News Update
June 20, 2011

Follow @AJeditor on Twitter as Intern Katie Gazda Tweets From the Road

Angus Journal intern Katie Gazda will be tweeting from the road this week as she covers the Beef Leaders Institute (BLI). Follow @AJeditor to catch her tweets or search for hashtag #BLI11.

The fourth annual BLI, which begins this evening, is designed to give American Angus Association members between the ages of 25 and 45 insight to all segments of the beef industry. Its overall goal is to build stronger, more effective leaders for the Angus breed and the beef industry.

During the course of the four-day tour, participants will visit and talk to beef industry stakeholders in various segments of the industry — from feedlots to restaurants. Catch a glimpse as it happens by following @AJeditor and #BLI11.

— by Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, Angus Productions Inc.

June Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA eMails Today

The June edition of the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA emails today with highlights of the recent Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) meeting in Bozeman, Mont., among its traditional news, marketing, management, and health and nutrition articles. The free electronic newsletter emails on or about the 20th of the month. Signup is available at

The Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA is hosted by Angus Productions Inc. (API), owner of the Angus Journal® and Angus Beef Bulletin.® News sent to subscribers will come from material authored by staff of API, the American Angus Association and Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), as well as state Extension specialists and other experts in the industry.

This is not a discussion group. If a subscriber has information pertinent to this e-mail newsletter, they may submit that information for consideration to the editorial team at

Subscribers have the right to unsubscribe at any time by sending an email to: Upon receipt of your request to unsubscribe, we will immediately remove your email address from the list.

We respect the privacy of our subscribers. We will not sell, rent, or loan our subscriber list to third parties for email marketing.

— by Shauna Rose Hermel, editor.

Kansas Farmers Union to Host Renewable Energy Tour

Kansas Farmers Union (KFU) will host an Alternative Energy and Grass Finished Beef Tour at Herb and Pat Bartels’ farm at 1220 220th St. in Hillsboro July 7 at 1:30 p.m.

The tour will highlight solar energy, wind energy and grass-fed beef. The Bartels have installed a 2.4 KW wind turbine and a 2.6 KW solar unit on their Marion County farm. They also have a solar battery charger for tractors and trucks.

“Renewable energy in the form of wind and solar just has to be in the future of our civilization,” said Donn Teske, president of KFU. “It’s non-polluting, and, after the initial cost, it’s free besides maintenance. And with the chokehold the big boys have on the grid system here in Kansas, any form of community-owned wind and solar is just about going to have to be at the farm level itself.”

Most months, between the two systems, the Flint Hills Rural Electric Association receives an average of 400 KW from their farm.

“I feel strongly that every farm should have 10 KW of wind or solar generation,” Herb Bartel said. “We find great satisfaction in being net renewable energy producers.”

Also featured on this tour will be the Bartels’ joint grass-fed beef program with Jason Schmidt. Schmidt is finishing the beef on a volunteer wheat and red clover forage mix, using rotational grazing to maximize the nutrition for the calves. Schmidt has recently returned to his farm near Newton to continue grass-fed research with beef and sheep.

“There is great interest in the health benefits that grass-fed beef adds to a diet, especially concerning Omega-3s, ‘good’ unsaturated fats, and higher CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) content,” said Mary Howell, membership specialist for KFU. “All lean beef is very nutritious, provides great protein, iron, vitamins and minerals to improve and maintain good health in a balanced diet.”

The tour will also feature speakers and refreshments, and a pair of Farm Aid concert tickets will be given away.

For directions and more information visit

— Release by KFU.

Secretary Vilsack Leads U.S. Delegation to G-20 Summit of Agricultural Ministers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will lead the U.S. government’s delegation to the G-20 Summit of Agricultural Ministers in Paris on June 22 and 23. The focus of the summit is on international efforts to ensure global food security. The G-20 was established in 1999 to bring together major advanced and emerging economies to help bring stability to global markets. France chairs the G-20 in 2011.

“Coming together at the G-20 to focus on the critical issue of food security is a very significant and positive development for all of the countries involved,” said Vilsack. “Our goal as an international community is clear: to reduce the number of hungry people by increasing the availability and accessibility of nutritious food around the world. The meetings will establish further cooperation to increase agricultural productivity for a growing global population, as well as priorities for the effectiveness of international agricultural and information systems. It is equally important that we take this opportunity, in light of high energy and commodity prices, to improve market transparency and end market distorting practices.”

Vilsack will also speak to aviation representatives participating in the Paris Air Show, the largest gathering of the world aerospace industry, about USDA’s commitment to the development of alternative fuels to improve economic opportunities, decrease dependence on oil, and increase environmental benefits of flying. USDA is among the forefront of federal efforts to support the development of bio-based fuels, including aviation fuel. USDA’s commitment to the development of alternative fuels will benefit the aerospace industry, both economically and environmentally. Last October, USDA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a five-year agreement to develop aviation fuel from forest and crop residues. In January 2010, USDA and the Department of the Navy announced a partnership to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.

This will be the first meeting of all agricultural ministers in the Group of Twenty (G-20). In addition to the United States, the G-20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the Republic of Korea, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

— Release by USDA.

Warming Boxes Help MSU Calves Grow Into Healthy Cows

Controlling and managing the spread of Johne’s disease is a priority in dairy operations of all sizes, but farm managers at the Michigan State University (MSU) Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center have an even greater incentive riding on achieving this goal than do most: Diagnosing a cow infected with the disease can result in erroneous data results on university-led research projects.

Though Johne’s disease, a contagious and untreatable disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, or MAP, typically occurs in calves, animals generally don’t express clinical signs of the disease until later in life.

So, in 2002, the MSU Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center signed their cattle on as a test herd for the Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project, a near decade-long research project conducted by MSU researchers and MSU Extension specialists that evaluated Johne’s disease control strategies in an effort to identify which management practices are the most effective at controlling the spread of the disease.

“We were very interested in participating in the Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project,” said Bob Kreft, farm manager at the MSU Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center. “We wanted to identify and quickly eliminate any Johne’s from the herd because if our animals are Johne’s-positive, it can confuse the other research going on in the barns.”

The herd’s 250 head of lactating dairy animals were tested for the disease and any animals confirmed positive with Johne’s were culled. The project team members also conducted an on-farm audit for possible areas of transmission and determined that the two areas of concern were the calving area and the practice of feeding pooled colostrum to newborn calves. Though testing had confirmed that the prevalence of the disease in the herd was very low, Kreft worked with the research team to modify management practices to reduce it even further.

To control the spread of Johne’s disease in the calving area, farm employees designed warming boxes for outside of the maternity pens. Now, as soon as calves are born, they are transferred from the pen in which they’re born to one of these separate calf boxes. The boxes are built on an elevated, grated floor equipped with small space heaters that can be turned on during cooler weather.

Additionally, the tractor and feed mixer no longer travel through areas in the barn where there may be manure. MAP can be spread throughout the barn when manure clings to the tires of farm equipment. The tractors now drive into the feeding alley, backing out after delivering feed instead of driving over the areas where the cows walk. This eliminates the spread of MAP.

Animal pens have also been rearranged so that the breeding-age heifers don’t come in contact with the milking-age animals. Previously, the two groups were only separated by a gate, which still allowed contact between the younger and older animals.

“On this farm, a heifer doesn’t meet a cow until she’s 22 months of age,” Kreft said.

MSU continues to monitor the herd’s progress by conducting herd tests at mid-gestation and when cows calve. Despite the aggressive strategy, occasionally an animal tests positive for Johne’s, further justifying the importance of having a long-term evaluation and management strategy in place.

The Michigan Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project was a partnership between the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, MSU Extension, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in collaboration with nine Michigan veterinary clinics. Findings from the Michigan farms involved in the study were pooled with data collected from 17 other states as part of the larger, multistate project, the National Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project.

Find additional information on the Michigan Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project at

— Release by MSU Extension.

Ideas to Improve Water Quality

How can we reduce nutrient loads in surface water by amending what we do around the home? Some recent thought in the agricultural arena provides some direction for those who want to do their part to improve the environment.

Over the last several months, Illinois producers have begun to hear about the “4 Rs” — applying the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, in the right place. The goal of this “4R initiative” is to improve the industry’s stewardship of natural resources — to prove that production agriculture can both recognize and solve environmental problems without government oversight. In particular, the program seeks to reduce nutrient loads that may contribute to the Hypoxia/low oxygen zone in the Gulf of Mexico. While the “4Rs” have been developed to guide industry decision-making related to fertilizer use, the principles set forth are not unique to agriculture and can easily be transferred to the home.

Applying the fertilizer source: Applying the right fertilizer source is an incredibly valuable approach to reducing nutrient loads that result in excessive, oxygen-consuming plant growth. Surface water can be compromised when homeowners apply slow release fertilizers in proximity to bodies of water. Where a homeowner hopes to improve water quality, quick release fertilizers that can be rapidly taken up by the plant are a great idea. Rapid uptake by the plant will equate to less nutrient “run-in,” which can help reduce nutrient loads. The exception to this would be those areas typified by shallow aquifers. In shallow aquifer areas, where groundwater is the concern, a slow-release fertilizer may actually be preferred.

Applying the right fertilizer rate: Calibration of equipment is a well-worn mantra in production agriculture. Homeowners can use this same principle to decrease off target movement of nutrients into surface water. Calibration simply consists of taking a test run, capturing released material during that test run (provided that it is safe to do so — the material is not caustic and/or does not contain pesticides), weighing the captured material, and verifying that the rate being applied is the amount that one intended to apply. If not, adjustments are made until the spreader releases the desired amount of material. The issue of reduced application rates can be tied into this concept, as well. In agriculture, corn-soybean rotations supply a 40 pound (lb.) per acre nitrogen credit (in other words 40 lb. less nitrogen is needed by corn that follows soybeans). Around the home, homeowners can reduce nitrogen rates by 40% if they simply leave lawn clippings instead of bagging them.

Applying fertilizer at the right time: Nitrogen and phosphorus — the two primary culprits behind low oxygen issues in surface water — should be applied when plants are actively growing. Common sense would say that if nutrients are applied when plants are actively growing, those nutrients tend to appear in the plant rather than in surface water. Consider the example of a fertilizer application made when ground is frozen — not only are plants not growing, fertilizer also remains on the surface where it can be more easily washed away. In the case of nitrogen, this may mean reducing nitrogen applications around the home to two times during the year (once in May and once around Labor Day). Phosphorus should only be applied once and, as we will see, it probably is not needed in most yards.

Applying fertilizer in the right place: Several different ideas come to mind when the issue of “the right place” is addressed. In agriculture, we would caution producers to consider grass waterways to capture phosphorus in sediment as that sediment washes from the field. The vast majority of fields in our area have exceptional phosphorus levels. Agronomists thus encourage producers to soil sample to determine their own situation, refraining from phosphorus applications where the Bray P1 test describes the nutrient as being above the “no application point.” Around the home, the story is much the same. Phosphorus is adequate in the vast majority of yards. A soil test can tell the homeowner where they are from a P-standpoint. If P is fine — don't apply it. Where one’s yard rests close to a body of water, the homeowner should consider a “couple score” worth of feet in which they apply no phosphorus fertilizer. In other words, the homeowner should use part of their yard as a vegetative filter strip. If phosphorus is applied uphill from this buffer area, consider coring/aerating the area. This may increase absorption of the nutrient into the soil, thus decreasing runoff.

Release by Matt Montgomery, University of Illinois Extension.

— Compiled by Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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