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News Update

February 13, 2013

NUBeef-BCS, NUBeef-UTS Scoring Apps Now Available

Two new University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) Extension beef apps will help producers manage their beef cow herds better.

NUBeef-BCS and NUBeef-UTS are available in the Google Play and Apple App Store, said Rick Rasby, UNL Extension beef specialist, who developed the app along with UNL EdMedia's Mark Hendricks.

NUBeef-UTS is an udder and teat scoring app. It based on the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) scoring system and allows producers to score teats and udders against the BIF standard.

NUBeef-BCS allows producers to visually assess their cow herd using a number system that objectively describes the amount of condition or fat reserve on the animal.

“When you look at the nutrition program, it is one of the greatest costs for the cow-calf producer. The way we monitor that program is through body condition of the herd,” Rasby said. Body condition score describes the relative fatness of a cow based on a nine-point scale.

When using the NUBeef-BCS app, producers can simply take photos of their beef cows and then score cows at important times throughout the year, such as at weaning and before the start of calving and breeding season.

Taking pictures of the same cow multiple times throughout the year allows producers to better manage the herd, Rasby said.

“If you are unsure of a body condition score of a cow, there also is a guide and pictures with the app that can be your guide,” Rasby said.

He said one of the challenges during winter is that producers want to score body conditions, but cows have their winter hair coats. The app includes drawings of cows in different body condition scores that also can help with that.

Calving season is the perfect time to start using the app, Rasby said. He said the app also is good for hired hands to use to score cows and then go over conditions with the cattle manager so that employees and managers are on the same page.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Interpreting USDA’s Latest Cattle Report

While the overall animal inventory was unaltered in the latest USDA cattle report, revisions to the 2012 numbers in several categories have affected interpretations of the report.

The inventory of all cattle and calves was 89.3 million head, a decrease of 1.6% from the unrevised 2012 value. The estimated inventory of beef cows on Jan. 1, 2013, was 29.3 million head, down 2.9% from year-ago levels.

Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University (OSU) Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist, said the estimate for Jan. 1, 2012, was increased by 275,000 head, which means the decrease from 2011 to 2012 was not as severe as earlier indicated.

“Though the drop in beef cow numbers in 2012 was larger in percentage terms than pre-report estimates, the overall level of inventory is pretty close to what was expected,” he said. “In other words, we had a bigger drop from a bigger total and ended up about where we thought we would be.”

Nearly all of the revision in beef cow numbers was in Oklahoma and Texas, suggesting that cow liquidation in 2011 was not as severe as earlier estimated in the two states. By contrast, Texas lost even more beef cows in 2012 — a decrease of 12% — while Oklahoma beef cow numbers dropped a modest 1.3% in 2012.

Also revised in the recent report was the estimate for beef replacement heifers. For Jan. 1, 2012, an additional 50,000 head of beef replacement heifers was added to the estimates for Nebraska and Oklahoma, resulting in a 2.4% increase in the inventory of beef replacement heifers at the beginning of 2012. This sets the estimated inventory of beef replacement heifers for Jan. 1, 2013, as a year-over-year 1.9% increase.

“Revised data for the replacement heifers indicate, more than anything else, the contrast between what the industry would like to do compared to what they are able to do,” Peel said. “Though the 2012 inventory of beef replacement heifers was up, the drought and continued beef cow liquidation meant that a very low percentage of those potential replacement heifers actually entered the herd.”

For more information and the full release, click here.

Farm Bureau Raises Record Food, Funds for Feeding America

The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau raised a record $971,235 and donated a record of more than 24 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program in partnership with Feeding America. Combined, the monetary and food donations also reached a record level of the equivalent of more than 28 million meals.

Now in its 10th year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, but Farm Bureau members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort. In all, a record 21 state Farm Bureaus heeded the call to action. The joint effort between Farm Bureau and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, is a national community action program through which farmers and ranchers can help ensure every American enjoys the bounty they produce.

In addition to raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers tallied 11,333 volunteer friend hours assisting local hunger groups in 2012. “The Harvest for All program is a tangible and visible way for Farm Bureau members to serve their communities,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “I am proud of our young farmers and ranchers and each of the state Farm Bureaus who literally helped us feed our great nation, and achieve record contributions in the process.”

For more information and the full release, click here.

Iowa Learning Farms Webinar Features Leopold Center Director

The Iowa Learning Farms’ (ILF)Wednesday, Feb. 20, webinar will feature Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (LCSA) director Mark Rasmussen. The webinar, which begins at 11:30 a.m., is part of a free series, hosted by ILF, through Adobe Connect. The series is usually hosted on the third Wednesday of each month. All that is needed to participate is a computer with Internet access.

Rasmussen began work June 1, 2012, as director of the Leopold Center. His professional and scientific expertise extends to various areas of agriculture, microbiology, food safety, animal health, ruminant nutrition and antibiotic resistance. His appointment to LCSA followed a long and successful career as a research microbiologist at the National Animal Disease Center, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facility in Ames, Iowa; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine in Laurel, Md. At the Center for Veterinary Medicine, he was supervisory microbiologist and research director. In that position he provided technical guidance and research support for regulatory decisions on drugs, feed additives and contaminants in animal feeds. At the USDA ARS National Animal Disease Center, he managed food safety research including projects on E. coli, Salmonella, antibiotic resistance, plant toxins and gut microbiology/ecology. He holds two patents for optical scanning instrumentation that detects contamination on beef carcasses.

Rasmussen grew up on a farm in northeastern Nebraska. He has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a master’s degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, a doctorate in dairy science from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and a master’s of business administration from Iowa State University.

For more information and the full release, click here.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary and U.S. Trade Representative’s Statement on Russia’s Suspension of U.S. Meat Exports

United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued the following statement in response to Russia's suspension of U.S. meat imports:

“The United States is very disappointed that Russia has taken action to suspend all imports of U.S. meat, which is produced to the highest safety standards in the world. Russia has disregarded the extensive and expert scientific studies conducted by the international food safety standards body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), which has repeatedly concluded that animal feed containing the additive ractopamine is completely safe for livestock and for humans that consume their meat. Russia's failure to adopt the Codex standard raises questions about its commitment to the global trading system. Despite repeated U.S. requests to discuss the safety of ractopamine, Russia has refused to engage in any constructive dialogue and instead has simply suspended U.S. meat imports. The United States calls on Russia to restore market access for U.S. meat and meat products immediately and to abide by its obligations as a Member of the World Trade Organization.”


As of February 11, 2013, Russia is prohibiting imports of all U.S. beef, pork, turkey and other meat products by requiring a zero tolerance for the presence of ractopamine. Ractopamine is a safe additive for animal feed that is used in 27 countries, and has been shown to be completely safe at levels established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the United Nation’s Codex Alimentarius Commission, the preeminent food safety international standards organization.


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