Beef Cattle Browsing – January 2004

Beef Cattle Browsing

Editor: Dr. Stephen Hammack, Professor & Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Emeritus

January 2004

This newsletter is published by Texas AgriLife Extension – Animal Science. Media, feel free to use this information as needed and cite Texas A&M University Beef Cattle Browsing Newsletter, Dr. Steve Hammack.

Univ. of Illinois and Univ. of Nebraska researchers compared Roundup-ready corn with three established hybrids in three separate studies. Each study used from 175 to 200 yearling British-Continental crossbred steers. No significant differences were found due to corn type in feed intake, average daily gain, feed efficiency, final weight, carcass weight, ribeye area, fat cover, Quality Grade, or Yield Grade. (J. Animal Sci. 81:2600)

In a collaborative study, Oklahoma State Univ. and Univ. Of Missouri researchers classified Angus X Hereford cows at calving as thin (avg. BCS = 4.4) or moderate (avg. BCS = 5.1). For the first 71 days after calving, all cows had 4% CP prairie hay ad lib. Half of the cows were fed to gain 1 lb/day (M), by supplementing with 4-5 lb/day of 34% CP cubes. The other half had free access to 10% CP, 60-65% TDN feed, and gained 2 lb/day (H). H cows averaged intake of 35 lb/day of supplement. All cows were then fed to gain 1 lb/day until 21 days after first estrus. During the 71-day period after calving, thin M cows lost 0.1 BCS compared to a loss of 0.5 BCS for moderate M. Thin H gained 0.6 BCS versus 0.3 BCS gain for moderate H. Averaged across both initial BCS groups, pregnancy rate of M was 57.6 % vs. 76.3% for H. Production of weaning weight averaged 22 pounds heavier for H. Increasing BCS after calving resulted in better reproductive performance, especially for thinner cows, and heavier weaning weights. However, this report did not compare these benefits with the extra nutritional cost to obtain them. (J. Animal Sci. 81:3107)

The National Animal Disease Center in Ames, IA has created a new live vaccine that does not contain foreign DNA. The vaccine can be injected (giving protection in 7-10 days) or fed (protecting in 3-4 days). Vaccinated high-risk calves had a mortality rate of 4% vs. 16% for unvaccinated. Also, there was some advantage for vaccinated in weight gain during the first 35 days of feeding. (However, such early advantage often is lost over entire feeding periods.) The vaccine has not yet been approved by the USDA. But it may have promise, and offers the additional method of vaccinating by feeding. (Am. Soc. of Animal Sci. FASS Track, 12/17/03)

Well, it finally happened. BSE is here. We probably should not be surprised, given the increased movement of cattle in today’s world, and the fact that BSE evidently occurs spontaneously and randomly at an extremely low rate. Aside from the, it is hoped, short-term effects on price, there will almost surely be other drastic changes. We’ll no longer be putting downers into the meat supply. Some are demanding that no animal (not just cattle) used for human consumption be fed any part of another animal, so we may have an increase in the supply of fertilizer, or need more landfills or incinerators. There appears to be little doubt that some system of national animal identification will be implemented, sooner rather than later. Some elected officials are calling for Country of Origin Labeling to be implemented without delay, even though such labeling would not have prevented this occurrence of BSE. The list of possibilities, some beneficial but others not, is almost endless. It has been said that after 9/11 the world will never be the same. After BSE, the beef business will never be the same.

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