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Beef product companies look ahead to an unsure 2009

Agriculture.com Staff 01/30/2009 @ 8:08am

As producers look ahead to 2009, will this year be as volatile? Will grain prices remain elevated in the future? What does this mean for prices and profitability in the years ahead?

While companies like Destron Fearing, Pfizer, Merial, and Y-Tex can't answer the first two questions, they're hoping they can help producers take a step toward increasing profitability with a variety of new products they're unveiling as well as research initiatives being pursued.

Destron Fearing's r.Tag system, an active RFID tag technology, allows the automatic collection of identification and data in correlation with specific locations. The device can be read at distances up to 100 feet. When coupled with the r.Tag Position Indicators, an animal's location can be established within a few feet. This tag will help producers track their animals more quickly and efficiently.

Merial's two new IGENITY software programs are customizable information management Web-based applications that provide producers an additional tool to better utilize data gained on cattle, which, in turn, will help them make more confident decisions. The custom sort software is designed to help producers sort and rank their animals based on the traits that are most important to them. The second application is benchmark software. This software is designed to help producers determine where their herd's genetics compare with others within their respective breed or the nearly half million cattle in the IGENITY database. As a result, producers will be able to sort through the data and select the animals that will benefit their operation the most.

Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) continues to cost the cattle industry more than $50 million a year. That's why Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Extension, Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health and Pfizer Animal Health are partnering to design a BVD eradication program for Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

"BVD significantly impacts cattle health, welfare and economic productivity across all segments of the industry," says Dan Grooms, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "With Pfizer Animal Health's technical support and funding, we are developing a five-year voluntary producer program that identifies, prevents and hopefully will eliminate BVD in Michigan's Upper Peninsula."

Y-Tex's new XP 820 insecticide cattle ear tag is a slow-release ear tag for cattle that is the first-ever tag to contain abamectin, which is a highly active macrocyclic lactone that has never been used before on cattle in the U.S. The tag is particularly effective against horn flies, including strains resistant to synthetic pyrethroid and organophosphate insecticides. It is also effective against ticks. The tags are expected to be available in spring 2009 for about $4.50 (for two tags).

By implementing strong business practices today with the knowledge that these practices will improve their bottom line, producers will build a strong future for generations to come.

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