Pork producer Doug Wolf of Lancaster, Wisconsin is the president of the National Pork Producers Council. On the last day of World Pork Expo, we visited with Wolf about this year’s Expo, feed availability concerns, the possibility of feeding higher percentages of distillers grains to hogs, and trade issues.
Management intensive grazing for milk production is gaining popularity among dairy producers. Tony Rickard, a University of Missouri dairy specialist in southwest Missouri, is one of the organizers of the National Dairy Grazing conference to be held in July in Springfield, Missouri and he tells Brownfield why it’s becoming so popular.
Dairy producers are invited to the Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference held June eighth through ninth in Iowa.
Held at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, the conference will address the latest research information on Dairy industry issues. The conference is put on by Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa extension agencies.
Topics for the two-day conference include feeding strategies to reduce heat stress, forage rations, robotic milkers and precision feeding. Speakers include representatives from Cornell University, University of Wisconsin, University of Missouri and the University of Minnesota.
A $14 Million dollar USDA grant for genetic beef cattle research is going to the University of Missouri and Texas A&M to tackle two of the costliest problems in feedlots: feed inefficiency and Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD).
Dr. Jerry Taylor is head of animal genomics at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR).
“These are both enormously important areas to try to tackle to get some of the costs out of the production system,” says Taylor.
Using the latest tools in genetic mapping his team will identify how genetic differences affect feed intake and efficiency studying up to 8-thousand cattle of numerous breeds.
Taylor says, “We need to make this technology work regardless of the breed origin of the animal.”
The Texas A&M team will head up the BRD research.
“We believe that both of these grants WILL result in very significant translation of technology to the industry within the next five years,” says Taylor, “And that we will see direct, tangible benefits to the industry in that time frame.”
Roger Beachy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, NIFA, made the announcement at the University of Missouri beef research and teaching farm south of Columbia, Missouri, and was joined by Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, Dr. Taylor and other MU CAFNR and other university leaders.
The high price of corn has the livestock sector considering just how to deal with feed costs. A University of Illinois animal scientist strongly suggests dairy farmers keep their cows on full rations.
As fed cattle prices have soared to record levels in recent weeks, so has the level of volatility in the cattle feeding business.
Cattle feeder Kent Pruismann of Rock Valley, Iowa says the “fear factor” is much greater with cattle prices and input costs at current levels.
“Overnight we can have a huge move in our commodity markets because of a lot of outside influences,” says Pruismann, “and one of them being a lot of hedge fund money coming into this market. I mean it can move—when they change their mind—our markets move considerably in a 24-hour period.
Pruismann says he’s spending more time on risk management.
“I’ve done a lot more hedging on the Chicago Board of Trade for input costs—and on the Chicago Merc as far as locking in a price on our cattle,” he says.
And that requires a banker who also understands risk management, “because sometimes our margin requirements can be substantial as we take a position in this market and it moves against us.”
While he’s optimistic about the future, Pruismann says he’s also being cautious.
“We are offered (feeder) cattle for delivery this fall that we need to make a decision on—if that’s something we want to do—and the prices are very, very high,” he says, “and so, personally, I sit making the determination if there is more upside potential—and I’m very cautious at this point because, in my opinion, there’s a lot more downside risk than upside potential.”
Pruismann owns a three-thousand head feedlot in northwest Iowa.
Dairy farmers have been tightening their belts for so long, there’s not much belt left to tighten. At the recent I-29 Dairy Conference in Sioux Falls, we visited with Su Sybesma of Dutch Made Dairy, Platte, South Dakota, about some of the things they are doing to increase efficiency in their dairy operation. And University of Minnesota dairy educator Jim Paulson gave us his thoughts on using less corn in dairy feed rations.
Livestock producers are understandably edgy about the supply of corn and the price of corn in 2011. At the recent Cattle Industry Convention in Denver, CattleFax market analyst Brett Stuart presented CattleFax’s outlook for corn prices. Stuart says they expect to see the corn market reach its highs in late spring and early summer—and that they are expecting a four-million acre increase in corn acres in 2011.
As corn prices have continued to climb, some Midwest dairies have adjusted their feed rations to use less corn—in some cases, cutting five to ten percent of the grain they feed. But University of Minnesota dairy educator Jim Paulson says that may not make good economic sense.
“If the price of feed is 10 to 11 cents per pound of dry matter—and then milk is going to be 18 cents per pound of milk—we want to be conscious of the fact that we don’t want to lose two to three pounds of milk just trying to save a pound of feed,” Paulson says. “Three pounds of milk—two pounds of milk—is worth 35 to 50 cents, while we’re trying to save a dime. That may not be good economics.”
Paulson says distiller grains have helped to ease some of the pressure of higher corn prices.
Paulson spoke to Brownfield at the I-29 Dairy Conference in Sioux Falls.
Novus ruminant technical manager Dr. Dennis Nuzback says, when considering mineral sources, bioavailability is extremely important. He explains that chelated trace minerals, in comparison to inorganic trace minerals, have much higher absorption rates within animals. More minerals in means more minerals out—feeding high levels of inorganic minerals means that a larger portion of minerals consumed enter the environment by way of excretion, creating pollution. Dr. Nuzback says Novus’ mineral technology has a high absorption rate and offers solutions to farmers to improve animal health and productivity, while reducing the impact of their operations on the environment.