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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

December 28, 2017

Ag Census Under Way

Farmers and ranchers across America will have their voices heard in the USDA Census of Agriculture, and the data collected in the coming months will certainly help shape agricultural policy for years to come.

The census began in 1840 and is conducted every five years to get a complete picture of American agriculture.

Farm operations that produced and sold at least $1,000 of agricultural product in 2017 are included. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) started mailing surveys to producers of all sizes in December, and responses should be collected by Feb. 5.

The resulting data will be used by farmers, ranchers, trade associations, researchers, policymakers, academics and many others to help make important decisions in farm policies, technology development, rural development and more, according to USDA.

For example, the last census helped quantify several important trends in agriculture, such as the number of farms selling directly to consumers and retailers, a 144% increase in farms using renewable energy and the upward march of farm expenses — a trend that has continued even as crop prices have fallen, precipitating an historical decline in net farm income.

Continue reading this Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

Implications of Recent Feedlot Reports

Cattle on feed supplies continue to increase, a function of larger calf crops in 2016 and in 2017. The 2016 calf crop was estimated by USDA to be 35.083 million head, almost 1 million head larger than a year ago. The 2017 calf crop will be reported in the USDA January Cattle Inventory survey, but early estimates peg the number at 36.3 million head, 1.2 million more than the previous year.

Feedlots have increased placements in all cattle weight categories. More recently, the fastest increase has been in placements of light calves. Strong beef demand and more limited wheat grazing opportunities have encouraged this trend. Before we look at the details of the placements by weight, let’s consider the aggregate numbers.

In the last three months feedlots placed 6.642 million head of cattle on feed, about 733,000 head more than the same three-month period a year ago. If we were to assume a simple 150 days on feed for this additional feedlot supply, it would imply that cattle placed during this three-month period will be available between the end of January and the end of April.

Read the full report online at

Research to Help Opioid Crisis

NIH-funded scientists may have revealed brain functions in preclinical research that widen the safety margin for opioid pain relief without overdose.

Opioid pain relievers can be extremely effective in relieving pain, but can carry a high risk of addiction and ultimately overdose when breathing is suppressed and stops. Scientists have discovered a way to separate these two effects — pain relief and breathing — opening a window of opportunity to make effective pain medications without the risk of respiratory failure. The research, published in Cell, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Opioid medications suppress pain by binding to specific receptors (proteins) in the brain; these same receptors also produce respiratory suppression. However, the way these receptors act to regulate pain and breathing may be fundamentally different. Studies using mouse genetic models suggest that avoiding one particular signaling pathway led to more favorable responses to morphine (pain relief without respiration effects). The investigators then explored if they could make drugs that would turn on the pathways associated with pain relief and avoid the pathways associated with respiratory suppression.

Learn more in the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

Backgrounding Options

After weaning, there are several programs that can be used to grow calves at a targeted rate of gain and help ensure good productivity and future performance after they enter the feedlot.

Bart Lardner, research scientist at Western Beef Development Center, University of Saskatchewan, says backgrounding aims for a controlled rate of growth, trying to maximize frame size before depositing fat.

“That way we can produce a greater carcass weight at slaughter. It’s all about muscle development and skeletal size for the best potential growth,” he says.

Every animal has a certain growth potential.

“What that ultimate growth can be is controlled by genetics, but the part we can control is environment and nutrition. Most spring-born calves are weaned at 5 to 7 months [of age], and many go into a backgrounding program, depending on the end target,” Lardner explains.

Some light calves are put on a growing ration during winter and then go to grass in the spring for several months.

It all depends on the producer’s situation, and what’s available as feed.

Read this Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

Drought Affords New Perspective

Every cattle producer looks at use of resources and application of management practices through a different lens, and each producer’s lens is filtered by experience. With that in mind, USDA Agricultural Research Service Range Scientist Justin Derner said drought may not be all bad.

Speaking during Range Beef Cow Symposium XXV, hosted Nov. 28-30 in Cheyenne, Wyo., Derner suggested experiencing drought can make a range cattle producer take a hard look at his or her operation and think about how they might do things differently — even during years of more “normal” precipitation. Drought may not be all bad if it is a catalyst for changes that are beneficial for the long term.

Derner said drought can be “an expensive education,” but it can teach producers to be proactive by becoming adaptive managers.

Keep reading this Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.


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