Beef Cattle Browsing – December 2010

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

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.

Ever wonder why there is so much whooping and hollering when working cattle? There may be several reasons, but handling cattle effectively is not one of them. Cattle can be best handled with low-stress techniques relying on minimal use of strategically-applied pressure. This method is based on the following principles:

  1. Cattle want to see you.
  2. Cattle want to go around you.
  3. Cattle want to be with and will go to other cattle.
  4. Cattle can think of only one thing at a time.

Based on these principles, the following points apply:

  1. The only way to work cattle quickly is slowly.
  2. Work form the front to draw cattle to you.
  3. Apply pressure when cattle have a place to go.
  4. Pressure from the side.
  5. Cattle must be comfortable to go by you and stay straight.
  6. Pressure cattle from behind only when absolutely necessary.
  7. When working cattle, move in triangles.
  8. Going with the flow of cattle slows them down or stops their movement.
  9. Going against the flow of cattle initiates or accelerates their movement.
  10. Cattle work best when theyare ready – You have to get them there.

These points are discussed in detail at

(Texas AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M Univ. Dept. of Anim. Sci.)

Changes to trichomoniasis regulations were adopted by the Texas Animal Health Commission effective November, 2010. A negative test is now valid for 60 days instead of the previous 30 days and that test may be transferred to a buyer. The same time extension and transfer provision now apply to bulls issued certificates of virgin status. Bulls imported from out of state must still be tested within 30 days of entry but bulls imported from certified artificial insemination facilities are exempt from testing. All of these changes apply ONLY if bulls have not been commingled with females. Untested, non-virgin Texas bulls may now be sold and placed in a trichomoniasis-certified feedlot before slaughter instead of having to be sent directly to slaughter. When bulls test positive, producers on adjacent premises are now notified by TAHC veterinarians and encouraged, but not to required, to test their bulls. (; downloaded 11/19/10)

A study compared four types of sires (with number of steer progeny in parentheses) as follows: Angus (241), Simmental (599), 50:50 Simmental-Angus (296), and 75:25 Simmental-Angus (120). Angus-sired steers had higher (P<0.05) fat cover, rate of fat deposition, and marbling. However, there was no difference (P<0.05) between sire groups in relationship of fat cover and marbling. That is, as marbling increased, fat cover tended to increase proportionally. This general relationship has been found in other studies, although there are individuals capable of depositing increasing amounts of marbling without proportional increases in fat cover. (Prof. Anim. Sci. 26:620; Univ. of Illinois, Elanco Animal Health, Univ. of Nebraska.)

Most U. S. consumers eat some form of animal protein; 97% eat chicken, 95% eat beef, 90% eat pork, 88% eat fish/seafood, and 34% eat lamb. A survey funded by the Beef Checkoff was conducted on how consumers view the safety of beef and other animal protein. From 2000 to 2010, consumer confidence in beef safety ranged from 74% to 91% for fresh steaks/roasts, and 60% to 84% for ground beef. Over the last two years, safety concerns were highest for fish/seafood, intermediate for chicken, and lowest for beef and pork. Confidence decreased shortly after adverse industry incidents such as E.coli recalls and media-distributed visual evidence of animal welfare abuse. However, declines in confidence tended to be relatively short lived.

The group of consumers with the highest level of confidence is more concerned with supermarket product than restaurant meals. However, the reverse is true for the group with lowest confidence. Consumers are most concerned with ground beef and vegetables. They are not well informed about correct preparation of ground beef. Almost 40% said they do not know the proper minimum internal temperature for cooked ground beef.

About 40% of consumers thought the number of food recalls had increased, but this perception declined somewhat since the previous year’s survey. There is greatest concern with bacteria or pesticides and least concern with genetically-modified or irradiated products. Consumers relate safety more to what is not done (no pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc.) than what is done (grass fed, free range, locally produced, etc.) However, label claims of what is not done are perceived as being less believable than what is done.

About 65% of consumers said they had heard the term “factory farming” used to describe how livestock are raised, and that figure has increased from about 50% since last year. Chicken is associated with “factory farming” by about 75% of consumers, with beef by about 50%, and with pork by about 35%. Interestingly, the association with “factory farming” is less than 10% for dairy, turkeys, or fish/seafood. As might be thought, those who associate a food with “factory farming” are more likely to be concerned about its safety.

Finally, about 45% of consumers are unwilling to pay any extra for specific types of beef. More would pay a premium for beef labeled “extra lean” than for any other claim. However, the amount that consumers would pay for preferred products was not investigated in this study. (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Research Report, October, 2010)

Angus-cross steers were fed 0%, 20%, or 40% wet distillers grains (WDG) with either low forage (12% grass hay in total ration, LF) or high forage (50% grass hay in total ration, HF). Steers were slaughtered in three groups when group-average live weights of approximately 1270 lb were attained.

Compared to HF, LF had higher (P<0.001) ADG, carcass weight and dressing percent, higher (P<0.01) numerical Yield Grade (lower leanness), and tended to have (P<0.08) larger ribeyes. Ribeye area (P<0.02) and Yield Grade (P<0.03) increased as WDG increased but there was no effect (P<0.25) of WDG on ADG. Among LF, marbling score tended to increase (P<0.10) as level of WDG increased. However, among HF, 20% WDG tended to be higher than both lower and higher levels of WDG. (J. Anim. Sci. 88:3657; Iowa State Univ.)


Data were analyzed from sales of 918 Angus and Red Angus bulls conducted after the 2008 and 2009 Midland, Montana bull tests. Average price paid was $3714 in 2008 and $3136 in 2009. Relationships were calculated for the following effects on price: age, efficiency (measured as RFI, residual feed intake), and EPDs for birth weight, birth to yearling gain, ribeye area, and IMF (intramuscular fat). Significant (P<0.01) effects on price ranked as follows, in descending order: gain, birth weight, age, RFI, and ribeye. IMF was not a significant factor, possibly because the breeds studied rank relatively high for marbling. Buyers preferred bulls that gained fast, had lower birth weights, were older, had superior (numerically lower) RFI, and had larger ribeyes. (Prof. Anim. Sci. 26:655; Montana St. Univ.)

Difficulties in data collection and analysis limit evaluation of females from different herds. Calving day (Julian calving date) and age at first calving can be more easily collected and analyzed than some measures. Records from over 2000 Angus females from two herds were used to evaluate heritabilities and genetic relationships of those two traits as possible genetic selection tools. Heritability of calving day was low. Heritability of age at first calving was moderate. However, there was a high negative genetic correlation between direct and maternal estimates of age at first calving, indicating that selecting on age at first calving may favor heifers born later in a calving season. For this reason, the authors indicated that selecting on calving day may be most useful. However, response from selection for either trait would be expected to be slight and slow. (J. Animal Sci. 88:1947; Kansas St. Univ., Iowa St. Univ.)

A summary of 15 studies with red meat and 11 studies with processed meat examined relationship between those foods and prostate cancer. There was no association between high versus low red meat consumption and total prostate cancer or between red meat consumption and advanced prostate cancer. Across all studies, there was a weak association between processed meat consumption and total prostate cancer. However, considering only studies that adjusted for confounding factors, this association was attenuated. The authors concluded that “the results are not supportive of an independent positive association between red or processed meat intake and prostate cancer.” So, blanket claims that red and processed meat cause prostate cancer are not scientifically supported by the average of the studies examined in this study. (Nutrition Journal 9:50,

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