,” said DTN Analyst Rick Kment. “This is expected to result in mixed trade direction Tuesday with increased inventory quickly offset by traders’ anticipation of an even more bearish report. Cattle marketed through the month of April increased 7%, which beat pre-report estimates, focusing on continued aggressive product movement and demand support.”


View the full Cattle on Feed report in the Livestock Archives folder under the Markets menu. The report is also available at https://www.nass.usda.gov/….

USDA Actual Average Guess Range
On Feed May 1 102.0% 103.1% 102.3-103.8%
Placed in April 109.0% 114.4% 109.7-118.9%
Marketed in April 107.0% 106.6% 105.9-107.1%

DENVER — In meetings last week, the Producer Traceability Council reached consensus on two major points to increase the number of cattle identified in the U.S. The Council unanimously agreed the best option for the cattle industry moving forward is to work toward the adoption of a High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency (HF/UHF) radio identification system and the timeline for adoption of the system mirror that of USDA’s timeline for the sunsetting of the metal tags with complete implementation no later than January 1, 2023.

The newly formed Producer Traceability Council has evolved and was established independently of the Cattle Traceability Working Group (CTWG). The focus is specifically on ways to increase the number of cattle identified with electronic identification devices, increase the number of sightings of identified cattle, identify methods of data storage, and suggest cost sharing scenarios, while taking into consideration and minimizing negative effects on producers.

“The cattle traceability issue is complex and concerns nearly everyone involved in the production, marketing, processing, and animal health aspects of the industry,” said Chuck Adami, co-chair of the Council and CEO of Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Assn. “The importance of a workable traceability system cannot be overstated given the need to effectively trace animals in the event of an animal health event. In addition, increasing pressure from consumers and our export partners demanding a robust traceability system solidifies the need to get a system in place sooner rather than later.”

Currently, cattle in the U.S. are traced using a variety of systems and methods depending on the state in which the cattle are located, the age of cattle, and the type of identification the cattle may, or may not have. In some cases, this lack of consistency and use of effective technology hampers the efforts to complete timely and effective tracebacks and trace-outs.

“Being deeply involved in the cattle business, I feel it is imperative that we come together as producers and help lead the effort to enhance cattle traceability,” said Joe Leathers, Council co- chair, TAHC Commissioner and General Manager of the 6666 Ranch near Guthrie, Texas. “It just makes sense that we, as producers, use the best technology available so that while traceability is being achieved, we are also able to better manage our operations using that technology.”

While there continue to be obstacles that will need to be overcome, including how such technology will be paid for and by whom, protection from the misuse of data collected, and the development of secure data systems to transfer information, the Producer Traceability Council is optimistic that continuing this work will lead to success.

The harsh conditions in Kansas this past winter have prompted one of the state’s leading weather agencies to develop a tool that will help cattle producers in the future.

Officials with the Kansas Mesonet, a Kansas State University-based network of weather monitoring stations across the state, has announced the release of the Cattle Comfort Index, a tool that they say will help cattle producers better monitor the needs of their herds during normal and extreme weather conditions.

The tool is available at mesonet.k-state.edu/agriculture/animal.

“We’ve already had a lot of negative impacts on the cattle industry because of the cold temperatures this winter,” said Mary Knapp, the assistant state climatologist with Kansas Mesonet. “This tool will also look at extreme high temperatures.”

The Cattle Comfort Index compiles such climatological factors as weather, humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and more to help producers determine the level of stress their animals may be experiencing at any given time.

“The index is driven by our five-minute data that is available from Kansas Mesonet,” Knapp said. “It will be calculated real-time and updated on a regular basis so that producers can see how that will change during the day.”

The climate information is gathered from each of the Mesonet’s 61 reporting stations in Kansas. For each, the system reports the perceived comfort level of cattle in that area, from no stress, to mild, moderate and severe.

Knapp said, “the actual animal response to temperature stress will be dependent on a number of factors not accounted for in the index,” including age, hair coat, health, body condition, micro-environment, and acclimatization.

“The index shown may start off at a reasonable comfort level in the morning, but as you get into the afternoon when that heat starts developing and the humidity hasn’t abated, that’s when you can get some of the heaviest stress on the livestock,” she said. “A chart will show the level over time, but historical data is limited to the week, ending with the current day.”

The tool was developed from research conducted at the University of Nebraska. The Kansas Mesonet website includes a map that shows conditions across the state and how that might play into risk for cattle.