Early on as I entered into my Feed Industry career following a number of positions in the University Extension Service, I had the opportunity to participate in some Dealer focus group sessions. We were evaluating what they and their customers valued in non-confined Beef cattle supplement programs and primarily cow herd supplements. As we talked through what was available on the market, one concern that was mentioned has stuck with me over the years and is in regard to the packaging or containers used in free-choice or self-fed supplements.
Impact of FDA’s Plan to Phase Out Antibiotic Growth Promotion Use in Animal Production
Part of my “casual” reading this week was the FDA Guidance For Industry (GFI) #213, which was released on December 11, 2013. This GFI outlines the voluntary 3 year plan to phase out the feeding of antimicrobials for growth promotion and increased feed efficiency in animal production while maintaining the use of antimicrobials for the prevention and treatment of disease. The other component of this plan is to increase veterinary oversight using the Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD).
A current buzz word in Agriculture is Precision. In crop farming it is a way to highlight the fact a new technology is being applied to a process; such as satellite linked Precision Planting and Precision Crop Nutrient Management. In animal nutrition, we also like to look for the newest thing or magic bullet. I am all for innovation and staying current with technology, but some proven methods should not be overlooked in the zeal to be new. This Precision Nutrient Delivery phrase may help some people understand and accept how low moisture block self-fed supplements like Brigade® and several of the Dairy CRYSTALYX® formulas such as Dry Cow™ Formula, Close-Up™ Formula and Transition Stress™ Formula work; even with modern ration balancing technologies.
When considering mineral supplementation, one of the more costly nutrients is phosphorus. One may be tempted to skimp on the phosphorus level in a mineral, thinking that forages will make up for it. That can be a costly decision when you consider that phosphorus has a significant role in reproductive efficiency and growth and it’s the most prevalent mineral deficiency in grazing livestock.
My last blog dealt with heat stress and dairy cattle. Heat stress will impact the beef cow and growing cattle. The most obvious negative impact is when 1000 pound fat cattle start dropping in the feed lot. However, reproductive and immune function will be can be diminished due to heat stress. Now is the time to prepare for management and nutrition changes that will help our beef cattle handle the heat.
Warmer weather is a welcome relief from the long winter and a cooler than normal spring in many areas of the country. In parts of the Midwest, we experienced early May snows followed within 2 week by summer like temperatures. Most people welcome the return to the 70s or 80s; however cattle and especially dairy cattle prefer the cooler temperatures. Now is the time to prepare for management and nutrition changes that will help our cattle handle the heat. I will address heat stress in dairy cattle in this week’s blog and then address some unique aspects of the impact of heat stress on beef cattle next week.
Being ‘green’ is all the rage now. Electric cars, canvas grocery bags and the local food movement all make people feel better about how they live. Amanda Radke, writer for Beef Magazine, points out that beef production has been green for a long while. Her recent editorial has inspired my blog for the week of Earth Day.
For me, College NCAA Basketball is one thing that makes it possible to get through March and April. This year has been especially fun. Who knew what would happen. A number 11, three 12s, a 13, a 14 and a 15 all won. The Final Four had only one number 1 seed. How did these lower ranked teams win? They played the whole game. Many games went to the wire with teams fighting to the end.
Drought followed by Grass Tetany. Sound like a contradiction? It can happen, especially when pastures were grazed heavily during a drought and /or during dormancy. Spring growing conditions, combined with some moisture on relatively “denuded” pasture ground, means the only forage that’s available to grazing cattle is the lush fast growing new grass. In ideal grazing conditions, there would normally be some old growth or residual forage that gets grazed along with new grass at turnout. This helps dilute or minimize the amount of new grass being consumed; the new grass which poses the greatest risk to magnesium deficiency or Grass Tetany.
For many of us that have been around cattle the biggest risk is becoming complacent and not putting safety first. Agriculture is a dangerous occupation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and The Center for Disease Control regularly collect injury and death rate information and the numbers are alarming. From 2003 to 2007, there were on average 583 agriculture related deaths per year. In 2011 agriculture had 557 deaths. Transportation and construction had more deaths, but agriculture had the highest death rate at 24.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. As the graphs below indicate, farming is the most dangerous occupation compared to other industries.