Page 1

December 1, 2011

Love it when a plan comes together GE T T I N G D OWN TO T H E B U SINESS OF MANAGI N G YO U R R A N C H PAG E 8 THINKING GLOBALLY


Beef future discussed at Korea-U.S. meeting.

Cattle prices reach 'unprecedented' levels.




Identify invading plants in imported hay. hay PAGE 12


Getting rid of parasites pays dividends. PAGE 17

The Land & Livestock Post ✪ December 1, 2011

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From the General Manager


By MICHAEL DOYLE McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court justices Calif ’s ban carved into California on the commercial slaughter of lame livestock Nov. 9, leaving the state law’s future in doubt. In a case that pits state vs. federal power, justices repeatedly suggested that California went too far with protecting animals already regulated by federal law and overseen by the U.S. Agriculture Department. “California should butt out,” Justice Antonin Scalia said at one point. Although more bluntly phrased than most, Scalia’s seeming skepticism toward California’s livestock-protection law appeared to be widely shared during the hourlong oral argument. No justice seemed sympathetic to

the state’s case, and some at times sounded downright impatient. “I don’t see how you can argue that you’re not trenching on the scope of the (federal) statute,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor told California’s deputy attorney general, Susan K. Smith. The California law in question prohibits the slaughter of non-ambulatory pigs, sheep, goats or cattle. These are animals that can’t walk, because of disease, injury or other causes. The state law further requires that the downed animals be euthanized. Federal law bans the slaughter of downed cattle, and the challenge heard Nov. 9 was to the state provision that covers swine. The Federal Meat Inspection Act specifies that a state can’t impose slaughterhouse protections “in addition to or

different” from the federal requirements. The National Meat Association, in challenging the state law, argues that the state violated this pre-emption rule. Alaska, Washington and 11 other states are siding publicly with California, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is siding with the meat association and the livestock industry. The question for the Supreme Court goes beyond slaughter rules to potentially include any state law that could clash with a federal statute. States want to be able to pass their own laws without being constantly upstaged by federal action. As protection, they want the court to sustain what they call the “longheld” policy that presumes state laws aren’t pre-empted unless the federal law explicitly says so.

December 1, 2011

The dry conditions have taken their toll, and it seems the only thing that will grow is exactly what you don’t want growing: weeds. We have a story from Texas AgriLife Extension identifying some of the more invasive species of weeds and some tips on how to deal with them. We have many other stories to keep you informed and help you into the next year. Thanks for reading. ’Til next time,

t’s Dec. 1, which means just 31 days until 2011 is over. I’m about as ready as the rest of you to kick that old man out the door and start anew with 2012. It’s been a tough year all around and, unfortunately, JESSE WRIGHT it’s not going to get better just by putting up a new calendar. This is a good time to start planning for the next year, and that is what we look at in our cover story. Everybody knows where they want to be, but it’s important to have a plan of how to get there, especially during this drought.

Court hears slaughter case

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U.S., Korea discuss beef at A&M symposium By BLAIR FANNIN Texas AgriLife Communications

• See KOREA/Page KOREA 6

December 1, 2011

24 Issues

ica, but there is room to grow, forecasting an increase of 22 percent for beef consumption by 2015 and 44 percent by 2030. “To meet increasing demand, we predict annual meat production growth increasing by 1.8 percent each year and annual meat consumption will grow by 3.4 percent annually. This production can’t meet demand, resulting in higher prices for animal protein.” Kim said large urban growth is expected in China, as cities gain 182 million consumers in the next 10 years. “There’s very large urban growth expected,” he said. “Rural China income is expected to be increasing by 8 percent every year. We have a huge number of potential consumers for high-quality beef.” Frank Rabe, who repre-

COLLEGE STATION — Producing high-quality beef and meeting future global demand was the focus of the fourth Korea-U.S. International Joint Symposium held recently at Texas A&M University. The two-day symposium featured a number of experts from the beef industry and abroad. “The beef industry is going to have to meet demands of a growing global population and expanding economies in the Asian markets,” said Stephen Smith, Texas AgriLife Research meat scientist and summit organizer. “This summit brought together several experts both domestically and internationally to discuss the future of breeding and production systems used to produce high-

quality beef,” Smith said. The symposium was held as part of a partnership between AgriLife Research and the Rural Development Administration-Republic of Korea National Institute of Animal Science. In 2010, the partners signed an agreement to extend a joint exchange in beef-production research, specific if ally examinific ing the healthful traits of oleic acid found in Hanwoo cattle of Korea. Presenters showed data indicating the Asian markets have great potential for more beef consumption and demand for U.S. beef. “We can predict some economic and population growth,” said Tae-Gyu Kim, director of research and technology of Cargill’s animal nutrition business in South Korea. “Total meat consumption per capita in Asia is a lot less than U.S. or Latin Amer-

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Texas AgriLife Resear Te Research ch photo by Blair Fannin

Craig Nessler Nessler,, T Texas exas AgriLife Research director, ector, said during a ector meeting with the Korean delegation, “The research that you are doing has a positive impact on the beef industry in Texas and Korea.”

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Texas AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin

Stephen Smith, Texas AgriLife Research meat scientist, receives a commemorative plaque from Won-Kyong Chang, director general of the Rural Development Administration-Republic of Korea National Institute of Animal Science, at the 4th Korea-U.S. International Beef Summit.

Korea From 5 sents JBS export sales, said the company can load 39,000 pounds of chilled container beef a day and ship to China. “We are exporting more beef every year,” Rabe said. “Higher beef prices are also changing the value of beef exports. In July 2011, we added $236 more per head as a result of higher cattle prices.” Rabe said, however, there is concern that if retail beef prices remain high for too long, it will lead to “demand erosion.” He also emphasized the importance of carcass

traceability in the international market. The summit included speakers from Korea, Japan and Brazil, as well as experts from U.S. companies such as Merck Animal Health and Elanco Animal Health, who shared the most recent industry innovations. Earlier in the week, Craig Nessler, director of AgriLife Research, and Smith met with the Korean delegation to discuss the merits of the joint beef project, its accomplishments and future goals. “The research that you are doing has a positive impact on the beef industry in Texas and

• See BEEF/Page BEEF 11

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Few farmers take out loans

PIERRE, S.D. — When farmers need to check honey prices so they can decide whether to sell, there’s been a report for that. And when catfish and sheep farmers want to check production in their industries, there’ve been reports for that, too. The U.S. Agriculture Department has kept tabs for decades on a wide range of

The agency is eliminating or reducing the frequency of 14 crop and livestock reports to save about $10 million in its $156 million budget. Farmers in those industries say they understand the need to save money, but the cuts will leave them guessing how much to produce and when to sell.

from the Agriculture Department over many years. Federal judge Paul Friedman approved the settlement late on Nov. 10. He said it will likely take about a year for neutral parties to review claims and then all of the settlements will be paid out at once. This is the second round of settlements in the 1999 case known as the Pigford case,

Judge OKs settlement WASHINGTON — A federal judge has given final approval to a $1.2 billion government settlement with black farmers who claim they were unfairly denied loans and other assistance

after the original plaintiff, North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford. The settlement is directed at farmers who were denied payments in the first round because they missed deadlines for filing. Congress passed the settlement last year.

— The Associated Press

December 1, 2011

USDA cutting some reports

agricultural industries that generate billions of dollars for the U.S. economy. But that’s about to change.

WICHITA, Kan. — Drought has withered grain across the Great Plains. Flooding drowned corn from Nebraska to Louisiana. And a tropical storm submerged Carolina tobacco fields and New Jersey blueberry bushes. One agriculture official describes this as a “monster” year for natural disasters — yet few farmers are taking advantage of a federal loan program aimed at helping them recover. An Associated Press review found that the Farm Service Agency made fewer than 300 emergency loans, totaling just $32.6 million, for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Some farmers say they aren’t taking out the disaster loans because recent high crop prices gave them enough money to bounce back. Others say there are better aid programs available — and interest rates on emergency loans are higher than for regular farm loans.

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The Land & Livestock Post ✪ December 1, 2011


Plan ahead

How to manage a ranch for success after drought By ROBERT FEARS Special to The Post


ost Texas producers continue to experience extreme drought that has forced severe herd reduction or liquidation. Those who still have cattle probably are facing pastures with limited or no grass, a scarcity of hay and extremely high feed prices. A big question is how long you can continue to feed your cattle. You don’t want to spend all of your cash reserves on feed and not have money to restock when the drought is over. In two different producer meetings in Franklin, Jason Cleere with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service stressed that a drought management plan is needed to help manage the ranch through this dry period. A ranch management plan is needed to provide management direction regardless of whether we are in a drought. We would never think of driving to an unknown location without a road map or GPS. The same principle applies to ranching. It is hard to reach our goals if we don’t know what they are and how to get there.

Mission statement and vision Stan Bevers, Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist, provided instructions on writing a management plan at the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course two years ago. He said to start with a mission statement that explains the overall purpose of the ranch. Many of you probably have asked yourselves why you are in the ranching business as you try to survive the drought. Your reasons will become a lot clearer if you put them on paper and as you write, additional thoughts probably will be generated. Bevers listed four options that might explain the purpose of a beef cattle operation: • Use cattle for the sole purpose of maintaining an agricultural land appraisal for property tax assessment. • Maintain the ranch as a hobby


• See PLAN/Page 9

Photo by Stuart Villanueva

It is not known when, but eventually the worst drought in Texas history will end. When it does, producers who have eliminated or reduced the size of their herd need to be ready to rebuild a

profitable operation. Taking steps now to evaluate your operation and determine future needs will go a long way toward making the rebuilding effort successful.

Stan Bevers’ outline for a situation analysis 1. General Statement of Overall Observations a. Rainfall during the year b. Overall market situation c. Any abnormal situations that the ranch had to face during the past year 2. Production Resources a. Pregnancy percentage b. Calving inter val c. Calving percentage d. Weaning weights e. Pounds weaned per exposed female 3. Natural Resources a. Past stocking rate b. Amount of feed and/or hay fed during the past year c. Salt and mineral program 4. Human Resources a. Number of employees

b. Their capabilities c. Their commitment to the plan 5. Machinery and Equipment Resources a. Repairs and maintenance costs during the past year b. Assessment of current condition c. Additional needs 6. Building and Improvement Resources a. Condition of fences b. Livestock watering resources c. Other needed improvements 7. Financial Situation and Performance a. Total expenses of the operation b. Net income from operations c. Total cost per breeding female d. Net income per breeding female e. Rate of return on the operations assets f. A breakdown of expenses by major categories

Plan From 8

tents and commit to its execution.

Situation analysis




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Once the mission statement and vision are finalized, establish a baseline by preparing an analysis of the current situation from which the ranch business will be moved forward. Bevers described a baseline as a starting point from which future performance will be measured. He further stated that a baseline should establish the current status of the ranch and include the past year’s performance. The situation analysis is written in a manner to provide direction for writing objectives and goals. 1. In an outline suggested by Bevers, the first part of the situation analysis is a general statement of overall observations during the past year, including rainfall, market situation and any abnormal occurrence the ranch had to face during the year. In your general statement you would want to list the number of months without rain and discuss the upward trends of the cattle market. These factors directly are affecting your profits and should be documented in relation to frequency of occurrence. 2. Production resources are the second part of the outline where performance of the cow herd is documented.

where making a profit is not important as long as it pays for itself. • Manage the ranch in a profitable manner to provide a good livelihood for the family. • Produce the best performing cattle in the state. After you are satisfied with your mission statement, then develop your vision. Bevers explained that a vision statement describes the ideal results on management plan execution and creates a mental picture of the ultimate target. Good vision statements describe results that will occur five to 10 years away — or maybe longer. Examples of vision statements are: • The vision is a ranch business with continued growth that is financially profitable and environmentally sound while providing a comfortable lifestyle for the family. • The vision is growing the ranch business through the profit of able marketing of qualiofit ty beef and proper care of the land so future generations will inherit a viable operation. Develop mission statement and visions with input from family members, employees and other stakeholders. For the management plan to be successful, all involved parties need to agree on its con-

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The Land & Livestock Post ✪ December 1, 2011


Analysis From 9 Production measurements, including pregnancy percentage, calving intervals, calving percentage, weaned calf percentage, weaning weights and pounds weaned per exposed female are calculated. If you are not keeping these types of records, you should start immediately because it is the only way cow herd performance can be accurately measured. 3. Bevers titled the third part of the outline as Natural Resources. Under this heading, stocking rate, amount of feed and/or hay fed during the year and the salt and mineral program are documented. This documentation can help the operator determine if there are too many cattle on the pastures for the amount of available forage

and the amount of hay and protein supplement on hand, as well as how long the existing feed supply will last. Remember that cattle need to be kept at a body condition score of at least 4 or 5 for a decent market value. 4. Human resources, the fourth part of the outline, is where an assessment is made of the number of people needed to make the operation successful and whether they are in place. Their capabilities and commitment are evaluated as well. Through this exercise, it is determined whether family members can replace some of the hired employees or whether an employee or family member should be relieved of a responsibility due to lack of capability or commitment. 5. Part five is an assessment of machinery and equipment resources. Repairs and maintenance costs during the past year

and current conditions of equipment are examined. This assessment may show money can be saved by replacing a piece of equipment and reducing repair costs. The machinery and equipment resource analysis also provides a means for determining whether the firsttime purchase of equipment (such as a front-end loader, herbicide sprayer or an arc welder) would make the operation more efficient. 6. Building and improvement resources, part six, is an evaluation of fence conditions, number and condition of barns and sheds, available pastures, livestock watering devices, weed and brush control programs and necessary pasture seeding. This is an evaluation of improvements that would pay for the investment through increased production and effi ef ciency. Evaluation of building and improvement resources pro-

vides information to use in planning for recovery after the drought and preparation for the next one. Needs that might be identified from these evaluations include: • Cross fence pastures to provide rotation opportunities for better forage utilization and conservation. • Add hay storage capacity. • Clean out tanks and ponds to increase water storage. • Control brush to release more grass. • Reseed pastures where insuffic ff ient forage exists for ffic re-establishment 7. The last part is the financial situation and performance analysis which includes total expenses of the operation, total cost per breeding female, rate of return on the operation’s assets and a breakdown of expenses by major categories. This is the part in which you calculate how

much it costs to feed each animal per day and the amount of assets available to cover these costs.

Objectives and goals A well-written situation analysis identifies the problem areas of a ranch operation and clarifies the needs. The mission statement gives the overall reasons for the ranch’s existence and the vision statement defines where you want to be long term. Using the information collected in the situation ob ctives are writanalysis, obje ten that support the mission and move the operation toward the vision. Objectives can be considered as primary goals and should be few in number for the management plan to be achievable. Also, objectives must be realistic and measurable — otherwise, there is no

• See Goals/Page Goals 11

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Texas AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin

Stephen Smith, Texas AgriLife Research meat scientist and summit organizer, ganizer said the Korea-U.S. International Beef Summit ganizer, "brought together several experts both domestically and internationally to discuss the future of breeding and production systems used to produce high-quality beef.” said. “More people could benefit from collaborations with other countries.” Consumers in Korea are interested in safety and highquality meat, said Won-Kyong Chang, director general of the Rural Development Administration-Republic of Korea National Institute of Animal

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Korea,” Nessler told the group. “It’s an opportunity for both to fit individual markets. There are many opportunities for marketing and exchange of materials.” The focus of research efforts have been producing high-quality beef and feeding of cattle. Smith said future work will focus on animal physiology and breeding traits to enhance production. Part of Smith’s research program has specifically involved studying the effects of oleic acid in cattle production. Smith and a graduate student have found there are healthful levels of oleic acid in brisket — a cut of beef used commonly among barbecue restaurants. “Everything that I’ve learned about oleic acid in the past few years is a result of my foreign travels,” Smith

way to know if and when they are accomplished. The next step is to establish annual goals for each objective. As with objectives, goals need to be realistic and measurable. At the Third Annual CenTex Beef Cattle Symposium held Oct. 28 in Belton, Ron Gill, livestock specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, presented obje ob ctives and goals for dealing with drought. Using his information, the following list of examples was developed. • Get the ranch back on a forage base within three years after the drought moderates or is over to reduce feed costs. • Restock to 75 percent of the projected carrying capacity based on available forage. This may not — and probably will not — be 75 percent of the original herd as forage recovery may be slow or limited due to previous grazing and weather stress. • Graze any excess forage with stocker cattle. This can be calves, yearlings or cows but need to be cattle that can be sold quickly when forage

availability declines. • Seed native forage in areas that need renovation when there is ample rainfall to establish a stand. This will preclude the need for annual purchases of fertilizer to apply on introduced forages. • Over the next four years, develop a rotational pasture system to provide rest and protection from grazing pressure and to facilitate recovery from the drought. • Solicit help from USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel in developing the grazing management plan. • Execute the plan once it is developed. A well-designed management plan clearly defines the current situation and provides concrete direction for moving the business forward. Management through a plan helps prevent constant directional changes and provides a measure of business performance. A ranch management plan is essential for surviving the drought.

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Weeding out invasive species of plants By KAY LEDBETTER Texas AgriLife Communications

A weed is simply a plant growing out of place or growing in a site where it is not desired, according to Barron Rector, Texas AgriLife Extension Service range specialist. Following this year’s drought, wildfires and tons of imported hay, there may be a lot more weeds for landowners to deal with, and some could be invasive species or even toxic, Rector said. Rector recently presented a webinar, “Invasive Plants of Texas Rangelands,” as a part of the AgriLife Extension ecosystem science and management department’s Texas Range Webinar Series. This webinar, as well as others in the series, can be accessed at naturalresourcewebinars.ta “The soundest way to control weeds is to prevent the invasion, which means we must understand the biology, limit the movement, understand the human behavior and actions that can cause the spread, and understand the pathways for its introduction,” he said. Some “weeds” may be a desirable plant in one location and a weed in another, Rector said. For instance, native weeds serve a role of protecting the soil surface after a disturbance, reducing raindrop impact and solar radiation, and providing some organic matter on the soil surface and below ground.

Natural disturbances


These native weedy plants depend on natural disturbances, such as grazing, fires, flooding, drought, mudslides, earthquakes, volcanoes and land development to spread and reproduce, he said. Foreign or exotic invasive plant species, however, can survive, reproduce and advance on the same types of soil disturbance and human management that produces native weed and brush problems. “Our major problem with land management today is our inability to recognize an invasive plant species and deal with it accordingly,”

Rector said. And following the recent inf influx of hay from other regions of the U.S. and even abroad, landowners should expect more invasive plants, he said. Invasive species of weeds can cause economic or environmental harm due to habitat degradation, displacement of native plants threatening the reduction of wildlife food resources, alterations to the ecosystem of a region or alterations and changes to natural waterways. “Invasive plants are those that have a tendency to spread and invade healthy landscapes ultimately causing some kind of negative impact,” Rector said. “Invasive plants are often best defined as plants that do not stay where they are planted.” Since 2008, portions of

• See WEEDS/Page WEEDS 13

Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kay Ledbetter

Hay imported from other regions of the U.S. could have seeds from invasive weeds hitchhiking along that will cause producers problems later. later Producers should familiarize themselves with the types of weeds common to the area where the hay was grown so they can better eliminate them.


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Weeds From 12

“This sets up a potential problem because interstate commerce of hay is not regulated for the most part. There’s no one at the state line to inspect the hay for foreign and invasive plants,”

Invasive species

He said there are 1,400 invasive species documented in the U.S. infecting an estimated 1 million acres, and that number will continue to increase 8-20 percent annually, requiring a destruction cost in U.S. estimated at $100 billion annually. Producers need to start learning now what plants they should be on the lookout for, Rector said. If the hay was purchased from Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, producers

should watch for an invasive plant called leafy spurge. If they purchased hay from Florida to Louisiana, that zone is known for the invasive tropical soda apples weed. Other plants of concern include Canada thistle, spotted knapweed, blessed milk thistle, Russian knapweed and yellow star thistle, he said. Because of their aggressiveness, these often will be the plants that come up on the disturbed areas. Not only will these invasive weeds keep landowners from producing valuable grass resources in the future, but they can take the place of native weeds that would have come up, such as broomweed, which provides seed that feeds birds such as quail. Rector said there are several things a landowner needs to do now to prevent problems later. “The first thing to do is be aware of what invasive plants occur in the area you bought the hay,” he said. “Know what they look like.”

Each state has an invasive plant website or every state can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s invasive and noxious weeds list at sDriver.

Be on the lookout

“Make sure you know what they look like and then be on the lookout for them, starting in March,” Rector said. “If they are a warm-season annual, they will be germinating then.” In general, annual weeds are treated with chemicals when the plant is 3-6 inches tall, he said. It is important to know what the plant looks like in the seedling, rosette and the early vegetative stages because that is when the chemicals and management practices are the cheapest. “By the time most weeds are flowering and setting seed, it is too late to use a

December 1, 2011

Potential problems

list of noxious and invasive plants. “We want to alert landowners who feed hay from another state that it could carry with it viable seed that could come up on their land,” Rector said. “It’s a Catch 22. We bought the emergency hay to feed and hold on to our herds, but there is the potential that we can introduce an unwanted plant that will cost more management dollars in the future trying to get rid of it.”

Texas have been in moderate to extreme drought, he said. This has had an important impact on forage production for livestock. In response to the drought, many livestock owners have opted not to sell their herds, but to buy hay that is available. “That hay is coming from Louisiana, Tennessee, Nevada, Florida, Nebraska, Kansas and other surrounding states,” Rector said. “Some individuals have even purchased hay from foreign countries, such as Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Canada.”

Rector said. Many landowners and livestock producers could be setting themselves up for weeds they’ve never seen and introduce potentially invasive plants.” Experience with this type situation goes back to the drought of the 1950s when hay and other feedstuffs transported from California to Texas are suspected of setting up the invasion of woolly distaff thistle, a native of Italy and the Mediterranean region, he said. Research has shown the seed of this plant may be viable in the soil for up to 19 years, Rector said. Today, because of the aggressiveness of this plant, it now grows in 47 of 254 Texas counties. A second example would be in the drought of 1994-2002, when hay delivered from Louisiana to Jasper County carried the first tropical soda apple to Texas, he said. The tropical soda apple is listed 94th on the federal noxious weed list, and woolly distaff thistle is on the Texas

The Land & Livestock Post


• See SPECIES/Page 15

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Texas AgriLife Extension Ser Service vice photo by Barron Rector

Special to The Post

Winter distaff thistle is one of the invasive plants producers should be looking for if they received hay from outside of Texas, according to Barron Rector, Rector Texas AgriLife Extension Service range specialist.

This clump of thistle seed heads were found by a rancher in Central Texas who had received hay from New York.

Species From 13 Tropical opical soda apple.

chemical to control most annual plants,” Rector said. Once landowners can iden-

tify the plant, they need to know the recommendations for management to reduce the impact or eliminate it from the land, he said. Rector said landowners can go to essmextension.tamu. edu/plants and there is a choice of plant identification

links that will help a landowner not only identify a plant, but also learn about its habitat, toxicity to livestock and management strategies. “Try to limit the areas where you feed the hay and not spread it all over your ranch. And then make sure

December 1, 2011

Tropical opical soda apple is an invasive plant species that could come in with imported hay from the southern U.S.

you continually go back and look at pastures where you fed hay in future years,” he said. “With the weather prognosis of continued drought, those seeds may sit in the soil for several years before they emerge,” Rector said. Charlie Neff


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Flowering distaff thistle. The Eagle

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President - Jim Wilson...................................................Ext. 4613 Publisher and Editor- Kelly Brown................................Ext. 4656 Advertising - Joanne Patranella .................................Ext. 4719 Advertising Sales/General Sales/Gener Manager Manag - Jesse Wright ........Ext. 4721 Fi Financial Director - Rod Armstrong..................................Ext. 4605 New Media Director - Mike Mik Albin ....................................Ext. 4663 Production Director - Mark Manning................................Ext. 4671 Director - Jack Perkins ..................................Ext. 4752 Cir Circulation Published by Bryan-College Station Communications, Inc., P.O. Box 3000, Bryan, Texas 77805. E-mail: All offices are located at 1729 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan, Texas 77802. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Eagle, P.O. Box 3000, Bryan, Texas 77805-3000 The Post is printed in part on recycled paper and is fully recyclable.

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Cattle prices soar to ‘unprecedented’ levels By ROBERT BURNS Texas AgriLife Li Extension Service Life

Fueled by declining beef production due to the drought and booming exports, fed-cattle prices soared to “unprecedented” levels, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert. Fed cattle prices were $127 per hundredweight the second week of November, said David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock economist. In comparison, they were $113 per hundredweight two months ago. “Fed-cattle prices” typically refers to the price of live cattle coming out of feedlots af r being fattened on afte rations consisting largely of grain. Last year at this time, the price per hundredweight was about $98, with an average of about $95 for 2010,

Anderson said. “The seasonal price pattern usually peaks in the springtime, but with another peak late in the year, and that’s exactly the kind of seasonal pattern we’ve seen this year,” Anderson said. “Prices were more than $120 for fed cattle in April, and now were back up over $120 again, after hitting a summertime low of about $104.” Though the seasonal upsand-downs are to be expected, the prices are being driven to unprecedented levels by several factors, he said. First, though the Texas corn crop was largely a failure due to the drought, the harvest was good in the corn belt, which cheapened feed, Anderson said. Another factor is increased demands in overseas markets. But the big factor is the drought, and the effect it had as livestock producers

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Though seasonal ups-and-downs are to be expected, fed-cattle prices are being driven to unprecedented levels by several factors this year, year said David Anderson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service livestock economist. were forced to cull herds aggressively, send calves to market early or, in many cases, liquidate entire herds

because of lack of grazing, hay or water – or a combination of all three, he said. “Earlier in the year, as we

really pushed large numbers of cattle through as the drought got worse and worse, we forced a lot of calves to market early, and we did see price declines across the board,” Anderson said. This means the calves that would have been normally held and sold in Texas and Oklahoma this fall are already long gone because they were moved out earlier in the summer, which makes supplies weak and drives prices up, he said. “If you had to sell a few months ago, that’s not much consolation, but I think it is a positive thing overall,” Anderson said. Information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricul-tural Drought Task Force website agrilife.tamu. edu/drought.

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normally. Between then and the late summer, the drought likely slowed or stopped reinfestation. One of the most damaging internal parasites, however, Ostertagia, has the ability to arrest its development and

wait in the lining of the digestive tract until conditions improve. If we get fall rains and late season pasture growth, these larvae will mature rapidly into egg-laying adults and can cause severe re-infestation before

December 1, 2011


Photo courtesy of

An adult Ostertagia ostertagi, about 1/2 inch long, and an early fourth-stage larva, about 1/16 inch long.

frost. Some products will kill the arrested larvae, and some will only control the active populations in the animal. Discuss appropriate treatment for your specific operation with your veterinarian. Egg counts to determine infestation levels followed by spot treatment may be prescribed, or de-worming the entire herd could be the most effective plan of action. It is easier to assess external parasite problems and to know when and how to control them. The life cycle of most fly pests requires moist manure and 10 to 14 days to develop from an egg to an adult. Although drought conditions are not conducive to normal development of fly populations, we still are seeing

As you manage the cow herd into the fall and through the winter, your primary focus should be on health and nutrition. These two areas of management determine reproductive performance, which is the number one factor that affects profitability. Assuming that an effective immunization program minimizes the probability of disease, nutrition is the primary factor that drives reproductive performance and profitability. Research shows that a minimum body condition score of 5 at calving and through the breeding season should be the objective for optimum reproductive performance. Calving below a body condition score of 5 drastically can reduce conception rates during the next breeding season. There are several things you can do to manage the nutrition of the herd going

forward. Weaning calves as soon as possible will decrease the quantity and quality of diet necessary to sustain a cow. Testing hay for nutritional value and nitrate levels will enable us to calculate least-cost feed supplementation and ensure that the hay is safe to feed. Another factor affecting the nutritional status and requirements of the herd is internal and external parasite infestation. Parasites increase an animal’s nutritional requirements because they get their share right off the top. The negative effects of parasites are magnified during the stress of drought. In a typical cycle of infestation, internal parasite larvae are ingested as cattle graze in normal pasture situations with adequate moisture. In the second half of 2011, we’ve not seen “normal” pasture conditions in a while, although we did have adequate rainfall in late spring and early summer for internal parasites to reproduce

The Land & Livestock Post


• See PARASITE /Page 19

Questions About Cattle Health?

Ask the Vet! Steve St ev Wi eve Wikse kse - Re Retir tired ed DVM DVM Large Animal Clinical Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University


Submit your questions to:

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December 1, 2011 âœŞ

The Land & Livestock Post


Results of the Buffalo Livestock Exchange’s Nov. 5 sale: Head: 1,603 Steers: 150-200 lbs., $135$185; 200-300 lbs., $135-$187; 300-400 lbs., $140-$172.50; 400-500 lbs., $135-$167.50; 500-600 lbs., $130-$152.50; 600-700 lbs., $125-$135; 700800 lbs., $120-$131. Heifers: 150-200 lbs., $125$160, 200-300 lbs., $125-$160, 300-400 lbs., $125-$175, 400500 lbs., $122-$145, 500-600 lbs., $120-$140, 600-700 lbs., $115-$137, 700-800 lbs., $105$123.

Parasite From 17 threshold levels of infestations of 100 to 200 flies per cow. Control is imperative since flies, ticks and lice infestations can consume more than a pint of blood per day and have as much negative effect on nutrient requirements as internal parasites. The parasite situation for each operation should be evaluated so the appropriate control program can be implemented. Parasite control will enhance the nutritional status of the herd. Nutrition drives reproductive performance, and reproductive performance drives the overall profprof itability of your operation.

Results of the Caldwell Livestock Commission’s Nov. 9 sale: Head: 625 Steers: 200-300 lbs., $145$180; 300-400 lbs., $150-$180; 400-500 lbs., $130-$160; 500600 lbs., $120-$160; 600-700 lbs., $105-$130; 700-800 lbs., $100-$115. Heifers: 200-300 lbs., $125$160; 300-400 lbs., $125-$170; 400-500 lbs., $120-$160; 500600 lbs., $120-$130; 600-700 lbs., $110-$125. Slaughter bulls: $55-$77. Slaughter cows: $30-$68. Stocker cows: $30-$68. Cow/calf pairs: $875-$1,000.

Groesbeck Results of the Groesbeck Auction & Livestock Co.’s Nov. 10 sale:

$136; 600-700 lbs., $110-$127. Slaughter bulls: $59.50-$72. Slaughter cows: $36.50-$71. Bred cows: $700-$850. Cow/calf pairs: $850-$925.

Navasota Results of the Navasota Livestock Auction Co.’s Nov. 6 sale: Head: 1,681 Steers: 150-300 lbs., $125$190; 300-400 lbs., $110-$175;

400-500 lbs., $110-$150; 500600 lbs, $110-$142.50; 600700 lbs., $105-$130. Heifers: 150-300 lbs., $120$170; 300-400 lbs., $115-$155; 400-500 lbs., $115-$131; 500600 lbs., $105-$127; 600-700 lbs., $105-$127. Slaughter bulls: $50-$77. Slaughter cows: $30-$65. Stocker cows: $575-$900. Cow/calf pairs: 575-$850.

— Special to The Post


December 1, 2011



Head: 1,196 Steers: 300-400 lbs., $150$178.50; 400-500 lbs., $140$163; 500-600 lbs., $125-$145; 600-700 lbs., $115-$140. Heifers: 300-400 lbs., $133$147; 400-500 lbs., $125-$142; 500-600 lbs., $118-$135; 600700 lbs., $108-$130. Slaughter bulls: 65-$73. Slaughter cows: $32-$66. Bred cows: $600-$1,000. Cow/calf pairs: $800-$1,000.

Results of the Brazos Valley Livestock Commission’s Nov. 8 sale: Head: 1,190 Steers: 200-300 lbs., $130$195; 300-400 lbs., $120-$180; 400-500 lbs., $110-$156; 500600 lbs., $109-$147.50; 600700 lbs., $102-$123; 700-800 lbs., $118-$127. Heifers: 200-300 lbs., $124$157.50; 300-400 lbs., $114$150; 400-500 lbs., $110-$137; 500-600 lbs., $110-$134; 600700 lbs., $100-$134; 700-800 lbs., $100-$114. Slaughter bulls: $64-$82. Slaughter cows: $30-$68. Bred cows: $425-$880. Cow/calf pairs: $750-$950.

Slaughter bulls: $60-$78.50. Slaughter cows: $35-$75.

The Land & Livestock Post


Results of the Milano Livestock Exchange’s Nov. 8 sale: Head: 703 Steers: 300-400 lbs., $132$175; 400-500 lbs., $130$162.50; 500-600 lbs., $121$147.50; 600-700 lbs., $117$137. Heifers: 300-400 lbs., $120$154; 400-500 lbs., $115$141.50; 500-600 lbs., $115-




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