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Animal Science: Today and Tomorrow

August 29, 2013

Dr. Tom Troxel                                                                    Dr. Michael L. Looper


Improved pasture conditions may slow down cows going to slaughter

Improving pasture conditions and prospects for lower feed costs and better producer margins are expected to slow down the flow of beef cows to slaughter in the second half of the year.

It remains to be seen, however, if 2013 will be another liquidation year for the US beef cow herd. According to USDA, beef cow slaughter in the first half of the year was 1.597 million head, 33,500 head or 2.1% larger than a year ago. Since then, weekly beef cow slaughter has started to drift below year ago levels and, by some estimates, beef cow numbers will remain limited in September and October. For the period June 30 – August 3, beef cow slaughter was 297,800 head, 26,000 head or 8% lower than a year ago.

Beef cow slaughter in region 6 (AR LA NM OK TX), since the end of June has been down 6,300 head or 7.3% from last year. Why is it not down more? While pasture conditions in Oklahoma appear to be significantly better than a year ago, the situation in Texas is little changed from last year.

The expected reduction in beef cow slaughter is one component of the total number of livestock that is expected to be slaughtered in the second half of the year. In addition to fewer beef cows coming to market, the expectation is for dairy cow slaughter to also trend lower. Improvements in dairy producer margins and fewer dairy cows coming from Canada will limit the overall supply of cows (Source CME Group).

How much food do we waste?

USDA, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, launched the U. S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on others across the food chain – including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailer, communities, and other government agencies to join the efforts to reduce, recover and recycle food waste.

Food waste in the United States is estimated at 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U. S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people’s stomachs. The amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at almost $390 per U. S. consumer in 2008, more than an average month’s food expenditures.

Snacking in America

Food maybe wasted and not making into people stomachs but snacks are. According to Food Product Design magazine here is a snap shot of “snacking in America.”

Americans consume, on average 2.3 snacks per day.

  • 17% – one snack per day
  • 41% – two snacks per day
  • 24% – three snacks per day
  • 13% – four snacks per day
  • 4% – five or more snacks per day

When do Americans snack?

  • 17% – 12 am to 6 am
  • 34% – 6 am to 11 am
  • 31% – 11 am to 2 pm
  • 56% – 2 pm to 5 pm
  • 51% – 5 pm to midnight

Where do Americans snack?

  • 70% – home
  • 12% – work
  • 7% – on the go

Why do Americans snack?

  • 28% – want to indulge in a treat
  • 27% – it’s an impulse
  • 16% – don’t feel like cooking or preparing a meal
  • 14% – feel stressed or anxious

How important is it for snack foods and beverages to be healthy? More than half of the respondents (57%) said that it is very important or important when snacking for the foods and beverages to be healthy. Yet… are the most popular snack foods healthy? Consumers may say they want healthy foods and beverages when snacking, but the two most often-mentioned snack foods and beverages are chips and soda.

UA, Department of Animal Science to Determine Magnesium Bioavailability from Red Lime

Animal Science graduate students Brandon Smith, Ashley Young, Elizabeth Backes, undergraduate student Taylor Drane, and Professor Ken Coffey are working in collaboration with James Caldwell from Lincoln University on a magnesium bioavailability study focused on red lime. Magnesium bioavailability is determined by measuring the difference in the amount of magnesium an animal consumes and excretes in their urine and feces. The amount the animal retains in their body shows the availability of that mineral.

Magnesium is necessary to include in animal feed. A lack of magnesium can cause grass tetany in cattle, which can cause convulsions, coma, and death. Preventing one cow from the disease more than makes up for the cost of magnesium supplements.

Samples will be analyzed to determine the potential benefit of using red lime as a source of magnesium in animal feed. It also could become a possible alternative to other products on the market. “This study could give producers and feed manufacturers other options for meeting the magnesium needs of livestock,” says Dr. Coffey, professor for the Department of Animal Science.

Animal science undergraduate, Taylor Drane logs data gathered from the study.

Animal science undergraduate, Taylor Drane logs data gathered from the study.

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