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Challenges outlined, technology displayed at 2007 Cattle Industry Convention

Agriculture.com Staff 02/01/2007 @ 7:46am

At the opening ceremony of the Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville on Wednesday, outgoing NCBA president Mike John and other industry leaders challenged producers to try hard to work with the new Democratic leadership in Congress.

"We're not Democrats, we're not Republicans, we're cattlemen," they said. "We work both sides of the aisle, and we've always been successful at it."

Other challenges issued at the kick-off forum included:

  • With the current federal tax credits in place, and with crude oil at $60 a barrel, the ethanol industry can afford to pay as much as $4.05 a bushel for corn, and still be profitable. But without the tax credits, the number would be closer to $2.50 that ethanol producers could pay for corn. The tax credit is a policy issue that beef producers need to deal with.
  • Before BSE closed down U.S. beef exports three years ago, exports added $95 to the value of each beef carcass in the U.S. That went almost to 0 after BSE. With new borders opening last year, we've rebounded to the number-three exporter in the world in 2006, from number 10 in 2005.
  • The natural/organic beef market continues to grow. It was one percent of the entire beef market in 2003. Although it is still small, it was up to 1.7% last year.

The talk on the trade show floor at the Convention was about ways to cheapen feedlot rations. Kevin McBride of Alltech, a feed ingedient company, was getting a lot of interest in a product they have called Optigen. It is a blended urea product that can replace some or all of the protein source in a ration, such as cottonseed meal or soybean meal.

With current price relationships, it can save money, McBride said. He also said Alltech has a new product for monogastric animals (pigs and chickens) called Allzyme SSF. When fed with distiller's grains, the product may help stabilize the product, and help in fiber digestion. In theory, that would let chickens and hogs use higher levers of distiller's grains, but research on this is not complete.

Ike Bartels is the director of commodity procurement for Innovative Livestock Services, the parent company of six cattle feedyards in Nebraska and Kansas. He was fielding questions from cattlement about using alternative ingredients to cheapen corn-based feedlot rations.

"Corn is the best cattle feed, that's all there is to it," he says. "But we're all in the same boat out here, we've got to find ways to cheapen up these rations."

Innovative Livestock is feeding distiller's grains from the Russell, Kansas, ethanol plant, delivered in trucks to feedyards at 32% dry matter. He wouldn't say what he is paying for the DDGs, but said, "With $4 corn, they've jacked up the price of the DDGs."

He's also feeding wheat, and says it's cost-competitive to corn right now and makes sense to feed it in areas where wheat is plentiful. He's planning to experiment with feeding a combination of wheat and corn DDGs. "With wheat, once you start feeding it, you pretty much have to feed it for the whole feeding cycle on a group of cattle, for 90 to 120 days," he said. "Cattle don't adjust well if you start them on wheat, then switch it."

Also on the trade show floor, Mike Hesse and his team from BPI Technology was serving prime rib and hamburger samples to beef producers. BPI (www.beefproducts.com) makes a patented ingredient that is added to meat products to make them more tender and juicy.

"It raises the pH of the meat, helping it to hold more moisture," says Hesse. "We can take 95% ground beef and make it into the best-tasting ground beef you've ever had."

Editor's note: No argument from your reporter.

At a press conference on Wednesday, genetics company Ultimate Genetics (www.ultimategenetics.com) announced a new product that they claim can improve embryo transfer success by 10%.

At the time of embryo transfer to a cow, a prostaglandin hormone is released that often causes the embryo not to implant in the uterus. Pregnancy success rate is often limited to about 30% to 50% of all ETs ending up in a pregnancy.

This product, developed at the University of Tennessee and called Advantage Technology, suppresses the prostaglandin and improves the potential for success. It will be sold as an additive to the medium that is used when embryos are harvested.

The product won't be available until later in 2007, and the price is still being negotiated, but estimated to be $25 to $50 per flush of embryos from a donor cow.

At the opening ceremony of the Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville on Wednesday, outgoing NCBA president Mike John and other industry leaders challenged producers to try hard to work with the new Democratic leadership in Congress.

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