TRENDS IN WEANING WEIGHT
Researchers looked at four sets of data to assess weaning weight trends.
Results from Kansas Farm Management Association (KFMA, Kansas St. Univ.), Southwest Cow-Calf Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA, Texas A&M Univ.), Cow Herd Appraisal Performance (CHAPS, North Dakota St. Univ.), and FINBIN (Center for Farm Financial Management, Univ. of Minnesota): From 1991 through 2015, weaning or marketing weight did not significantly increase (averaging approximately 550 lb, except for KFMA which averaged increasing about 2 lb/year; that rate is similar to USDA-National Health Monitoring System surveys showing increase from 502 lb in 1992 to 530 lb in 2007.
Results from Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association: From 1983 to1998 weight increased from approximately 450 lb to 550 lb. However, weight has not increased since then.
Results from Superior Livestock Auction video sales: Data were divided into two locations.
North Central region included data (1176 sale lots) from Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Weight for growth-implanted calves (37% of lots) increased from approximately 550 lb in 1995 to 590 lb in 2006 with no additional increase to 2016. Non-implanted calves increased from 520 lb in 1995 to 550 lb in 2007 with no additional increase to 2016.
South Central region included data (351 sale lots) from Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Weight for growth-implanted calves (38% of lots) increased from approximately 530 lb in 1995 to 605 lb in 2016. Non-implanted calves increased from 495 lb in 1995 to 570 lb in 2016. Weight was more variable across years than in North Central data.
Results from Angus and Charolais breed associations: Data were analyzed of weights submitted to associations of bull calves. Angus increased from approximately 610 lb in 1995 to 660 in 2016. Charolais increased from 630 in 1995 to 675 in 2016. In both breeds, increases in later years were at a lower rate.
NOTE: Recent estimates indicate average mature beef cow weights in medium body condition in the U. S. have increased steadily from about 1050 lb in 1975 to 1350 lb today. It appears that cow weight has increased more than weaning weight. This indicates a decline in efficiency, at least for producers marketing at weaning. Producers maintaining ownership beyond weaning may be able to benefit from the higher postweaning genetic gain potential of their calves.
(App. Anim. Sci. 35:57: Oklahoma St. Univ., Auburn Univ., Kansas St. Univ.)
EFFECT OF ENERGY RESTRICTION OF ANGUS AND BRANGUS COWS ON EMBRYONIC DEVELOPMENT
Angus (AN) and Brangus (BN) donor cows were artificially inseminated with female sex-sorted semen to produce AN or BN embryos. AN and BN recipient cows received either AN or BN embryos and were maintained on diets to meet either 100% (M) of daily energy maintenance requirement or restricted to 70% (R) of requirement. This resulted in eight groups:
Energy restricted Angus recipients had higher pregnancy failure. Restricted recipients of both breeds that received Angus embryos had higher pregnancy failure than those receiving Brangus embryos. These results indicate females with some Bos indicus influence may experience less detrimental effects under marginal nutritional conditions. NOTE: It could be speculated perhaps that Bos indicus cattle evolved over centuries under poorer conditions than Bos taurus and thus became better suited over time to less favorable nutritional environments.
(J. Animal Sci. 97:1645. Texas A&M Univ., Univ. of Florida, Texas Tech Univ., Virginia Tech Univ.)
REMEMBER PINK SLIME?
Lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is produced through a high-speed centrifuge process where fat is separated from beef trimmings. It is typically blended with other trim into ground beef. LFTB has been around for about 25 years and has long been approved by USDA. In March, 2012, ABC News had a report featuring a former USDA employee calling LFTB “pink slime”. Activists quickly picked up on this and, among other things, demanded it be barred from school lunches. At the time of the report it was estimated that about 70% of marketed ground beef contained some LFTB. One year later that estimate was only 5%.
Because of public outrage over “pink slime”, a large producer of LFTB, Beef Products Inc., soon had to suspend operations at three of its plants. BPI sued ABC and got an out-of-court settlement for damages in June, 2017. Recently, USDA decided that, while it still recognizes LFTB as a category, the BPI product can be labeled simply “Ground Beef”.
(TCFA Newsletter, 3/1/19, and several media sources)
EFFECT OF MARBLING AND COOKING DEGREE ON CONSUMER ACCEPTABILITY
Strip loins were obtained of USDA Prime, Top Choice (upper 2/3), Low Choice (lower 1/3), and Select grades. Loins were aged for 21 days in vacuum packages at 39.2° F. After aging, loins were cut into 1-inch thick steaks and grilled to internal temperatures of
130° F. (Very Rare),
140° F. (Rare),
145° F. (Medium Rare),
160° F. (Medium),
170° F. (Well Done),
or 180° F. (Very Well Done).
Consumers evaluated samples for juiciness, tenderness, flavor, and overall like. Evaluations for all four attributes generally decreased from Prime down to Select, except there was no significant difference in any trait between Top Choice and Low Choice. (Of note is the fact that Top Choice is eligible for many branded beef programs but Low Choice is not.)
For juiciness, rating generally declined from Very Rare down to Select. For tenderness, there was no difference among Very Rare, Rare, and Medium which ranked above the three higher degrees of cooking. Medium ranked above Well Done which was above Very Well Done. For flavor and overall like, there was no difference among Very Rare, Rare, Medium Rare, or Medium; Well Done was above Very Well Done for flavor but not overall like.
Juiciness when cooked Very Rare did not differ among grades. Select was lower when cooked Rare or Medium. At Well Done cooking, Prime was above only Well Done and Very Well Done. When cooked Medium or rarer, juiciness acceptability was above 85% for all grades except Select. Prime was above 80% for all levels of cooking. Other grades dropped to 65-75% when cooked longer than Medium. In short, if you like your steak grilled longer than Medium, you’ll be more satisfied with juiciness of Prime grade. And for all four taste traits, in general you’ll be less pleased with Select and most pleased with Prime.
(Kansas St. Univ. Cattlemen’s Day 2018, Article 19)
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF BEEF CATTLE PRODUCTION IN THE U. S.
A study was conducted of farms, ranches, and feedlots in the seven regions throughout the U. S. to determine practices and characteristics of cattle production. The purpose was to establish benchmarks of environmental impacts and to quantify resource use and emissions for all production systems, including traditional beef breeds and cull dairy animals. Some conclusions were:
– beef cattle production produced 3.3% of all U. S. greenhouse gas emissions;
– fossil energy used (in fuel, etc.) accounted for less than 1% of national total;
– because the majority of diets in the total beef production cycle comes from grass and other forages, grain consumption to produce beef is only 2.6 lb grain per lb beef, comparable to pork and poultry;
– operations in the Northwest and Southern Plains used more water, due to irrigation to produce feed.
Studies are in progress to assess energy use and emissions from downstream functions such as packing, processing, distribution, marketing, consumption, and waste handling.
(Agr. Systems 169:1; USDA, NCBA, Univ. of Arkansas)
GRASSFED BEEF CONFERENCE
The annual Grass-fed Beef Conference organized by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is scheduled May 30-31, 2019, on the campus of Texas A&M University. Topics to be discussed include:
– Understanding niche markets: What really constitutes natural, grass-fed and organic beef production;
– Forage-based nutrition for cattle: The fundamentals of growing forage in Texas;
– Bridging nutritional gaps in Texas due to deficiencies in forage quality or quantity;
– Managing pastures for improved cattle performance;
– Cattle types suited for grass-fed beef;
– Preventative herd health: Managing the health of cattle targeted for niche markets;
– Carcass fabrication demonstration;
– Consumers and their expectations;
– A Taste of Texas Beef: Marketing a unique product.
There will be a panel of producers to discuss developing marketing opportunities for grass-fed beef. The panel will feature Don Davis, a New Mexico grass-fed producer and current president of the American Grassfed Alliance; David and Kim Yates of Angelina All Natural Beef in Canton, TX; and Joe Dowling, KD Bar Beef and KD Bar Cattle Company of Caldwell, TX.
Registration is $275 through May 15 and $300 after. On-site registration is $325. To register online, visithttps://agriliferegister.tamu.eduand enter keyword “grassfed” or call 979-845-2604.
BQA TIP-OF-THE-MONTH: DEWORMING
Deworming is important to maintain cattle health and performance. Timing and frequency of treatment will vary depending on geographic location, rainfall, stocking rate, age of the animal, and persistent activity of the product used. Producers in the southern United States in areas with higher rainfall and higher stocking rates may need to deworm twice a year (late-May or June and again November or December). Only one treatment may be needed in areas with 15-25 inches of rainfall and moderate stocking rates. Routine deworming might not be needed in areas with low rainfall and low stocking rates.
(From Jason Banta, Ph. D., firstname.lastname@example.org, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator)