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Angus Journal

The Angus Journal Daily, formerly the Angus e-List, is a compilation of Angus industry news; information about hot topics in the beef industry; and updates about upcoming shows, sales and events. Click here to subscribe.

News Update

October 2, 2017

Should I Cull or Keep that Cow?

When making culling decisions, it is important to have a plan to make the best decisions for your operation. The plan should include pregnancy testing and closely evaluating every cow and having a plan for marketing the culls.

Bruce Viney, risk management specialist for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, says there are no right answers that fit everyone, and the best decisions vary from year to year because cattle prices are unpredictable.

“Though prices tend to go up in summer and drop in the fall, they don’t always. Knowing your cost of production is crucial. Even though you might have lots of feed, this doesn’t mean you should put it into old cows. You might be better off to keep it for calves or another use,” he says.

“If you have older, thin cows that will bring the lower end of the price range, you might not want to spend much on feed to try to get them heavier. Sometimes you are better off to just sell them,” he continues.

Continue reading this Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

Beef Lessons from Dairy Conceptions

You’ve heard that the key to beef quality could lie in making sure a calf never has a bad day. A paper in the Journal of Dairy Science adds validity — and before you quit reading because the work didn’t come from the beef side, think for a minute about the dairy cow. She’s a model of uniform genetics and focused selection with little nutritional limit to gene expression. She can serve as a great model to evaluate environment for all cows, independent of genetics and nutritional resources.

Contrast that to the beef cow with variable genetics selected for multiple traits and often limited by her nutritional environment. These diverse conditions are why the debate rages on about ideal cow size and milk production level.

The dairy researchers in Florida and Colorado set out to see how the season of a heifer’s conception influences her later productive life. As you look at a pen of replacement beef heifers and judge their genetics, individual performance and disposition, this dairy study adds another variable. We often evaluate the expression of traits without considering the cause of the expression, but this work highlights the environment’s role.

Learn more in the full Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

Having Cattle that are Too Large or
Too Small has Real Consequences

The search for efficient cows at the Dickinson Research Extension Center has resulted in “cow math,” the translation of biological and economic efficiency into the herd production inventory based on land units.

That is a lot to understand, but doable. The beef industry has efficient cows, but the definition of efficiency varies depending on the background of the discussion.

At the center the search started in the mid-1990s. Some cows in the herd were approaching 1,800 to 2,000 pounds because growth was prevalent in the background genetics of the cattle and purchased sires were good growth bulls. Heifer replacement was a side product of these good growth bulls.

If raised heifers were short in number, then purchased heifers generally were crossbred. These purchased heifers were from various sources, and their mature weights were indicative of growth bulls. In other words, the cows matured at weights similar to the center’s raised heifers.

To no surprise, the center’s cattle were a product of available growth genes within the beef business. Was this an issue? Not really, because the cattle performed well all the way to harvest.

Read the full Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA column online.

Carcass Quality Starts In Utero

Kim Vonnahme, professor at North Dakota State University, defined fetal programming as the in vitro environment that leads to a successful animal pregnancy. Speaking Aug. 30 at the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) symposium in Manhattan, Kan., she outlined what it takes to reach the animal’s full genetic potential for carcass quality from the fetal phase.

“A classic animal breeding example is phenotype plus genotype plus environment,” Vonnahme said. “An animal can’t reach [its] genetic potential for carcass quality if the uterine environment is suboptimal.”

Fetal programming occurs naturally, she continued. It takes place when a stimulus or insult establishes a permanent response in the uterus. The developmental programming hypothesis outlines how an animal is housed in a mother’s uterus can predict how it will grow and be after it’s born.

“What happens in the development phase is what will program an animal for later in life,” she said. “Timing is everything when we look at stressors or restrictors in pregnancies. It all depends on when the restriction occurs.”

For more information, view the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

Local Ranching Event Scheduled for Oct. 5 in San Marcos

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) will host a ranch gathering on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, at the San Marcos Rec Hall in San Marcos, Texas. Registration will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by a complimentary beef dinner.

The event is free and open to the public.

TSCRA Special Ranger Kenny Murchison will be on hand to provide a law enforcement update and offer ranchers information on how they can keep their livestock and equipment safe and secure. Attendees will receive an update on the 85th Texas Legislative Session and recent government affairs activities, including private property rights initiatives. Other areas of interest to cattle raisers and the community will be discussed, as well.

Please RSVP to 800-242-7820, ext. 192, or

The San Marcos Rec Hall is located at 170 Charles Austin Drive, San Marcos TX 78666.

The ranch gathering is sponsored by Elanco, Capital Farm Credit and official Arrowquip dealer, WB Farm and Ranch.

All members of the press are invited to attend.



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