Dr. Tom Troxel Dr. Michael L. Looper
Busy Spring for the UA, Department of Animal Science
The UA, Department of Animal Science has had a busy semester for students, staff, and faculty. Between events, competitions, conferences, and awarding over $42,000 in scholarships to current students, the Department has been a constant hub of activity.
The outstanding students who helped to make those activities possible were honored at the Department’s annual Awards Banquet in April. It was at this banquet that 48 scholarships totaling over $42,000 were presented to our students. Funds to support these scholarships are generated from you, our alumni, supporters, and stakeholders. We extend a huge thank you from the entire Department for your generous support of the scholarship program. Also at the banquet, Graduate of Distinction awards were presented to alumni William H. (Billy) Caldwell, II (B.S. ’89) and William R. (Bill) Shaddox, Sr. (B.S. ’56). Advanced Graduate of Distinction awards were presented to alumni Dr. Curtis C. Melton (M.S. ’65) and Dr. Ernest Keith (M.S. ’75). The faculty and staff of the UA, Department of Animal Science would also like to congratulate all students from the Department that graduated either last Fall or this Spring with B.S. degrees in Animal Science. Eight of these students were accepted to veterinary medicine schools.
The Livestock Judging Team has been busy earning awards at the five competitions they competed in this semester. The 2013 Arizona National Livestock Show was the highlight, where the UA team scored top in all group sections. The team also placed well in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Southwestern Expo and Livestock Show, the Dixie National Intercollegiate, and the National Western Stock Show. They plan to continue their success in the upcoming school year.
The Department also established their very first Horse Judging Team. Members were selected from the Equine Evaluation course offered this Spring. In April, the team traveled to Whitesboro, TX, to compete in its first competition. Members are currently preparing for five competitions scheduled for the Fall semester.
The Departmental faculty had numerous research abstracts, and several students in both the undergraduate and graduate student competitions at the Southern and Midwest sections of the American Society of Animal Science meetings. Faculty will hit the road again this summer, attending various scientific conferences to present their recent research findings. If you would like to know more about specific research projects, please visit our website at http://animalscience.uark.edu.
The Department recently teamed up with law enforcement to educate and promote safe large animal handling and wellbeing. Faculty met with the Arkansas State Animal Control Association to provide an educational session on the topic. Randy Forst, Extension Agent and Staff Chair in Carroll County, coordinated the day’s activities and attained the live dairy and beef cattle, horses, and small ruminants utilized in this hands-on demonstration. Faculty members Dr. Michael Looper, Dr. Andrew Fidler, Steve Jones, Dr. Mark Russell, and Dr. Tom Troxel presented on various topics and assembled a book of guidelines providing recommended minimum standards of care. The guidelines will serve the animal control officers and law enforcement officials when addressing neglect and cruelty to livestock. The book and program was sponsored by the Animal Care Committee of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation. Dr. Yvonne Thaxton, director of the Center for Food Animal Wellbeing, and Beth Rumley, attorney with the National Agricultural Law Center, both of the Division of Agriculture, informed the group of available resources.
Want to keep up with all these stories and more? Check out the Department’s Facebook and Twitter pages to get instant updates of our activities. Just search for AnimalScience – UA.
Livestock Judging Team
Coach Bryan Kutz, Jimmie Hollenback, Colten Booth, Caleb Russell, Lindsay Bowman, Matt Merideth, Olivia Foster, Brittany Smith, Morgan Watts, Bryce Brummet, Assistant Coach Tom Devine
Horse Judging Team
Brittany Rodgers, Whitt Bell, Becca Schlote, Sean Hill, Shelby Wood, and Chynell Fitzgerald
By Dr. Dirk Philipp, Department of Animal Science, University of Arkansas—Fayetteville
Phosphorus best management practices help protect water quality
With the storm season in full swing, intensive rainfall events increase the likelihood of water quality impairments through sediment transport and P intake into surface waters. Several BMPs for phosphorus management are available and can be implemented relatively easily by landowners. While it is difficult to measure the effect of a single BMP, it has been shown that the combination of several BMPs together will have an overall positive effect on water quality.
BMPs addressing P mitigation are essentially split into source and transport BMPs, or a combination of both. In general, P input and outputs should ideally be balanced at the farm or watershed scale. While a precise balance may be difficult to calculate, measures can be taken to reduce the risk of excessive P loss. First, testing pasture soils for fertility levels goes a long way of keeping P in- and output in check. Over-application of P is avoided by applying recommended fertilizer amounts. This also means that fertilizer and manure spreaders should be calibrated and in good working order to ensure even distribution of the applied material. For some farmers the application of poultry litter is an option and a good opportunity to increase soil organic matter besides providing plant nutrients. The application of litter should be timed carefully however, as heavy rainfall can lead to runoff and transport of P away from pastures.
Because P is attached to soil particles that can be transported away, so-called transport BMPs are aimed at retaining P on site before it enters water ways. One of the first things to consider is, therefore, minimizing soil erosion. Proper grazing management is a very effective way of avoiding excessive erosion as rainfall can infiltrate on pastures with sufficient grass cover where runoff is usually filtered before it reaches streams or creeks.
Cover crops can be used on bottom land with the purpose of reducing erosive potential and filtering runoff. Filter strips are another option for retaining excess nutrients. These strips can be situated alongside riparian zones and infrequently grazed when conditions permit. Grassed waterways, also called vegetated swales, are very common in the Midwest where they help reduce runoff and filter nutrients in crop fields such as corn or soybean. In a pasture situation, these swales can easily be established alongside intermittent streams. There appears to be interest among landowners to work with native plant species such as switchgrass, big bluestem, indiangrass, or gamagrass that are adapted to a variety of conditions and are well suited for establishment in grassed waterways. In pasture situations, vegetated swales need to be strategically placed to avoid a large reducation of grazable land, although these areas can be grazed infrequently. Such waterways need to be fenced off, but this is easily accomplished with polywire. Grassed waterways can also be linked to riparian zones to increase their efficacy.
It should be kept in mind that a combination of several well-executed BMPs is the most efficient way of maintaining or improving water quality. BMPs do not have to be implemented at once, but a long-term plan is useful for establishing several over time. As it has been mentioned before, good grazing and animal management help protect water quality. A more intensive management approach will require planning on how to section pastures, where to locate watering sources, which forages may need to be established, and what grazing method will maximize forage utilization, all of which improve pasture management.
There is a lot of good material available from the UA Division of Agriculture, NRCS, and USDA on grazing management and BMPs for the livestock industry including cost share options. Contact your local county extension office for advice and help in implementing P mitigation measures that suit your situation.
Dr. Tom Troxel
Dr. Michael L. Looper
Cow Slaughter UP?
Coming into this year, the expectation was for US cow slaughter to trend lower, with some forecasts calling for a double digit decline in US cow slaughter rates. After all, record high cattle prices, a shrinking cow herd and lower calf numbers and improving cow-calf profitability were expected to provide an incentive to limit the number of female bovines coming to market and possibly encourage some heifer retention. With the first four months almost behind us, things have not shaped up exactly as expected. US cow slaughter actually declined sharply from the seasonal high in early January. March and April cow and bull slaughter, however, has been notably higher than a year ago. USDA reports the weekly official cow and bull slaughter with a two week lag so the latest available data is for the week ending April 6. However, we can get an estimate of the more recent trend in slaughter from the daily USDA slaughter estimates. For the seven days ending April 24, US cow and bull slaughter was estimated at 140,000 head, 13.8% higher than the previous year and also above 2011 levels. Bull and cow slaughter has been above year ago levels since at least mid March, resulting in a notable increase in the supply of nonfed beef in the marketplace.
Looking at the regional breakdown in weekly cow slaughter, we can see a notable increase in slaughter in some regions although the regional slaughter data has become increasingly difficult to work with. Because of confidentiality constrains, USDA has discontinued reporting in a number of regions. Beginning in January 2013, USDA no longer provides weekly slaughter data for region 5, which includes IL, IN, MI, MN, OH and WI. This was an important region as it accounted for about a quarter of all US beef and cow slaughter in 2012. USDA also does not provide any information from region 7 and region 8. At this point, the regional cow slaughter data only covers about 59% of the US cow slaughter. Dairy cow slaughter was one of the drivers for the increase in cow slaughter numbers in late 2012 and in 2013, as high feed costs and negative margins forced dairy producers to liquidate their herds. More recently, however, it appears that the increase in cow slaughter rates has been driven by more beef cows coming to market. Cold and wet weather in a number of key production areas certainly have negatively impacted cow-calf producers. Also, the sharp decline in forward feeder prices has changed the profitability estimates on future calf production. Beef cow slaughter in region 6 (TX, OK, NM, LA, AR) averaged 20% below year ago levels through early March but in the last three reported weeks it has jumped some 20% over 2012 levels.
The pace of slaughter cow imports from Canada is another important factor to consider when looking at US weekly cow slaughter rates. As a special report by the Livestock Marketing
Information Center points out, the closing of the Levinoff-Colbex cull cow packing plant in Canada, which processed some 2000 – 2500 culls cows a week, has meant that more of those cows are now coming to the US. Year to date, imports of Canadian cull cows are up 114% or 44,397 head compared to the previous year. Since the beginning of the year, US cow slaughter is up 0.2% from a year ago but when adjusting for the imports of Canadian cows, US cow slaughter is down 2.4% (Source CME Group).
USDA the National Agricultural Statistics Service released estimates of US beef production for March. The data showed notable reductions in output but it is important to note that there was 1 less marketing day in March 2013 compared to March 2012. When adjusting for the calendar mismatch, the supply picture appears less bullish. Total cattle slaughter was 2.585 million head, 6.1% lower than the previous year. However, the average weekday slaughter in March was 123,114 head, 1.6% lower than a year ago. Cattle carcass weight increases appear to be leveling off, with the average cattle carcass weight in March pegged at 792 pounds, 0.5% over a year ago. Cattle carcass weights rose by 2.3% in 2012. Total commercial beef production in March was 2.038 billion pounds, 5.6% lower than a year ago. Average daily beef supplies in March were about 97.1 million lb/day, 1.1% lower than the previous year. Beef production is slowly declining but the cutbacks are not significant enough yet to propel beef prices to new record highs, especially given significant demand headwinds so far this year.
The follow two charts illustrate how food costs have risen over the past two years and how they are expected to increase in 2013 (Source: USDA).
Presentation recordings of the 2013 Little Red River Beef Cattle Conference have been posted. To access the videos, go to https://vimeo.com/channels/504987.
Breeding and Calving Season Management
Dr. Tom Troxel, University of Arkansas
23 minutes and 40 MB file size for download
Dr. Bob Kropp, Oklahoma State University
54 minutes and 304 to 740 MB file size for download
This program was funded, in part, through the support of Farm Credit Ag Heritage and Farm Credit of Western Arkansas.
Dr. Tom Troxel
Dr. Michael L. Looper
The beef industry has undergone significant change in the past few years. On the production side, severe drought has caused structural changes in the industry. Herd size has dramatically diminished, input costs are high and some cattlemen are exiting the business instead of taking on herd rebuilding. Looking ahead, there are further significant changes in the marketing landscape that the industry must successfully adapt to in order to keep beef as the premier center of the plate protein.
Households composed of one or two persons now represent 62% of total households. In addition, some families are now eating more a la carte meals, where individual entrees are needed to meet each person’s desire. Retailers are going to need several merchandising options as they reach out to these consumers. A recent beef checkoff study found strong consumer interest in packages of small, 4-5 ounce expertly trimmed steaks in the meat case… as well as on the restaurant menu. Market research also has found that a limiter for beef consumption is that beef does not perform well in the microwave. This has led to testing of new packaging such as a microwaveable ground beef option with a pouch to collect grease as the beef is cooked.
Hispanics are anticipated to grow from 16 percent to 30 percent of U.S. households from 2010 to 2050. The percentage of Asian consumers in this country is expected to nearly double, from 5 percent to 9 percent. Not only will tastes shift, but the beef industry must be able to satisfy increasingly diverse consumer palates. This will create an explosion of taste options to enjoy, particularly for millennials who embrace ethnic flavors to a much greater degree than older segments of the population.
The marketplace is fractured into three major generational cohorts. The baby boomers remain the most economically powerful generation and, at its peak, was 76 million strong. Boomers want to stay vital and productive as they age and, as more become empty nesters, their discretionary income increases. Generation X is the smaller (49 million) that followed the boomers. They are the in-between cohort whose influence is increasing as the boomers retire. Third is the millennial generation which, at 80 million strong, is bigger than the boomers. Millennials are the market of the future and as this cohort moves through society it is changing everything. Also, it is important to note that many of us refine our taste buds when coming of age in our 20’s. Historically that has been the time frame when steak consumption climbs. We must stand ready to educate millennials as they go through this important gastronomical coming of age.
Millennials – consumers born between about 1980 and 2000 – use social media to make many of their decisions, as well as increase their knowledge base. Technology in communications is advancing faster than most consumers can keep up with it. Research has found that millennials are much more likely than other consumers to use a ‘shopping app’ at the supermarket – an app that tells them, for example, what’s on sale, where to find certain foods in the store and can provide recipes and suggest ingredients. What kind of electronic communication will drive millennial decisions and knowledge-building tomorrow?
The beef industry has come up with several new beef cuts (Denver Cut, Flatiron Steak, etc.) that have helped make steak-eating more affordable, and increased the value of the carcass to the beef industry. Today about half of U.S. households are low to moderate income households, and these consumers are typically higher frequency beef eaters. Innovation is needed to find affordable beef options for all income levels. As the industry moves toward a more comprehensive selection of great beef solutions, we must also remember many consumers today never talk to a butcher, and thus have a declining level of understanding of beef selection and cookery. Matching beef options up with the distribution channel that appreciates the unique strengths of each cut will require more precise distribution models in the future.
Nearly one-third of consumers believe that 40 minutes is too long to wait for their meals, from start to table, and 70% say an hour is too long. Add to that the fact that 70% of women now are working and it is easy to see that convenience is critical. While ground beef has been the “fall-back” product for the time-conscious, more convenient whole muscle cuts, including microwaveable roasts, could boost demand. So, too, could easy beef options which quickly assemble into one-pot meals, an increasingly popular choice for the home cook.
Pick up a steak at Walgreen’s on the way home from work? Grab lunch from a food truck outside your office? Have dinner at the nice restaurant in your favorite supermarket? Order your groceries online? Online grocery shopping is finally growing at a sustained and rapid rate. Food distribution is ever changing, with specialty stores, pharmacies and others beginning to add meat products to their offerings and supermarkets providing sit-down restaurants.
The many venues offering fresh foods are a challenge for beef and, in response, the industry is creating new packaging technologies, size variety, and new preparation methods to meet food distribution needs and consumer demands.
As we look down the road, the trends we’ve identified stand out as particularly relevant to beef producers. They have important implications for how beef is marketed and communicated about. It has been said that the future is what you make it. Obviously, no one can predict the future. However, it makes sense for the beef industry to take action today to manage what we see coming down the road tomorrow (Beef Issues Quarterly; Fall 2012. Vol. 4 No. 1).
Breeding for spring calving will begin soon. Have a breeding soundness examination conducted on bulls prior to the breeding season. Twenty percent of bulls fail a breeding soundness exam. A breeding soundness exam is something cattle producers ‘cannot afford – not to do’. Calves are too valuable and cost of production is too high to assume the bull is fertile.
The following video demonstrates a breeding soundness examination.
If email settings restrict playback, click on the post title to open the blog page to watch.
The following file contains the video transcript.
Bull Breeding Soundness Examination Script
By Dr. Mark Russell Assistant Professor-Animal Science
So far this year in Arkansas (as of March 1), there have been 23 reported cases of rabies. 21 of these cases have been skunks, while 1 has been in a cow and 1 reported case in a dog. Though it is unlikely your horse will become stricken with rabies during its lifetime, as owners we should always be cognizant of the signs of not only our horses having rabies, but also other animals that could come in contact with the horses. Further, rabies is especially dangerous, given the fact that rabies can be spread to humans quite easily.
How does a horse get rabies?
• In nearly every case of rabies, it is spread from one animal to another in a bite
• Horses are curious animals and will often walk up to another animal acting bizarre and will most often get bit on the nose or somewhere on the face.
What does a horse look like with rabies?
• Surprisingly, horses that come in contact with rabies, will not show signs until 2 -6 weeks. In more rare cases, a horse may not show signs for up to one year.
• Signs include:
o Change in behavior
o Head pressing and/or circling
o Difficulty swallowing
o Muscle tremors or convulsing
• There is currently no treatment available
• Most horses die within 2-4 days after contracting rabies if not euthanized
• If horse has been exposed to an animal with rabies and vaccination is more than 30 days old, re-vaccinate and hold in quarantine for 45 days. If there was no previous vaccination, it is recommended the horse be held in quarantine for 6 months.
• Vaccination is the best prevention for your horse. It is also recommended to have dogs and any barn cats that may come in contact with your horse to be receive vaccination as well. It should also be noted that just because a horse has received a vaccination for rabies, does not guarantee the horse will not get it.
• Foals and weanlings less than 12 months of age are administered an initial series of three vaccines (the timing is dependent on the vaccination status of the mare). Thereafter, horses are vaccinated annually (even if the vaccine is labeled as a three-year product)
Sources: AAEP, Dr. Stacey Oke, TheHorse.com, Colorado State University Extension, and University of Kentucky Animal Science Department.