Beef Cattle Browsing – Vol. 23 No. 5

How widespread are tariffs on U. S. beef? The U. S. Meat Export Federation lists tariffs imposed on U. S. beef by 53 countries. (The European Union, with 28 members, is considered as one country in the USMEF report.) Of those 53 countries, 17 do not impose tariffs on U. S. beef, in some cases due to mutual free trade agreements. There are 36 countries that impose tariffs; 6 of those do not exact a tariff on U. S. Choice or Prime grades, largely because the country does not produce much product of that quality so it does not compete with their domestic product. Tariffs range from as low as 2% (Honduras) to 50% (Thailand). However, some countries have triggering quota levels, based on total weight of product imported, above which rates can be considerably higher. Some tariffs have increased in recent months with retaliatory responses to U. S. actions on trade; for instance, on July 6 China increased its tariff from 12% to 37%. Time will tell what if any changes happen on tariffs, and how U. S. producers will be affected.


A study was conducted to determine prevalence of impaired mobility in cattle immediately before slaughter. A total of 65,600 finished cattle was evaluated at six commercial processing facilities by a veterinarian. Cattle were scored for mobility where: 1 = normal mobility; 2 = minor stiffness, short stride; 3 = obvious stiffness, difficulty taking steps and 4 = extremely reluctant to move even when encouraged by a handler. Scores were 1 = 97.02%, 2 = 2.69%, 3 = 0.27%, 4 = 0.01%. For scores > 1, causes of mobility problems included lameness, poor conformation, laminitis, fatigued cattle syndrome, and general stiffness. The authors concluded that “prevalence of cattle displaying abnormal mobility at slaughter is low and caused by several factors”.

(Trans. Anim. Sci. 2:241; Kansas St. Univ.)

Previous research indicated administration of a growth hormone, bovine somatropin (bST), had some effect on follicular development. A study was conducted to assess possible effects of bST in a timed artificial insemination program. A total of 414 Angus-based heifers at four locations in two states was included in the study. All heifers were subjected to the 7-day CO-Synch + CIDR protocol. Across locations, 191 of the heifers received 650 mg bST nine days before timed AI; 223 of the heifers did not receive bST. After no less than 10 days post AI all heifers were exposed to bulls.

There were no significant differences in follicle diameter at two days before or day of timed AI nor in embryo/fetal size. Pregnancy rates to timed AI were significantly lower for bST treated (29.9% vs. 42.5% for non-treated). However, final pregnancy rate at the end of breeding season did not significantly differ.

(J. Animal Sci. 96:1894; Texas A&M Univ., Univ. of Florida, Virginia Tech. Univ.)

When pasture is scarce and feed is expensive, early weaning is sometimes suggested to minimize nutrient needs of dams, particularly first-calf heifers. Over two years, calves on 90 first calf heifers were either weaned early (WE, avg. age 130 days) or left on dams until weaned traditionally (WT) at average age of 226 days. All cows were then limit fed to meet maintenance requirements. Calves had ad lib access to creep feed but not to dam’s feed.

After the WE date, calf ADG to weaning was significantly higher for WT. WE calves gained more efficiently but efficiency was higher for WT for the total of a calf and cow unit. There were no significant differences in maintenance energy requirements for WE and WT dams.

(J. Anim. Sci. 96. Suppl. 1: p.13; Oklahoma St. Univ.)

The non-profit, non-partisan, Pew Research Center surveyed attitudes on genetic engineering. Those polled were asked to express either “taking technology too far” or “appropriate use of technology” for use in five areas as stated below, with percentages of responses in parentheses:

  • In mosquitoes to prevent spread of disease by limiting their reproduction (70% appropriate use, 29% too far);
  • In animals to grow organs/tissues for humans needing a transplant (57% appropriate use, 41% too far);
  • In animals to increase protein production leading to more nutritious meat (43% appropriate use, 55% too far);
  • In a closely related species to bring back an extinct animal (32 % appropriate use, 67% too far);
  • In aquarium fish to cause them to glow (21% appropriate use, 77% too far).

For all five areas:

  • a higher percentage of men than women said a use is appropriate;
  • as level of scientific knowledge increased more responded a use is appropriate;
  • as level of religiosity increased more responded a use is too far.

As might be expected, those opposed to use of animals for research were more likely to indicate a particular use for genetic engineering is taking technology too far. Of those indicating a use is too far, the most frequent reasons were, “Messing with nature and the natural balance of things” or “Messing with God’s plan”. For the one question directly affecting meat animal production the responses were close to being evenly divided.

(Pew Research Center, Aug. 2018. “Most Americans Accept Genetic Engineering of Animals That Benefits Human Health, but Many Oppose Other Uses”.)

A conference was held recently in Ruidoso, N. M, on Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle. Dr. Dave Patterson, Univ. of Missouri, summarized current thinking on use of estrous synchronization for artificial insemination. Some of his key points were:

  • a practical program includes a protocol easy to implement, minimal animal handling through the chute, and result in highly synchronized and fertile estrus and ovulation;
  • heifers must be physiologically ready for synchronization which he advised be determined by evaluating age, pelvic measurements, and reproductive score;
  • mature cows should be in Body Condition Score (BCS) 5 or higher and at least 50 days post calving at AI;
  • protocols include a progestin administered by feeding melangestrol acetate (MGA) for use in heifers or progesterone administered through a controlled internal drug release (CIDR®) device;
  • using MGA in feed requires accurate levels of consumption;
  • the CIDR protocol shows some advantage in heat expression;
  • if using the CO-Synch + CIDR protocol with fixed-time AI (FTAI), more cows exhibit estrous with FTAI at 66 hours rather than 54 hours after CIDR removal and administration of prostaglandin;
  • 5-day CO-Synch + CIDR has a slight advantage over 7-day but requires more labor and treatment cost.

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Recent regulations have affected the use of antibiotics for reducing liver abscesses in finishing cattle on high-concentrate rations. Research was conducted to evaluate the effect of some antioxidants on incidence of liver abscesses.

A group of 392 yearling crossbred heifers (which were previously on a growing study) initially averaging 1058 lb were fed for 94 days on a ration of 60% steam-flaked corn and 30% wet corn gluten feed. Heifers were fed a control ration (CTRL) containing 22 IU/kg alpha-tocopherol acetate or an antioxidant ration (AOX) containing 220 IU/kg alpha-tocopherol acetate and 550 mg/kg crystalline ascorbic acid.

Finishing at about 1325 lb live weight, there were no statistically significant differences in ADG. Feed consumption tended to be slightly lower and efficiency of gain slightly higher for AOX. Carcass characteristics did not significantly differ except that CTRL were somewhat leaner, with more Yield Grade 1 and fewer Yield Grade 3. Overall incidence of liver abscess was 25% and did not significantly differ between the two treatments. A review of research studies reported a range of 12% to 32% incidence..

(J. Animal Sci. 96: Kansas St. Univ.)

Hay testing is important to determine what if any supplementation is needed. Hay quality can vary tremendously so each load or cutting should be tested. Use a hay probe to collect samples from approximately 10% of the bales from each cutting. At minimum, hay should be tested for content of TDN (total digestible nutrients) and CP (crude protein). The appropriate tests can change depending on hay species, nitrate concerns, or if the hay was baled too wet. So, before sending samples to the lab, visit with a nutritionist for lab recommendations and the appropriate tests for your hay sample.

(From Jason Banta, Ph. D., , Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator)


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