Pre-range symposium offers insight for producers | TheFencePost.com

Pre-range symposium offers insight for producers

Robyn Scherer, M.Agr.
Staff Reporter

In today’s market, knowledge is incredibly valuable. Hundreds of producers traveled to Mitchell, Neb., this year for the biennial Range Beef Cow Symposium. However, those that arrived early were treated to extra sessions and a great meal.

The pre-event, titled Managing for Success, featured speakers from Certified Angus Beef (CAB) and the University of Nebraska. The speakers talked about new genetic tools for producers, the importance of health, and crossbreeding. The event was held on Nov. 28, at the Gering Civic Center in Gering, Neb., with 120 attendees.

“Our goal in any event that we do is to keep cattleman and the producer audience current on what is going on. We want to share what we are doing, and share what information we find pertinent to their operation. We want to help them with profitability, and producing high quality beef,” said Laura Nelson, industry information specialist for CAB.

The first speaker of the evening, Mark McCully from CAB, talked about new genetic tools to meet today’s beef demand. He told producers that right now, consumers are demanding a higher quality product, and they are paying more for better cuts of meat.

“The good news is that marbling is highly heritable, so we can make genetic decisions for marbling and improve that. Also, we can make a selection for marbling and not have a negative effect on the cowherd. Small changes in marbling can have a huge effect on carcass traits,” said McCully.

He then moved into a discussion on expected progeny differences (EPDs), and how now, in addition to individual performance, pedigree and progeny data, genomics can now be added.

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McCully said, “Genomics increase the accuracy of EPDs. We are getting a better, more precise understanding of the EPD for an animal.”

He then unveiled a new program for the Angus industry, called GeneMax. It is a DNA test that tests for marbling and growth, and is geared toward use with the cow/calf producer. The program is currently in beta testing, but should be available next spring. The average cost of a test will be less than $20 per sample.

“One application of this test will be in replacement heifer candidates for in-herd selection. This could be used as a value added feature in selling both replacement heifers and feeder cattle. It could also be used as a management tool at the feedlot,” McCully said.

The next speaker was Dr. Dee Griffin, Feedlot Production Management Veterinarian and Professor from the University of Nebraska. Griffin’s program was titled “Health or Health Mistakes, impacting performance and profitability.” He spoke to the producers about disease costs.

The first problem he discussed was pneumonia, and the other respiratory diseases that can have a negative impact on cattle. Many feeders have problems with cattle when they come into the feedyard getting sick, and Dr. Griffin has researched this issue extensively.

“The most important thing I have learned in the last 20 years at the meat animal research center is there is one thing that is critical to calves that go to the feedyard, and that is that the calf is born to a healthy mother,” he said.

Dr. Griffin then talked about vaccines, and the best time to give them. He said, “Firstly, don’t shake a killed virus vaccine. It breaks the cell walls and releases endotoxins, which make the animal sick. Give vaccines to calves at branding, and a booster six weeks before weaning. Also make sure your cows get all their vaccines.”

The next part of his presentation focused on the cost of a respiratory disease. “When there is a BRD (bovine respiratory disease) event, it decreases marbling score by half a grade. The choice/select spread is astronomical right now, around $19 per hundredweight. That results in a reduction of $90 for the average respiratory problem,” he said.

Griffin then moved into a discussion about finding sick cattle. “Finding sick calves early is a hard job. Cattle are prey animals, and it’s in their genetic heritage not to look sick,” he said.

He told producers to look at cattle before they get to a pen, and to check cattle everyday for sick ones. He said to check cattle early, before 10 a.m., so that temperatures are not high, or there is not a large swing in temperature. He also told producers to ride in pairs, so that someone is close for help if it is needed.

He reminded producers of the four signs of disease, with those being depression, decreased appetite, respiration problems and temperature. He stressed to producers to have plenty of time to check cattle, so that nothing is missed.

Griffin finished his presentation talking about how to treat cattle. “Have a good treatment plan, and follow the treatment book. Understand how antibiotics work, and make sure they meet beef quality assurance standards. With antibiotics, the biggest factor is timing, and the earlier you can start it the better it works,” he said.

The last speaker of the evening was Larry Coran, from CAB, who presented information researched by Dr. Nevil Speers from Western Kentucky University. His presentation was titled “Crossbreeding: A free lunch, but at what cost?”

Coran told producers that currently, 50 percent of the country’s cowherd is black, and 75 percent carry black in their herd. He told producers that crossbreeding is a proven system that works, but people are moving away from it.

He then gave five reasons why this is happening. The first was that cattle genetics today are dramatically different than they were 10 years ago. The second was that predictable genetics are important.

He said, “Genetic databases differ by breed. Today, the cast majority of first calf heifers bred to Angus bulls is high.”

The third reason he discussed was that not all heterosis is positive. He gave the example of birth weight, and how people use birth weight as their number one bull selection criteria.

The fourth reason he gave for moving away from crossbreeding was convenience. “In many cases things need to be simple, because of time and labor management. Only one in four operations identify cowherds as the primary source of income,” Coran said.

The last reason he talked about was the market signals, and how those have changed. “People want a positive eating experience,” he said.

The pre-event offered valuable insight to producers, as does the entire symposium. “It really it is a great opportunity to reach people. There is a great audience in one place, that are in the educational mindset. They are already a captive audience, and the pre-event is a great tack-on to a great program. The range beef cow symposium brings in a great group of people,” said Nelson.

In today’s market, knowledge is incredibly valuable. Hundreds of producers traveled to Mitchell, Neb., this year for the biennial Range Beef Cow Symposium. However, those that arrived early were treated to extra sessions and a great meal.

The pre-event, titled Managing for Success, featured speakers from Certified Angus Beef (CAB) and the University of Nebraska. The speakers talked about new genetic tools for producers, the importance of health, and crossbreeding. The event was held on Nov. 28, at the Gering Civic Center in Gering, Neb., with 120 attendees.

“Our goal in any event that we do is to keep cattleman and the producer audience current on what is going on. We want to share what we are doing, and share what information we find pertinent to their operation. We want to help them with profitability, and producing high quality beef,” said Laura Nelson, industry information specialist for CAB.

The first speaker of the evening, Mark McCully from CAB, talked about new genetic tools to meet today’s beef demand. He told producers that right now, consumers are demanding a higher quality product, and they are paying more for better cuts of meat.

“The good news is that marbling is highly heritable, so we can make genetic decisions for marbling and improve that. Also, we can make a selection for marbling and not have a negative effect on the cowherd. Small changes in marbling can have a huge effect on carcass traits,” said McCully.

He then moved into a discussion on expected progeny differences (EPDs), and how now, in addition to individual performance, pedigree and progeny data, genomics can now be added.

McCully said, “Genomics increase the accuracy of EPDs. We are getting a better, more precise understanding of the EPD for an animal.”

He then unveiled a new program for the Angus industry, called GeneMax. It is a DNA test that tests for marbling and growth, and is geared toward use with the cow/calf producer. The program is currently in beta testing, but should be available next spring. The average cost of a test will be less than $20 per sample.

“One application of this test will be in replacement heifer candidates for in-herd selection. This could be used as a value added feature in selling both replacement heifers and feeder cattle. It could also be used as a management tool at the feedlot,” McCully said.

The next speaker was Dr. Dee Griffin, Feedlot Production Management Veterinarian and Professor from the University of Nebraska. Griffin’s program was titled “Health or Health Mistakes, impacting performance and profitability.” He spoke to the producers about disease costs.

The first problem he discussed was pneumonia, and the other respiratory diseases that can have a negative impact on cattle. Many feeders have problems with cattle when they come into the feedyard getting sick, and Dr. Griffin has researched this issue extensively.

“The most important thing I have learned in the last 20 years at the meat animal research center is there is one thing that is critical to calves that go to the feedyard, and that is that the calf is born to a healthy mother,” he said.

Dr. Griffin then talked about vaccines, and the best time to give them. He said, “Firstly, don’t shake a killed virus vaccine. It breaks the cell walls and releases endotoxins, which make the animal sick. Give vaccines to calves at branding, and a booster six weeks before weaning. Also make sure your cows get all their vaccines.”

The next part of his presentation focused on the cost of a respiratory disease. “When there is a BRD (bovine respiratory disease) event, it decreases marbling score by half a grade. The choice/select spread is astronomical right now, around $19 per hundredweight. That results in a reduction of $90 for the average respiratory problem,” he said.

Griffin then moved into a discussion about finding sick cattle. “Finding sick calves early is a hard job. Cattle are prey animals, and it’s in their genetic heritage not to look sick,” he said.

He told producers to look at cattle before they get to a pen, and to check cattle everyday for sick ones. He said to check cattle early, before 10 a.m., so that temperatures are not high, or there is not a large swing in temperature. He also told producers to ride in pairs, so that someone is close for help if it is needed.

He reminded producers of the four signs of disease, with those being depression, decreased appetite, respiration problems and temperature. He stressed to producers to have plenty of time to check cattle, so that nothing is missed.

Griffin finished his presentation talking about how to treat cattle. “Have a good treatment plan, and follow the treatment book. Understand how antibiotics work, and make sure they meet beef quality assurance standards. With antibiotics, the biggest factor is timing, and the earlier you can start it the better it works,” he said.

The last speaker of the evening was Larry Coran, from CAB, who presented information researched by Dr. Nevil Speers from Western Kentucky University. His presentation was titled “Crossbreeding: A free lunch, but at what cost?”

Coran told producers that currently, 50 percent of the country’s cowherd is black, and 75 percent carry black in their herd. He told producers that crossbreeding is a proven system that works, but people are moving away from it.

He then gave five reasons why this is happening. The first was that cattle genetics today are dramatically different than they were 10 years ago. The second was that predictable genetics are important.

He said, “Genetic databases differ by breed. Today, the cast majority of first calf heifers bred to Angus bulls is high.”

The third reason he discussed was that not all heterosis is positive. He gave the example of birth weight, and how people use birth weight as their number one bull selection criteria.

The fourth reason he gave for moving away from crossbreeding was convenience. “In many cases things need to be simple, because of time and labor management. Only one in four operations identify cowherds as the primary source of income,” Coran said.

The last reason he talked about was the market signals, and how those have changed. “People want a positive eating experience,” he said.

The pre-event offered valuable insight to producers, as does the entire symposium. “It really it is a great opportunity to reach people. There is a great audience in one place, that are in the educational mindset. They are already a captive audience, and the pre-event is a great tack-on to a great program. The range beef cow symposium brings in a great group of people,” said Nelson.