Vaccine Handling Quiz, In Season BSE, Top Items to Check In Season for Successful Breeding, Predicting/Monitoring Weather, In the News

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

2:30 Vaccine Handling Quiz

12:10 In Season BSE

18:10 Top Items to Check In Season for Successful Breeding

19:15 Predicting/Monitoring Weather

23:50 In the News

CattleTrace: Callahan Grund – cgrund@uscattletrace.org

Beef Improvement Federation

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, please go give us a rating!

Reassessing Ruminant Methane Contribution

The environmental impact of livestock production, especially ruminants, has received a lot of attention in both the scientific community and popular media. One of the most discussed aspects of ruminants’ environmental impact is the production of the greenhouse gas, methane. Methane is produced as a natural byproduct of fermentation in the ruminant stomach during the process of feed digestion. The production of methane is not a man-made process and occurs naturally in all wild and domestic ruminant animals.

Wild ruminants in North America include deer, moose, elk, big horn sheep, antelope and bison with bison having the largest population. Estimates of the bison population prior to European settlement of North America varies greatly ranging from 21 to 88 million. And estimates of the total wild ruminant population prior to settlement ranges from 83 to 133 million. Due to lots of factors chief among them the growth in human population, the wild ruminant population has decreased to 30.5 million today and have been replaced by 90 million domestic ruminants.

Do domestic ruminants produce more methane than wild ruminants? Methane emissions factors for bison are similar to that of domestic cattle when fed the same diet, and both are greater than deer and elk. However, diets of wild and domestic ruminants are not necessarily similar. Diets of domestic ruminants are managed by humans and are typically of greater nutritive value than wild ruminants consume, especially during the winter months when vegetation is dormant.

Attempting to account for differences in methane emissions from wild and domestic ruminants, recent research compared the amount of methane from wild ruminants prior to European settlement of North America and current wild and domestic ruminant populations (Figure 1). Due to the wide variation in estimates of bison population, results were computed for low, medium and high bison populations. Based on these data, the amount of methane from domestic ruminants contributing to the increase in global atmospheric methane concentration is less than 100% because a fraction of that methane is replacing naturally produced methane from pre-settlement wild ruminant populations. Doing the math, the proportion of methane emissions from domestic ruminants in North America that is contributing to atmospheric methane concentrations ranges from 50 to -19% depending upon the pre-settlement bison population with an average of 35%.

Several feed additives have been investigated for their ability to reduce enteric methane emissions from domestic ruminants; the most effective include methane inhibitors, electron acceptors, hydrogen sinks, and plant extracts. These feed additives can reduce enteric methane emissions from 10 to 50% depending upon domestic ruminant species and diet, indicating that implementation could mitigate the 35% of domestic ruminant methane emissions that is new to North America since the European settlement. Although most of these feed additives have adverse effects that may hinder their use, one, 3-nitrooxyproponal, reduces methane emissions without negatively affecting animal performance and is in the process of commercialization. 3-nitrooxypropanol also shifts rumen VFA profile toward higher proportions of propionate making the ruminant animal more feed efficient, which is very similar to another feed additive, monensin, which has been widely adopted in ruminant livestock production. Thus, the use of 3-nitrooxypropanol looks very attractive for producers to economically include in livestock rations and could significantly mitigate enteric methane emissions from domestic ruminants.

In conclusion, the extent of domestic ruminants’ contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is not as great as once thought, although livestock production has more environmental impact than methane alone. It appears that we are on the verge of balancing the methane scale as far as domestic ruminant emissions are concerned.

Estimated methane emissions from wild ruminants prior to European settlement of North American Continent based on 3 estimates of the American bison herd (30, 50 and 75 million bison) compared with methane emissions from current population of wild and domestic ruminants. Adapted from Hristov, 2012

Dustin Questions, Supply Chain Disruption, Spring Processing of Calves, Top Considerations for Processing Calves, Listener Questions

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

3:30 Dustin Questions

8:30 Supply Chain Disruption

17:00 Spring Processing of Calves

22:40 Top Considerations for Processing Calves

23:10 Listener Question

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, please go give us a rating!

Calving Timing, Optimizing Cow Size, Tips for Determining Optimum Cow Size in Your Operation, Burning Management, Listener Question

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

1:30 Calving Timing

11:00 Optimizing Cow Size

19:19 Tips for Determining Optimum Cow Size in Your Operation

20:17 Burning Management

26:05 Listener Question

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, please go give us a rating!

Record Keeping

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD
Beef Cattle Institute
Kansas State University

Because cow-calf operations characteristically have high operating costs and deal with fluctuating input and sale prices, ranches typically operate within a narrow profit margin. However, there are great differences between ranches in their overall profitability as defined by the difference between prices received and operating costs. In order to maintain a profitable ranching operation, producers must continually look to improve herd efficiency through increasing the value of animals sold and/or decreasing the cost of production. The use of records is essential to identify sources of inefficient production so that management changes can be implemented, and then to track the effects of management decisions on production efficiency. In addition, the trend toward “identity preservation”, and “process verification” has led to new opportunities for those producers that can document production practices as well as growth efficiency and carcass quality after cattle leave the ranch.

Veterinarians who work with beef cattle producers often desire records to assist in the assessment of production efficiency, to help in the investigation of disease outbreaks, and as a component of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA). Different veterinarians have preferences for different types of records and record-keeping systems, but all would agree that having accurate information about the herd has many valuable uses.

Systems for gathering data for records are numerous and varied. These systems can collect data on either the whole herd or on individual animals. The simplest form of record gathering is head counts for the purpose of keeping accurate inventories. The next level of record gathering is whole herd data that includes percent calf crop, percent pregnant, average sale (weaning) weights, etc. and this type of record gathering is adequate to get a picture of overall herd performance. The next level of record keeping involves individual animal performance records which provide the best information for identifying problems and possible solutions, however, this type of system requires a greater commitment in time and expense.

From a record-keeping standpoint, the needs of cow-calf ranches differ from other livestock operations such as dairies, feedlots, and swine or poultry operations in that cow-calf ranches only collect usable information at a few specific times of the year such as at preg-check, weaning, pasture turn-out, or at times that specific ranches handle their cattle. This is in contrast to other livestock production systems that hand-deliver feed on a daily basis, measure production on a daily (dairy) or at least weekly or monthly (swine or poultry) basis due to frequent marketing, and tend to have more animals so that treatment for disease is a frequent activity of herd management. Because of these differences, the relatively low amount and frequency of data collection in cow-calf herds allows ranchers to have very effective record keeping systems that are simpler than systems needed by other livestock production systems. In fact, a lot of important information can be captured on the ear tag or freeze brand (year of birth, sire breed, calving order – i.e. calved early or late in calving season) and paper or relatively simple computer programs can be used to keep and organize ranch production and health records. It is important to gather all the information that you will need to make decisions, but it is not necessary to set up record-keeping systems that collect information that is not used.

One area of record keeping that is valuable for cow-calf ranches and their veterinarians is information to measure reproductive efficiency. The information that is needed to identify opportunities for enhanced reproductive efficiency and to help diagnose reproductive inefficiency includes: accurate estimates of when cows become pregnant, cow characteristics such as age and breed, and breeding group information such as which bulls were in the breeding pasture, characteristics of the breeding bulls such as age and breed, the length of the breeding season, and a record of any events such as bull injury that occurred during the breeding season. Veterinarians can use this information to create graphs that show how many cows become pregnant each 21-day period of the breeding season, and can determine if specific ages, breeds, or breeding groups are not as reproductively efficient as the rest of the herd.

When veterinarians investigate disease outbreaks, information about which cattle got sick or died (age of cattle affected), what behavior the rancher saw that caused concern, the date an animal was first identified as sick or died, and which pasture or lot the sick animals were housed in prior to being identified can all be used to look for patterns in age, location, dam age, or other characteristics that help identify the events that led up to the disease problem. Any information about individual sick cattle or outbreaks of disease should be kept for several years so that if a similar problem reoccurs, accurate information is available.

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) involves several aspects of cattle management that directly affect the quality of the beef products sold to consumers as well as the health and welfare of the herd. Accurate documentation of all events that occur to an animal from the time of birth, through all of the production phases and on into the slaughter house is becoming the expected level of record-keeping.  Whenever a vaccine, dewormer, fly control, antibiotic or other product is administered to cattle, you should record the exact name of the product, the serial number of the product you purchased, the dose that was administered, and how the cattle were treated (i.e. by mouth, in the muscle, under the skin, etc.).

If you are considering a change in your record keeping system, it is important to develop a system that collects all the information that you need to make the management decisions that you are targeting; but in the simplest manner than accomplishes your goal. The output of any record keeping system should allow you to easily and accurately see the overall productivity of your herd as well as to use individual performance data to make management changes that improve overall efficiency.

Pre-harvest Pathogen Control, Future Trends in Food Safety, Top Future Trends in Food Safety, Listener Question

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

3:40 Pre-harvest Pathogen Control

12:15 Future Trends in Food Safety

24:00 Top Future Trends in Food Safety

25:00 Listener Question

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, please go give us a rating!