Saturday, February 24, 2007

You May Be a Farmer If?

You May Be a Farmer If ?
  • Your dog rides in the truck more than your wife
  • You wear specific hats to farm sales, livestock auctions, customer appreciation suppers, and vacations
  • You've used the same knife to make bull calves steers,and peel apples.
  • You wave at every vehicle whether you know them or not.
  • Your early morning prayer covers rain, cattle, and pigs.
  • You listen to "Paul Harvey" every day at noon.
  • You have enough ball caps to match every shirt you own, but you only wear one so you don't get the others dirty.

Organized Crime -

Police in Thailand have a big problem. With a long nose. A gang of elephants reportedly has been holding up and looting cargo trucks that pass through a wildlife sanctuary in the Chachoengsao province. The herd of about 20 huge mammals has tipped over trucks bearing food, making trucks with tapioca and sugarcane cargo a special target. Unable to stop the marauding elephants, local authorities say they will simply close the road to night travel.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Johne's Disease in Cattle

I had the opportunity to attend a Beef Siminar yesterday that was very informative. One of the topics that was discussed was on Johne's Disease. For some reason, I was not aware of this disease and the fact that it is very prevalent in many of today's cattle herds.


Here is an article given information on the disease.

Johne's disease (pronounced "yo-knees") is a contagious, chronic and usually fatal infection that affects primarily the small intestine of ruminants. All ruminants are susceptible to Johne's disease. Johne's disease is caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, a hardy bacteria related to the agents of leprosy and tuberculosis. The disease is worldwide in distribution.
Signs of Johne's disease include weight loss and diarrhea with a normal appetite. Several weeks after the onset of diarrhea, a soft swelling may occur under the jaw (bottle jaw). Bottle jaw or intermandibular edema is due to protein loss from the bloodstream into the digestive tract. Animals at this stage of the disease will not live very long, perhaps a few weeks at most.

Signs are rarely evident until two or more years after the initial infection, which usually occurs shortly after birth. Animals are most susceptible to the infection in the first year of life. Newborns most often become infected by swallowing small amounts of infected manure from the birthing environment or udder of the mother. In addition, newborns may become infected while in the uterus or by swallowing bacteria passed in milk and colostrum. Animals exposed at an older age, or exposed to a very small dose of bacteria at a young age, are not likely to develop clinical disease until they are much older than two years.

A national study of US dairies, Dairy NAHMS 96, found that approximately 22 percent of US dairy farms have at least 10% of the herd infected with Johne's disease. The study determined that infected herds experience an average loss of $40 per cow in herds with a low Johne’s disease clinical cull rate while herds with a high Johne’s disease clinical cull rate lost on average of $227. This loss was due to reduced milk production, early culling, and poor conditioning at culling. The cost of Johne's disease in beef herds still need to be determined.

Farm specific plans can be implemented to reduce economic losses and cleanup Johne's disease from the farm. For more information on Johne's disease, diagnosis, prevention, and control, contact your herd veterinarian or your State's extension office.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

USDA -$4.6 Million for Business Development

News UpdateFeb. 12, 2007

USDA Announces $4.6M to Promote Business Development, Job Creation

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced the award of $4.6 million in loan and grant funds to promote business development in eight states. Johanns said an estimated 627 jobs will be created or saved through the funds, being provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development’s Intermediary Relending and Rural Business Enterprise Grant programs.

Since August 2003, more than 7.2 million jobs have been created in the U.S., more jobs than the European Union (EU) and Japan combined. The economy has now added jobs for 40 straight months, according to the Department of Labor.

The Intermediary Relending program provides 1% loans to nonprofit development organizations for the establishment of revolving loan programs for loans to small businesses. Applications are selected for funding through a nationwide competition. Rural Business Enterprise grants facilitate the development of small and emerging private businesses. Public bodies, private nonprofit corporations and federally recognized Indian tribal groups in rural areas are eligible to apply.

States receiving funding include California, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin. A complete listing of the organizations receiving loan and grant funds is available at

Saturday, February 10, 2007

2007 Cattle Industry Predictions

Taken from Calf News - March 2007 -
The Website for Cattle Feeders
Betty Jo Gigot, Editor and Publisher

A Tremendously Exciting Time in Agriculture Print Story

Bill Rhea -Rhea Cattle Company, Arlington, Nebraska

Correctly anticipating what 2007 will bring is about as easy as anticipating Nebraska weather. However, the stage has been set by our previous year. We are facing a tremendously exciting time in agriculture. Ethanol plants have the potential to change cattle feeding at its core; in Nebraska, Initiative 300 may open doors to new methods of farm ownership (pending Supreme Court ruling); branded meats are flooding consumer shelves; political positioning in our global market directly involves the export of our beef; and at home, immigration issues impact our workforces.

Ethanol’s influence
The emergence of the ethanol plant boom will likely spur the biggest change we’ll see in our lifetime in rural America. In Nebraska alone 11 plants are currently operating; that number is set to grow quickly to 34. The placement of these plants will likely initiate a tremendous economic revival as those communities increase housing, city services and infrastructure.

The complexities of ethanol’s impact on cattle feeding will likely change the way we go about our business, from cow-calf to finishing. Ethanol’s byproducts could become the primary feed ingredient because corn will be too valuable to feed. Wet distiller’s grains with stalks may comprise rations in the new ethanol era of cattle feeding. We may add a level of complexity as we move from freely available and easily storable corn to a more sensitive ingredient. Corn storage is easy, on site, and offers consistency of supply. Cattle feeders could be at the mercy of the highs and lows of ethanol plant’s production, which is affected by holidays, breaks in production and the like. In addition, ethanol byproducts are more tenuous, with a limited shelf life.

How do we anticipate and provide for these events? Contracts for ethanol byproducts will most likely dictate a consistent amount over the course of time. This will mean that feedlot numbers will need to be more stable throughout the year, thus impacting cow-calf cycles. The use of “hoop” buildings and roughage bedding could assist northern operations to accommodate year-round feeding, while diminishing the environmental and weather impact.

Branded beef
Name branding has become vogue in our industry and perhaps is a necessity to maximize the significance of a superior product. It still has to mean something. The poultry industry has been branded for some time but often consumers feel that there is no defining difference among those brands. When not supplied with information about what the brand guarantees and implies, consumers choose based on price. In a high priced beef market, it is unclear if people will pay for higher prices of branded beef.

If we produce high quality meat, we need to cultivate a consumer culture to pay for it. Consumers want to embrace something of value, something with an identity. Having a brand name may be required to play ball in the market, but a brand itself is not enough anymore.

Political positioning
Corporate farming laws in Nebraska could have an effect on Iowa and South Dakota. Pending ruling, Nebraska’s law may open the doors for out-of-state investors in the cattle industry, thus changing the face of ownership. We will know if it will be heard by the Supreme Court by this spring. Alternatively, it may go in front of a full panel of the 8 th Circuit Court instead of a three-judge panel.

In the world market today, agriculture is a political toy rather than a means of feeding people. South Korea and Japan have agreed to our beef exports, stipulating a zero-tolerance policy on bone fragments. This may prove impossible but these are the hoops we will have to jump through. With South Korea, beef exports could become a bargaining chip while our peace keepers continue to serve there. Russian trade was not as much about BSE as it was a political and governmental issue, but issues like this affect us at the feedlot as producers.

Politically, we had better get our act together because we’ve got competition, especially from the Brazilians once they resolve their infrastructure issues. They’ve got the climate, the land and the grain production to create a value-added product. European demand is on the rise but it is doubtful the EU will tolerate hormone-treated beef. We need to press our case forward, but eventually may need to produce a product they want. Ultimately we need the 10-percent market share that our exports provide to take the pressure off our own market. Mexico is back on board; now hopefully we’ll get the others.

Our national policy on immigration is backwards. We have defined programs to provide uncomplicated immigration for highly skilled jobs while there is no program for unskilled workers. As a nation, we cannot provide our own unskilled workers to drive our economy. Legislation could be implemented that could consider timely accessibility to an adequate labor force while keeping in mind the safety of America. What we need is unskilled workers we can assimilate into our society and teach agriculture skills. We need to figure out how we can make this happen.
Attracting a new generationThe biggest problem that lies in front of us is attracting a new generation to agriculture. While the aforementioned economic revival could have an impact on agriculture, it may entice young people to remain and return to agriculture

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Why Test for BVD - Bovine Viral Diarrhea

Three years ago, the very well managed University commercial cow herd at Cal-State, Fresno started to have a high mortality rate (over 10%) of pre-weaned calves. Cattle raised in the herd had been vaccinated twice at weaning time and given an annual booster for the respiratory diseases such as BVD and IBR. Upon diagnostic testing, a high incidence of “persistently infected” (PI) BVD cattle were found.

Persistently Infected calves can develop in the uterus of their mother, if the cow is exposed to the virus during the first part of gestation, about 40 to 125
days pregnant. Persistently Infected (PI) cattle are often healthy-appearing carriers for BVD virus and are shedding the virus to young, unprotected calves. To get BVD out of the Fresno herds, all animals in both the commercial and purebred herds had a skin notch tested for the virus. The PI carriers were identified and culled from the commercial herd. The purebred herd had no PI carriers. They found that “keeping any PI animals has the risk of re-infecting the whole herd with BVD virus on a daily basis”.

Now the Cal-State, Fresno purebred herd enjoys a marketing advantage of the seedstock cattle they offer for sale. They are one of the first herds in California to have a designation of being free of BVD persistent infection. They are now able to offer cattle that are guaranteed to be persistent infection free. Look for more herds to follow their lead. In fact, Dr. John Maas, California State Extension Veterinarian expects that within a year, many California purebred herds will be tested and offering “PI-BVD-free” bulls and females.

Source: Dr. Randy Perry, Professor Cal-State, Fresno Animal Science Department and Dr. John Maas, State Extension Veterinarian, Univ. Californina-Davis; personal communication.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) review

BVD may infect cattle of any age.

BVD is a disease that diminishes production and in the individual impacts multiple body systems including the reproductive, respiratory, digestive and immune systems.

BVD can cause a variety of clinical and subclinical reproductive, enteric, and respiratory syndromes and immune suppression.

BVD is unique in that a fetus that is infected from its transiently or persistently viremic dam prior to formation of a competent immune system can become persistently infected (PI) with the virus.

PI animals will shed BVD from body secretions throughout their life.

PI animals are considered the primary reservoir for BVD in both cow herd and feedlot situations.

Clinical signs can vary from pneumonia, abortions, stunted calves, stillbirths, PI calves, weak calves, unthriftiness, increase disease susceptibility and full blown disease characterized by a watery diarrhea that frequently leads to death.

The virus presents in different forms, cytopathic, noncytopathic, type 1, type 2, type 1a, 1b,…………… 2a, 2b……………..etc., etc., etc.

All of this makes for confusion when selecting vaccines and testing for the disease.

The virus may exist in multiple species and transmission from one to the other may occur

Transmission and Sources of BVD

  • Transmitted by, ingestion, inhalation, insects, carried on boots and vehicles

  • Sources
    -transient infected animals including wildlife
    -Persistently infected animals are the main source of infection. PI’s shed viruses in high numbers and infect others, even if they are vaccinated.
    -PI calves result from the dam being exposed during the first third of pregnancy

  • Keys to controlling BVD

    -Understand “persistently infected” (PI) animals as they relate to BVD.
    -Not be willing to live with one or more PI calves in a herd.
    -Not be willing to keep a PI calf as a replacement heifer or breeding bull. (don’t sell them either)
    -Commit to finding BVD PI cattle in the herd

Economic Impact of BVD

  • Current estimate is that about 10% of beef cow herds have at least 1 PI animal, and about 0.25 to 1% of calves born are PI.

  • Veterinarians/Producers should have a surveillance strategy to determine level of herd risk for the presence of PI animals (High vs. Low Risk).

  • Herds that are considered high risk for containing PI animals should utilize laboratory tests to do whole-herd screening to find all PI animals and then remove them.

  • $10.00 to $24.00 per breeding animal (conservative estimate based on value of the cow and the lowered calf crop) a 200 head cow herd would lose $2000 to $4800 per year.

  • In the feedlot economic impact can be tremendous.$21,000 to $100,000 have been lost in a few weeks by local feedlots.

    That’s all I’ve got to say for now!!!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Mahindra Tractors

From army vehicles to farm tractors to major automobile manufacturing, Mahindra’s relationship with American industry goes back quite a few years. American GIs who served in India during World War II recognize our parent company, Mahindra & Mahindra, which in 1945 was selected to assemble the famous Willys Jeep.

Following Indian independence in 1947, the founders of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) were determined to chart a course of product expansion and globalization. The philosophy led to the company’s eventual entrance into the worldwide tractor market.

In 1963, M&M formed a joint venture with International Harvester to manufacture tractors carrying the Mahindra nameplate for the Indian market. Armed with engineering, tooling and manufacturing know-how gained from this relationship, M&M developed its first tractor, the B-275. This successor to International Harvester’s incredibly popular IH B-414 is still the basis for some current Mahindra models.

More recently, a joint venture between M&M and Ford Motor Company in 1995 created new opportunities for growth in the world vehicle market. A short time later, the European model of the Ford Escort began rolling off the Mahindra assembly lines. M&M's newest product, one that has burst onto the Indian market, is the Scorpio, a rugged, yet stylish new SUV that received numerous awards as the best new vehicle in India in 2002.

Today M&M ranks among the largest tractor companies in the world with sales of nearly 85,000 units annually in 10 countries. In India, the largest tractor market in the world, Mahindra has been the number one selling brand since 1983.

In 1994, the company entered the American market as Mahindra USA, and in the few years since, its tough, dependable tractors are being sold and serviced by hundreds of leading tractor dealers throughout the country. Here in the United States, we perform final assembly and conduct a 51 point pre-delivery inspection, including dynamometer and road testing to ensure high standards of quality. Our focus is to deliver high levels of customer satisfaction and dealer support.
In 2002, Mahindra USA opened a second assembly and distribution center in Calhoun, GA, 68 miles north of Atlanta. This will more than double production capacity to meet growing demands for our tractors.