Regional ESAP Winners Announced

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enviro-awards The six regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winners were honored during the 2016 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting. The winners hail from locations across the country, and were nominated for their outstanding efforts to protect land, air and water resources on their individual farming and ranching operations. The regional winners will now compete for the 26th national ESAP award, which will be announced in February 2017.

The awards were developed to recognize beef producers for their efforts to hep improve the environmental sustainability of their operations.

The 2016 regional winners are: Huntingdon Farm, John and Kathryn Dawes, Alexandria, Pa.; Stoney Creek Farm, Grant, Dawn and Karlie Breikreutz, Redwood Falls, Minn.; Turkey Track Ranch, Dale Smith and Jay O’Brien, Amarillo, Texas; Cherry Creek Ranch, Lon and Vicki Reukauf, Terry, Mont.; Smith Creek Ranch, LTD, Samuel Lossing, Duane Coombs, Ray Hendrix, Austin, Nev.; Black Leg Ranch, Jerry and Renae Doan; Jeremy and Ashlee Doan; Jay and Kari Doan; Jayce Doan; Shanda and Don Morgan, McKenzie, N.D.

One winner, Stoney Creek Farm, owned by Gant and Dawn Breitkreutz, is a 3rd generation commercial Red Angus farm and custom baling business located in South Central Minnesota. The family works closely with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Minnesota DNR to implement numerous conservation practices to sustainably increase production and improve soil health. By implementing a strategic prescribed grazing plan, they have improved the health of their pastures and went from grazing 58 cow/calf pairs on 128 acres three months of the year to grazing 120 or more pairs for six months of the year.

“Grant and Dawn have been innovators of integrating cattle and prescribed grazing systems into conservation farming practices in the state of Minnesota,” said Ashley Kohls, Minnesota Cattlemen’s Association executive director. “The countless hours they spend learning more about sustainable farming practices are matched by the number of hours they spend promoting these practices and the culture of conservation to both fellow cattlemen as well as consumers.”

Another winner was the Turkey Track Ranch, owned by the Whittenburg and Cole families of Texas.

Before their purchase, the land was the site of two historic battles of the Old West between the Native Americans and the westward bound settlers, and thanks to careful stewardship, the land has remained virtually unchanged from those years. It offers remarkable beauty, history and ecological diversity, while supporting a profitable cow-calf herd and stocker operation. Increased water availability and improving grass species diversity, even after one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, have also enhanced the ranch’s success.

“What I’ve been most proud of is how we were able to weather the drought and still have the forage resources to support more cattle. And we were geared up and ready to go when the rains did come,” said Turkey Track manager Dale Smith.

Ag Group, Audio, Beef, Conservation, environment, NCBA, sustainability

Seasonal Effects on Milk Components

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hubbard-milkfat As summer swings into full force, you may be seeing a decline in milk fat and protein concentrations. These components tend to peak in the winter months and fall to their lowest point around July and August. Jon Pretz, Dairy Nutritionist, and Dr. Sarah Schuling, Dairy R & D Nutritionist with Hubbard Feeds, have offered some insight into the decline, as well as ways to keep it to a minimum this summer.

Heat stress is a major cause in the decline, as heat stress may cause animals to have lower levels of blood protein and energy, both of which can influence milk and milk fat yields. Cows also tend to slug feed during cooler periods of the day, so as not to increase the heat of digestion, and this can result in periods of luminal acidosis and resulting decrease in milk fat content.

A recent trial conducted in Australia determined that heat stressed animals also have lower milk protein content than animals in a thermal neutral climate. This is due to cows using more amino acids, which are typically used for protein production, for energy production in times of extreme heat compared to normal conditions. the cow prefers to use AA for protein production, and fewer AA may be available for milk protein production.

Some nutritional strategies that can held improve milk components in the summer include increasing sodium bicarbonate levels by around 8 ounces. This improves rumen buffering capacity. Also, try to feed more digestible forages to high producing cows, which reduces the heat of digestion. Increase the fat content of rations with rumen inert fat, which will improve the energy supply, and feed higher metabolizable protein diets.

Higher protein diets can better match the increased amino acid supply with demand. Balancing rations for lysine and methionine can also be helpful by Improving the efficiency of use of total dietary protein.

The final tip: don’t feed excess, and it causes energy to be wasted in order to metabolize the excess RDP.

The entire article can be found here.

Ag Group, Animal Health, Cattle, Dairy, dairy farming, Milk, Nutrition

USRSB Completes Annual Meeting

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USRSB-logo The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) concluded its second annual General Assembly meeting this week. This year’s meeting focused on reviewing accomplishments over the past year, aligning to a work plan for the coming year and approval of a strategic plan for the future which will guide the group’s efforts to improve beef sustainability moving forward.

“We had about 150 participants here for this year’s meeting, so we’re very pleased with the turnout and engagement for advancing the USRSB efforts,” said USRSB Chairman John Butler, a cattle producer from Kansas. “Each of the stakeholder groups were well represented. During this first year we’ve accomplished two key goals. We approved a strategic plan which provides a roadmap for the future and will guide our efforts for the next couple of years.”

One of this year’s key developments for USRSB was the creation of high priority sustainability indicators for the beef industry. Six priority indicators of sustainability were determined in areas such as water resources and animal care. The indicators allow the beef value chain to benchmark its efforts, and help focus individual sustainability efforts in order to continually advance beef’s sustainability.

All six key areas also align with the beef checkoff-funded beef industry lifecycle assessment, so much of the initial benchmarking work is already complete and future improvements can be measured against work that is already complete and third-party certified.

“The next step for USRSB is the completion of an assurance framework from which to measure improvement. This next phase is an important one for our industry because it paves the way to demonstrate that companies and individuals all along the value chain are putting practices in place which advance our sustainability,” said Butler. “Under this framework, USRSB will provide the education and training resources for each segment of the beef supply chain. In the case of some companies, we’re already seeing value-added programs that are advancing our sustainability and providing a return on investment for the producers who are taking part in it, so it’s a very exciting time to be a part of the sustainability effort.”

Butler acknowledged that there has been a great deal of ambiguity about the true definition or meaning of sustainability, and that the efforts of USRSB are designed to resolve those questions and continue moving the beef value chain forward.

“The entire industry has a great deal of societal pressure to demonstrate responsibility,” he said. “By explaining what sustainability really is, documenting the good work we are already doing and then taking steps to improve, we can tell our story of sustainability and build trust in our product. Through these efforts, we can be more transparent with the consumer and that’s something we should all be able to embrace.”

Ag Group, Beef, Beef Checkoff, Meat, sustainability

NCC Recommends Changes to Organic Rule

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ncc The National Chicken Council (NCC) released a statement recommending revision or clarification of several key aspects of the latest proposed rule from the National Organic Program (NOP) that intends to enhance bird health, protect food safety, and maintain a viable organic program.

“NCC is concerned that the proposed rule imposes unreasonable costs and requirements of doubtful benefit on organic farmers, presents grave risks to animal health… and undermines ongoing international efforts to develop poultry welfare standards,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, in comments submitted yesterday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

NCC believes that the proposed standards may lead to an increase in the mortality rates for laying hens and broiler chickens from 5 to 8 percent, an increase of 60 percent. Mortality rates are a key indicator of animal welfare and flock health.

The proposed standards are also in direct opposition to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recommendations for biosecurity. Biosecurity has become of increased importance to poultry producers following the recent, devastating outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Dr. Peterson noted that the proposal drastically underestimates the cost of the requirements and the impact of those costs.

“NOP does not include the cost of an avian illness outbreak, the likelihood and magnitude of which is materially increased through the proposed outdoor access requirement.”

Ag Group, Agribusiness, Animal Health, Animal Welfare, APHIS, Chicken, National Chicken Council, Organic, Policy, usda

Summer Cattle Industry Conference Underway

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ncba-200 More than 700 cattle producers are gathered this week in Denver, Colo., for the annual Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting. The event includes meetings of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Cattlemen’s Beef Board, American National Cattlewomen and National Cattlemen’s Foundation. The annual Summer Business Meeting was created to help set the framework for policy and checkoff efforts on behalf of U.S. cattle producers for the year ahead.

The meeting kicked off with the Opening General Session. A panel of experts discussed the benefits of trade, specifically the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The panel was moderated by Oklahoma farm broadcaster Ron Hays, and included Kent Bacus, NCBA director of international trade, Thad Lively with the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and Bill Westman from the North American Meat Institute.

“Trade is a critical component of the cattle industry’s profitability, and expanding exports through current and future trade agreements like TPP hold tremendous potential for our producers,” said Tracy Brunner, NCBA president. “The panel at Opening General Session was a great opportunity to discuss the impacts of reducing the tax on U.S. beef into Japan and highlight the gains that can be made by growing export markets.”

Meetings for checkoff committees representing Convenience, Freedom to Operate, Global Growth, Beef’s Image, Market Research, Taste, Value and Nutrition and Health will be held during the week, as well as NCBA Policy committees, representing Agricultural and Food Policy; Tax and Credit; Cattle Health and Well-Being; Federal Lands; Cattle Marketing and International Trade; Property Rights and Environmental Management.

“These committee meetings on both the policy and checkoff sides of the organization are where the work of the association is done by our producer leaders and state affiliates to set the direction for the year ahead,” said Brunner. “The policy resolutions brought forward and the discussions at this meeting set the agenda for our efforts in Washington D.C. In the same way, the Checkoff committee meetings set the direction for checkoff programs to grow beef demand on behalf of all cattle producers as we conclude this year and look to 2017.”

Ag Group, Beef, Events

Hydration Tips from Sav-A-Chick 🐓

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sav-a-chick-hydrate Adjusting birds’ water in the summer can help them continue to thrive as temperatures rise, and Sav-A-Chick products has some tips to help keep chickens hydrated and reduce heat stress this summer.

“On average, a flock of seven adult birds should drink one gallon of water per day. Water is a great opportunity to provide additional nutrients,” says Julian (Skip) Olson, DVM, technical services manager for Milk Products. “To keep your birds hydrated and healthy, I recommend adding electrolytes, vitamins and probiotic supplements right into the water, especially during periods of heat stress.”

Electrolytes are an especially important nutrient for chickens. Comprised of minerals and alkalizing agents, they play an important role in controlling fluid balance in the body.

“Electrolytes are especially important in the summer or during times of heat stress because our bodies use them quicker,” says Olson. “The same is true for our chickens. When temperatures heat up, they often use electrolytes more quickly. To keep electrolyte levels stable, be sure water includes an electrolyte additive during times of heat stress.”

Electrolytes should be added right into the birds’ water. Sav-A-Chick Electrolyte and Vitamin Supplement Packs can be added directly into one gallon of water.

Adding probiotics to your birds’ water is another way to help reduce heat stress this summer. Probiotics can help with digestion by they providing beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.

“By populating the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria, pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella and Clostridium have less room to grow,” says Olson. “Adding probiotics to the water can help build beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. The more good bacteria in the digestive system, the less room for harmful bacteria.”

Sav-A-Chick Probiotic Supplements can be also added to chickens’ water for three days each month. Dr. Olson recommends adding both electrolytes and probiotics to the watering schedule during the hot summer months.

“Adding probiotics to the water three days per month is a simple and inexpensive way to help chickens thrive,” he says. “My top recommendation is to use a combination pack that includes both packages of electrolytes and probiotics.”

Ag Group, Animal Health, Chicken, Health, Nutrition, Supplements, Water

NJAA Recognizes Members at NJAS

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AngusLogoBlack The National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) recently recognized several exemplary NJAA members the National Junior Angus Show (NJAS) in Grand Island, Neb. Bob and Becky Tiedeman, Sarah McCall, and Joe and Susanne Bush all received honors and recognitions for their unique contributions to the NJAA.

Bob and Becky Tiedeman, and Joe and Susanne Bush, were each named the newest inductees into the prestigious Honorary Angus Foundation.

The Tiedemans have dedicated hours of their time to the sale of the Angus Foundation Heifer Package for many years, generously donated cash gifts to the Angus Foundation, and stayed active in the organization’s fundraising activities, donating and buying items in the Angus Foundation’s silent auction at the NJAS.

“Bob and Becky are always finding a way to give back to the Angus breed and help our Angus youth,” says Milford Jenkins, Angus Foundation president. “They love this industry and promoting what it stands for.”

The Bushes hope to pass on their passion for the Angus business to the next generation of Angus breeders, finds pride in helping youth however they can, and believe in the lessons learned from being in the agricultural community. They also recognize the importance of education and how it benefits those who will carry on the Angus breed and agriculture industry.

“We like to watch the kids as they take care of their animals,” Joe says. “The experiences they gain and the foundation it builds for them to go and be more productive adults is easily seen.”

The Bushes have also named the Angus Foundation as the primary charitable beneficiary for the bulk of their estate, and this year, the Bushes will award the first scholarship from the Joseph and Susanne Bush/J& S Angus Scholarship Endowment Fund. They began funding the scholarship in 2015 with a cash gift to the Angus Foundation.

Sarah McCall was nominated during the event for the Advisor of the Year award, and recognized her for her leadership, professionalism and compassion.

“For over three years, Dr. Sarah McCall has served the Virginia Junior Angus Association (VJAA) with exceptional dedication,” says William Fiske, former National Junior Angus Board (NJAB) member from Virginia. “Mrs. McCall and her family have embraced the activities and opportunities of the NJAA to not only encourage new members in their community, but across the entire state of Virginia.”

Ag Group, Angus, award, Beef, Education, scholarship

Southwest Equine Clinic Offering Standing MRI Services

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hallmarq-equine Brock Veterinary Clinic, in Lamesa, Texas, recently made the decision to install a new Hallmarq standing MRI unit in the clinic. Before the installation, the nearly 11,000 equine patients seen by Dr. Bo Brock each year would have to travel six to seven hours to the closest MRI.

“We see a lot of lameness and lower-leg issues in the horses that come to us,” says Dr. Brock, owner of the rural West Texas practice he started in 1992. “And in a region with a large number of horses and few diagnostic options close by, there was a real need for clients and patients to have more convenient access to diagnostic-imaging services.”

For some horse owners in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, the nearest MRI could be as long as a 12-hour drive to another practice in Arizona or Denver, making the hauling of an injured horse often impractical and very inconvenient.

Brock Veterinary Clinic is a 24-year-old mixed-animal practice, which includes seven veterinarians and 25 staff members, and serves clients with a wide variety of performance and race horses. The practice provides a wide range of orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, rehabilitation and other services for their patients.

The Hallmarq standing MRI is a safer alternative to the conventional recumbent large-animal MRI units, because it doesn’t require anesthesia, a known safety hazard to equine health..

“Standing MRI provides the quality of diagnostic imaging we need to accurately diagnose a problem, without the recovery issues and potential problems that horses under anesthesia can have with traditional prone MRI systems,” Dr. Brock explains. “Of the 500 or so horses I’ve sent out for traditional MRI, I’ve had seven die from complications associated with recovery from anesthesia. To me, it’s not worth the risk if there’s a safer option.”

Ag Group, Animal Health, Equine, Veterinary

NCBA Comments on Proposed Organic Marketing Rule

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ncba-200 The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) recently submitted comments on the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program; Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices proposed rule, with NCBA President Tracy Brunner stating that voluntary agency marketing programs are not the place to codify animal production practices.

“Organic programs are marketing programs and therefore not the place to prescribe animal welfare practices,” said Brunner. “America’s cattle producers are the best stewards of their herds and they take pride in the welfare of their animals. That is why, over the past thirty years, cattlemen and women have worked to develop and improve animal care and handling standards through the Beef Quality Assurance Program. Rather than set rigid political standards in statute, the Beef Quality Assurance program is driven by experts in animal care, using industry-accepted and peer reviewed science to set the program guidelines. Instead of attempting to address continuously changing animal care and handling practices in this rule, we recommend the USDA suggest that organic producers become BQA certified.”

The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program is currently recognized as the gold standard in cattle care and handling, but there is concern that setting welfare standards through the National Organic Program proposed rule will mislead consumers and support standards that do not have a basis in science.

“We know the Beef Quality Assurance Program sets the highest standard for animal welfare, and that standard is continuously reviewed and updated as new science becomes available,” said Brunner. “Efforts by the USDA to set a secondary animal welfare standard for organic will inevitably mislead consumers into thinking that such arbitrary standards are handled in a manner different than conventionally produced beef. The cattle industry supports voluntary marketing programs like the organic program and we have producers who participate in these programs, but consumers need to clearly understand regardless of what product they choose to buy the commitment to safety, quality and animal welfare remains the same.”

NCBA has encouraged the USDA AMS to withdraw the current proposed rule and work with producers to draft a rule that gives consumers choice, and gives producers marketing opportunities that do not disparage conventional products.

Ag Group, Animal Welfare, Beef, Cattle, Organic, Policy, usda

NMPF Endorses Legislation Exempting Farms from RCRA

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NMPF The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has expressed support for new bipartisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives that clarifies the exemption of dairy farms and other livestock producers from being subject to the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA was enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1976 to set forth a framework for the management, generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste, and is specifically focused on solid waste held in landfills and other underground storage locations.

The Farm Regulatory Certainty Act (H.R. 5685), sponsored by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), emphasizes that the RCRA statute is not intended to regulate agricultural operations like dairy farms, that that it has been used to inappropriately target agriculture, specifically dairy and livestock producers, even if they have demonstrated that they have been following approved plans for using manure as a fertilizer. H.R. 5685 will also protect farmers from citizen suits while they undergo efforts to comply with federal orders.

The legislation comes in response to a federal court ruling last year in lawsuits brought against several dairies in Washington state. The litigation claimed that farms had inappropriately handled and stored animal manure under the RCRA law, regardless of the fact that RCRA was not intended to focus on farming practices, or the management of livestock manure.

“This legislation would help end the confusion among farmers about environmental regulations, especially those who practice responsible waste management,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The RCRA law was not intended to govern farms, and Congress needs to enact this bipartisan legislation to reinforce that point.”

NMPF has been vocal in their support for the use of safe and efficient environmental practices, such as anaerobic digesters and nutrient recovery, to help dairy operations remain stewards of a healthy ecosystem.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, Aquaculture, Dairy, dairy farming, environment, EPA, Government, legislation, National Milk, Policy