News Update
Aug. 28, 2008

Association Announces New Contact for DNA Parent Verification Issues

The American Angus Association announces that Gayla Fuston is going to be working with the DNA parent verification projects. Gayla will be working with breeders and with Association staff in updating and providing solutions in DNA cases dealing with parentage and other tests currently being run by the Association. DNA cases continue to see rapid growth in the expanding business we see in embryo calves, clones and the desire of confirmed parentage on high-dollar cattle being sold.

Gayla will be assuming her new duties Sept. 8. She will be working with Shirley Holland who has handled the correspondence dealing with notification to breeders and other entities within the beef industry.

— Release provided by American Angus Association.

Cattle Producers Head to Class at Cattlemen’s Boot Camp

Classes weren’t in session yet at Texas A&M University (TAMU), but that didn’t stop nearly 60 cattle producers from enhancing their knowledge of beef production. Attendees from four states attended the Cattlemen’s Boot Camp Aug. 22-23 at the Texas A&M Beef Center in College Station to learn about all segments of production, both in the classroom and through hands-on opportunities.

The American Angus Association organized the Boot Camp along with the host TAMU. Additional funding for the Boot Camp is provided through the Angus Foundation.

The Cattlemen’s Boot Camp is a one-and-a-half day learning opportunity for all cattle producers and covers reproduction, nutrition, herd health, marketing and producing a high-quality end product. 

Bill Mies, TAMU professor emeritus in beef cattle science, presented the keynote address and discussed both customer service and producing a high-quality product that meets consumer demands. He persuaded those in attendance to take their marketing skills beyond the point of closing the sale.

“When the bull leaves your ranch and you’ve cashed the check, you have taken the first step in marketing, not the last,” Mies said as he encouraged the seedstock producers to build relationships with their customers to better understand their needs. He also encouraged ranchers to understand the consumer needs, predicting that the majority of retail beef will be sold through branded programs in the next five years.

Other program topics addressed during the first session by TAMU experts included maintaining reproductive performance, by L.R. Sprott; utilizing low-quality forages by Tryon Wickersham; and phenotypic cattle evaluation with Paul Maulsby. Maulsby also covered permanent identification and body condition scores (BCSs) in interactive sessions with live cattle. An afternoon at the meats lab included meat scientist Davey Griffin discussing carcass grading and determining carcass value. Participants had the opportunity to view carcasses and see the various cuts of beef.

Gary Fike, Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), talked about marketing trends and aligning with branded beef programs to realize value of the product. Bill Bowman, American Angus Association chief operating officer (COO), wrapped up Day 1 with an explanation of selection tools, including expected progeny differences (EPDs) and $Value indexes available from the Association. The group then made bull selection decisions based on a given scenario and past cow herd data from a mock herd.

“The hands-on BCS and EPD exercise were very good at putting all the information together,” commented one participant on an event survey.

The second day began with Ty Groshans, director of commercial programs for the Association, discussing the value of source-verification programs and working with commercial producers. Erin Johnston, senior communications manager for the Texas Beef Council, provided an overview to the producers on how to communicate with others and the media about safely produced nutritious beef.

Buddy Faries, TAMU professor and Extension program leader in veterinary medicine, captivated the attendees with two sessions — managing dystocia in beef cattle and establishing a herd health program. He demonstrated various methods of assisted calf delivery and discussed the importance of establishing and implementing an annual health program. 

“This is one of the best courses I’ve attended in any profession,” wrote another Boot Camp attendee.

This is the ninth Cattlemen’s Boot Camp organized by the American Angus Association with funding by the Angus Foundation. The Angus Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that funds and supports programs involving education, youth and research in the Angus breed and the agricultural industry. Cattlemen’s Boot Camps are planned at various universities across the country and are open to all cattle producers. Watch for more information on future Boot Camps.

— Release provided by American Angus Association.

USDA Announced Proposed Rule for Requirements of the Disposition of Downer cattle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a proposed rule to amend the Federal meat inspection regulations to initiate a complete ban on the harvest of cattle that become nonambulatory after initial inspection by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspection program personnel.

This proposed rule follows the May 20 announcement by Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer to remove the provision that states that FSIS inspection program will determine the disposition of cattle that become nonambulatory disabled after they have passed ante-mortem, before harvest, inspection on a case-by-case basis. Under the proposed rule, all cattle that are nonambulatory disabled at any time prior to harvest, including those that become nonambulatory disabled after passing ante-mortem inspection, will be condemned and properly disposed of.

“To maintain consumer confidence in the food supply, eliminate further misunderstanding of the rule and, ultimately, to make a positive impact on the humane handling of cattle, I believe it is sound policy to simplify this matter by initiating a complete ban on the slaughter of downer cattle,” said Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer.

On July 13, 2007, FSIS published the final rule, “Prohibition of the Use of Specified Risk Materials for Human Food and Requirements for the Disposition of Non-Ambulatory Disabled Cattle; Prohibition of the Use of Certain Stunning Devices Used To Immobilize Cattle During Slaughter,” (SRM final rule). The SRM final rule allowed a case-by-case reinspection of cattle to address the rare situations where an animal that is deemed by FSIS as fit for human food at ante-mortem inspection subsequently suffers an acute injury.

Under the proposed rule, cattle that become nonambulatory disabled from an acute injury after ante-mortem inspection will no longer be eligible to proceed to harvest as “U.S. Suspects.” Instead, FSIS inspectors will tag these cattle as “U.S. condemned” and prohibit these animals from proceeding to harvest. Establishments will be required to notify FSIS personnel when cattle become disabled after passing ante-mortem inspection.

Of the nearly 34 million cattle that were harvested in 2007, less than 1,000 cattle that were reinspected were actually approved by the veterinarian for harvest. This represents less than 0.003% of cattle harvested annually.

Comments on this proposed rule must be received on or before Sept. 29. Comments can be sent to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 2534 South Agriculture Building, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250; e-mailed to or submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at

All submissions received by mail or electronic mail must reference the FSIS and include the docket number FSIS-2008-0022.

For further technical information on the proposed rule, contact Dr. Daniel Engeljohn, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy and Program Development, at 202-205-0495 or by fax at 202-720-2025.

— Release provided by USDA.

— compiled by Tosha Powell, assistant editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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