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OSU Extension BEEF Team
BEEF Cattle questions may be directed to the OSU Extension BEEF Team through Stephen Boyles or Stan Smith, Editor
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Previous issues of the BEEF Cattle letter
Issue # 726
March 9, 2011
Glyphosate's Impact on Animal Health?? - William Shulaw DVM, Extension Veterinarian, Cattle and Sheep, The Ohio State University
The USDA's recent decision to approve Roundup Ready® alfalfa has rekindled the controversy over the use of genetically modified organisms in the food chain. A letter addressed to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak has been cited or reproduced on numerous web pages and blogs and has heightened the controversy. (such as at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/gmo-miscarriages accessed 3/8/11) The letter announces the discovery of a new pathogenic life form supposedly associated with Roundup Ready® corn or soybeans, or possibly glyphosate itself, and warns of potentially devastating consequences of this new pathogen on plant and animal health.
The letter describes this new life form as being previously unknown, a "micro-fungal-like organism" having the size of a medium-sized virus, and present in "high concentrations" in Roundup Ready® soybean meal and corn, distillers' meal, pig stomach contents, and pig and cattle placentas. Furthermore, the letter indicates that this organism has been found in a variety of livestock that have had spontaneous abortions and infertility and that preliminary experiments have shown that it can cause abortions in a clinical setting. The letter also alludes to a supposed escalation in the frequency of abortions and infertility in US livestock over the past few years, and speculates that this new pathogen may be responsible.
As near as we can determine, this new organism has not yet been described in scientific publications or in oral presentations at scientific meetings. Results from research demonstrating its ability to cause abortions or other negative health consequences in animals have not been presented in these settings either. It is very unusual that preliminary experiments that demonstrate an ability of an organism to cause abortion could already be competed without some description of the organism itself being presented to scientists in written or oral communications. The discovery of a new organism, especially a pathogen, is usually revealed to the scientific community first for review of the findings by one's peers and to encourage further research on the organism and any potential consequences of the findings on human, animal, or plant health. If such a new organism, especially one with the potential detrimental effects on livestock health as described in some of these internet postings, has been discovered, the relevant information should be immediately available for review by scientists and veterinary diagnosticians and practitioners.
These postings also refer to the "escalating frequency" of abortions and infertility in livestock in the US. It is true that abortion and infertility are important causes of decreased animal health and economic loss, and indeed, there are many potential causes of livestock abortion and infertility. However, we are unaware of any documented "escalation" in their frequency over the last several decades during which time glyphosate or Roundup Ready® varieties of crops have been available and used widely.
Until such time as the claims of a new pathogen and increased levels of animal disease associated with it or glyphosate use, such as described in these recent internet postings, have been subjected to scientific review, farmers and livestock owners should be very cautious about attaching credibility to them. Good record keeping, preventive health measures, and timely diagnostic procedures and laboratory submissions are the foundation of maintaining animal health.
EDITOR's NOTE: You will find 3 related articles regarding recent concerns surrounding the use of glyphosate in this week's OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team C.O.R.N. newsletter. The articles and links include Glyphosate Effects on the Occurance and Development of Soybean Diseases, Trying to Sift Through the Current Wealth of Information (and Misinformation) About Glyphosate, and Glyphosate Application Effects on Soybean Manganese Nutrition.
New Beef 510 Program Planned for April 9: Sequel to Successful Beef 509 - John F. Grimes, Ohio State University Extension Beef Coordinator
The movie industry has often brought us sequels to successful movies in the past. Following their lead, Ohio State University Extension, The Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences, and the Ohio Cattlemen's Association have developed a sequel to one of their successful educational programs. This new program, known as Beef 510, will be a one-day event that features an elite group of well-known speakers. Confirmed speakers include Janet Riley, American Meat Institute; Nevil Speer, Western Kentucky University; Aaron Arnett, Select Sires, Inc.; Tony Forshey, Ohio Department of Agriculture; Henry Zerby and Francis Fluharty, Ohio State University.
The Beef 510 program is designed to accommodate a larger number of participants and will build on the original 509 program to enhance producer knowledge from the pasture to the plate. It will also include plenty of cooler time so participants can refresh their carcass grading skills and even bring their own steaks to compete in the BEEF (Best Ever Eating Frenzy) Contest.
The Beef 510 program will be held on Saturday, April 9th at the Ohio State University Animal Sciences building located at 2029 Fyffe Rd. in Columbus. The program begins with registration at 9:00 a.m. and concludes with the awards and program wrap-up at 6:00 p.m. Registration is $65 per person and is open to 509 alumni and any other interested individuals. Registration will include lunch, the evening barbeque and an opportunity to visit with past 509 instructors and meet some of the new faces in the Animal Sciences Department. Interested individuals are encouraged to register promptly as registrations close on March 25 and the program is expected to quickly reach its maximum of 75 participants. Registration information is also available at www.ohiocattle.org, or by contacting Andy Johnson of the Ohio Beef Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-873-6736
Forage Focus: Grazing Bites, March 2011 - Victor Shelton, NRCS Grazing Specialist
Even though it might not feel like it yet in some places and certainly most mornings, spring will soon certainly be upon us. Are we ready? Is the pasture ready? I know the livestock are ready and probably have been dreaming of green pastures and warmer weather a lot lately.
We enter this spring in slightly different circumstances than most years after the majority of the past summer and fall being extremely droughty and little or no forage growth during that time period. This sets us up . . . well rather the livestock up, for potentially slightly different forage availability and growth rates, and some changes in nutritional balances.
Let's first take a look at these pastures. I think a lot of the pastures and hay fields actually look a lot worse than they really are. Most of the tall cool-season forages like orchardgrass and tall fescue went dormant fairly early in that drought period and if not totally overgrazed, a good percentage should come back, especially the fescue. Forages that are not near as drought tolerant such as bluegrass or perennial ryegrass were hit the hardest and may have died out. Droughty soils such as sand and strip-mined ground will also show more damage due to poor water holding capacity. Thin stands will of course result in poorer yields.
Dig down into the roots if possible and look at the roots. Are they alive and healthy? The more live root mass, the better the early growth will be and a good indicator that the plant went dormant before being eaten too close or that you did a good job in maintaining some residual. If there is very much bare soil or you lack sufficient quality live forage plants, then we need to consider either adding to the present stand or starting over. Reseeding may be needed to increase desired forage species, increase nutritional value, provide a denser, stand and reduce weeds.
If the grass stand is sufficient and only lacks adequate legumes, then this is probably the easiest scenario to fix. I would strongly recommend frost-seeding additional or needed legumes as soon as possible so the seed can work its way down through the cover and get to the soil where freezing and thawing conditions will help it find its ideal growing location. All legumes should be inoculated with the appropriate inoculants for that species to insure proper and good germination, growth and nitrogen fixation. If you truly want to change or improve the forages of the pasture, then starting over and killing out the existing stand is probably the best thing to do. On the conservative side, if the stand is really only a little thin and you and the livestock are satisfied with the existing forages, then I would probably rely a little more on the existing seed bank and do any needed creative grazing required to return the stand to its prior level of performance and condition. Allowing longer rests between grazing periods and allowing more desirable forages to mature and graze in a more mature condition will help revive the stand and density.
Now, with less residual or "brown growth" left from last year, we will find the livestock and especially cattle needing more roughage or fiber this spring on most pasture. Usually we have a fair amount of residual "dry" material left to help balance out the carbon nitrogen ratio of the rumen. Typically at first turnout, the cows will graze for two to three days and then start hitting every fence row and dry matter source they can find to try and maintain that mat on their rumen. If they can't, the fermentation vat does not work properly, the system works too fast, nutrients are not absorbed fast enough and beware standing too close behind old Bessie. Given the opportunity, they will balance themselves, but it has to be available first. Consider providing some hay or even straw in the grazing paddock - they will eat it if they need it.
All pastures are going to require more rest this spring. That is not going to be the easiest thing to do in many cases, especially as the hay supply dwindles. Growth will get better with time, but will in lots of cases start out slower than normal because of the reduced residual and particularly less roots. If you have to graze earlier than you really should, keep the animals moving giving the forages a fighting chance to recover. The more rest they can get, the better they will be later in the year…and better survival and growth if we find ourselves in droughty conditions again.
Moist, "live" soils with an ample supply of organic matter will produce more forage and potentially higher quality forage. It is important to try and maintain and or increase the amount of cover on the soil slowing evaporation and carbon oxidation; thus more drought tolerance…or perhaps just normal Indiana summer weather . . . but it starts now. W.A. Albrecht was a leader in promoting the idea that improving the soil by increasing organic matter and fertility improved the nutritional value and yield of forages. Today we know that soil health is the first place to start when looking to sustain and improve plant and animal well being. Keep the soil covered, keep it cool, and provide sufficient rest to the plants growing on it. Kit Pharo says, "Agriculture that is not profitable and enjoyable will never be sustainable".
Keep on grazing.
Heart of America Grazing Conference Proceedings & Photos
Proceedings from the 10th Heart of America Grazing Conference held in Louisville January 25-26 have been posted in PDF format on the University of Kentucky Forage website at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage/2011%20HOAGC%20Proceedings.pdf . Photo highlights of the conference are also posted.
USDA Annual Outlook Forum - John Michael Riley, Ph.D., Asst. Extension Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University and John D. Anderson, Ph.D., Livestock Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation
USDA concluded its Agricultural Outlook Forum February 24 and 25. Feed grain and oilseed projections suggest little relief from high feed prices. For 2011 corn, soybean, and wheat plantings are projected at 92.0, 78.0, and 57.0 million acres, respectively. This follows the baseline projections from USDA released earlier in the month. At 227.0 million acres, the combined acreage of these crops will be - if these projections are accurate - almost eight million acres larger than last year and over two million acres above the recent high-water mark in 2008. Add cotton to the mix, and the combined 4-crop acreage is almost 10 million acres larger than a year ago and well over 5 million acres larger than in 2008. Clearly, expectations are for a fairly substantial acreage response to current high crop prices. However, the grain inventories picture is not expected to change very much. With trend line-yields of 161.7 bushels per acre for corn, total production for 2011 is projected at 13.730 billion bushels. Compared with projected use of 13.560 billion bushels (only fractionally higher than this year), this level of production will be sufficient to increase corn stocks - but only a little. The projected 2011/12 ending stocks level of 865 million bushels works out to a stock-to-use ratio (S/U) of 6.4% - up from a 5% projection for the current marketing year but still historically very small. For soybeans, the situation is similar. Projected 2011 production of 3.345 billion bushels does exceed projected use but will only marginally raise carryover. Wheat carryover for 2011/12 is projected to contract modestly as a high level of abandonment offsets last fall's fairly substantial increase in winter wheat planting. As grain and oilseed supplies remain tight, prices will remain well-supported. Of course, the 2011/12 marketing year hasn't even started yet, so price projections at this point are highly uncertain. But it is worth noting that USDA's 2011/12 corn, soybean, and wheat marketing year average price projections of $5.60, $13.00, and $7.50 per bushel, respectively, are actually higher than their current 2010/11 price projections for those crops. The idea that grain prices could be higher next year than they are this year - with ending stocks projected to rise - is a tough one to accept, but it is entirely consistent with current supply and use projections.
Not surprisingly, as grain supplies remain stubbornly tight despite record or near-record production, meat production is forecast to be flat. Beef production is expected to decrease 1.5% in 2011 as the shrinking supply of cattle works its way through the chain. Pork and broiler production are expected to increase, though only by 0.4% and 1.1%, respectively. Strong exports are also forecast for beef and pork, rising by 2.0% and 10.6%, respectively, while broiler exports are expected to decline by 1.8% in the coming year. Flat production and strong exports clearly suggest higher prices. For 2011, USDA forecasts about a 10% increase in fed steer prices compared with 2010 and about an 8% increase in market hog prices.
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BEEF Cattle is a weekly publication of Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County and the OSU Beef Team. Contributors include members of the Beef Team and other beef cattle specialists and economists from across the U.S.
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