Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Economics of AI Breeding vs. Natural Breeding in Beef Heifers

Suggested Guidelines for Beef Heifer Selection

**Moderate frame & milk - 425 lbs at Weaning, 600 lbs at Yearling, 700 lbs at breeding, Frame Score of 4
**Large frame & milk - 500 lbs at Weaning, 750 lbs at Yearling, 875 lbs at breeding, Frame Score of 5

"The University of Minnesota maintained records and summarized the net profit or loss for heifers sold during a developmental period during a three-year period. Heifers culled on the basis of pelvic area, average daily gain, reproductive tract scores, disposition, or structural soundness at the time of the prebreeding exams and finished in a feedlot had a 3-year average net profit of $9, whereas heifers diagnosed as nonpregnant shortly after the breeding season were sold for a net loss of $86. The loss for pregnant heifers that were then diagnosed nonpregnant after wintering on native pasture and sold at a sale barn was $133."

"These figures indicate the importance of identifying heifers that will not breed during the breeding season and culling those heifers before they become an economic liability. Heifers that were diagnosed pregnant during the breeding season were allocated to three groups: first-service AI, second-service AI, or natural mating. Average profits were $163 for first-service AI heifers, $139 for second-service heifers, and $83 for heifers naturally mated. These figures take into account all synchronization costs."

"Therefore, the advantage of AI over natural mating is certainly evident from these analyses, but without sound data these results could not have been noticed. In fact, many people would (and still do) shy away from AI because of the initial costs associated with synchronization, management, and an AI technician. Nonetheless, these results would encourage a producer to seriously consider AI, realizing that the profit potential is far greater than just using natural mating.

Net Profit or Loss Associated with the Sale of Heifers at Various Stages of Reproduction . . . follow the link in the article title above for the remainder of the cost analysis provided by this Cattle Network article.

Source: Steve Boyles OSU Extension Beef Team

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pending Legislation That Will Impact the Family Farm and Rural Landowners

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) email update yesterday included a call to members to contact their Congressman during this August recess to express their Support and Opposition to critical legislation that will have a huge impact on our economic lives as cattle raisers. I've included links where I could find them, to the actual text of the bills at issue. Perusing the actual text of the bills is enlightening, and something I think we all should do more often in these days of minimal debate and rapid passage of bills which will effect our lives in both Texas and the USA.

The Affordable Food and Fuel for America Act ". . .would phase out government subsidies for corn-based ethanol over five years and promote the commercial development of second generation biofuels. This legislation would force corn-based ethanol to become commercially viable without the assistance of government dollars and eliminate competition with other commodities that use corn"

In 2008, I blogged on the devastation that I percieve has been and will continue to occur in the USA as a result of the government's blind and dumb subsidy of corn ethanol. Not only is it forever changing the landscape and air quality of states such as Nebraska and Minnesota, it is forever changing the economics of our food supply. In particular to cattle raisers, it has increased the input cost of feedlots to a point of zero profitability at times, and thus the value of our feeder calf crops at market is reduced.

The Family Farm Preservation and Conservation Estate Tax Act(couldn't find a direct link to this bill) ". . .would exempt working farm and ranch land from the death tax, as long as the land is kept in production agriculture. The bill also provides estate tax relief for land under qualified conservation easements." I could find no link to the text of this bill, instead I found references to it being from the 2007/2008 legislative sessions. TSCRA's summation of it's benefits to the continuation of family farms, rather than their liquidation due to death, makes it clear this is a bill we should all want passed.

The Clean Water Restoration Act ". . .would expand federal control over all wet areas within Texas including stock tanks, drainage ditches, ponds, small and intermittent streams, creek beds, playa lakes and mud holes." The impact of this legislation on every day life in rural America is boundless, and would mire the average family farm, the average hunter or fisherman, in red tape and legalities that will forever change our historical and current concept of private land ownership and freedom to live as we wish on our land.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act (the Cap & Trade Bill) ". . .will drastically increase the costs of fuel, electricity, feed, fertilizer, equipment and other production costs necessary to run a successful ranching business. The costs to ranchers far outweigh any benefits this legislation offers."

I absolutely need to read and try to understand for myself the impact of this bill. It is somehow still shrouded in mystery to me despite my obsession with the news. One has the sense that it is the ultimate boogey-man of bills, without even understanding the actual mechanics of its impact on our economy today and in the future. One thing that is abundantly clear, is major corporations such as General Electric stand to benefit hugely from the passage of this bill.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tom Sawyer sired British White Bull Calf - Updated

J.West's Zeus in March 2011
A wonderul British White cow is my Wanda Mae, officially named Halliburton Boopsie, and I likely should have just called her Boopsie, it does fit her personality. She was one of my original British White heifers and she was nicknamed for a childhood friend who wasn't the most popular or the most beautiful girl in my neighborhood - she was more importantly the most trusted. Wanda Mae gladly took in my Midge doll for safe keeping forever and always when a very bad lady was going to throw her away. I will always remember her fondly for taking care of my Midge.

My cow, Wanda Mae, is as equally unforgettable as my childhood friend. Wanda Mae is a fertile myrtle, a feed efficient femme fatale, a carcass queen, and the most gentle British White cow I've ever encountered in any herd in the USA or the United Kingdom. Why am I talking about Wanda Mae this evening? Well she gave me a surprise Sunday morning. A bouncing bull calf was mewling and hobbling around and announcing his brave entry into his new world.

Grew up to be J.West's Zeus, a working British White bull
I had noticed Wanda Mae looked like she was putting milk on, but she keeps a nice udder in between calves, and she stays fat, and with her deep well sprung rib area she always is mistaken for being pregnant by visitors when she's not! But I poked her udder and squeezed the nipples about a week before, wondering just what was going on. Nonetheless, I was surprised.

Fortunately, I make a habit of recording when any bull jumps a fence, plows through a fence, or seems to magically fly over a fence. In this case, it was Tom Sawyer who was the culprit, and sure enough Wanda Mae is one of three cows jotted down as possibly cycling when he made his pasture break to the girls.

Follow this link for a very short video of this handsome Tom Sawyer sired bull calf. He measured 27.5 inches, which puts him weighing about 67 pounds at birth. The video is from this afternoon, and he is now three days old. Most three day old calves in other breeds will absolutely not let you fool with them. This little guy is above and beyond friendly. I couldn't take a single stretch of video that didn't find him walking straight to me and my camera.

In this clip at the very end his Dam, Wanda Mae, puts her nose right in my camera as well. That's gentle. Make no mistake that the British White breed is truly gentle; from the day they hit the ground they have a curious and friendly nature.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fox Hill Farm - New York

Larry Lampman is a successful boutique beef producer in upstate New York, where he is now primarily working with British White and Murray Grey cattle. Larry uses lots of Artificial Insemination in his breeding program, and J.West Cattle has been pleased that he has chosen to work with semen from our herd as well, including our senior herd bull, J.West's Elvis, pictured here. The following article is found at , and Larry Lampman was as well featured in the past April issue of the Stockman Grassfarmer. Larry's approach to cattle production and marketing of his product is a lesson in perseverance and success.

The following are excerpts from this article, please follow this link for the complete article.

by Sally Colby
"Larry Lampman is the third generation farmer to live on a scenic Berkshire foothills property that was established as a farm in 1882. Larry’s grandfather raised driving horses and sheep, then Larry’s father and uncle established a dairy farm. When his father and uncle gave up farming, Larry started a herd of beef cattle with a herd of what he refers to as ‘old-fashioned’ Angus and Herefords in 1999. Larry said the idea of a cow/calf operation appealed to him, and was aware that people are interested in beef raised on pasture.

........After a few years of raising traditional beef breeds, Larry started to add heritage breeds known for their ability to thrive on grass: Red Devon, British White and Murray Grey....... Right now, the herd totals 90 animals, 50 of which are brood cows. Larry uses British White and Murray Gray A.I. sires, respectively, on those breeds.
.............“I like to have calves born in May,” he said. “The only time I don’t calve is January through March. But since I feed baleage, I can finish steers at pretty much any time of the year.” When selecting sires, Larry is most concerned with temperament and breed type rather than EPDs. “I want the animal to be tame, and in the case of British White, properly marked,” he said. “Type is most important — the kind of offspring that results from a sire.” As he built his herd, Larry retained many heifers, but he’s now ready to market some registered adult British White females.

.........Larry notes that consumers have an interest in purchasing locally produced food, but with a lack of local, small-scale inspected slaughterhouses, it’s difficult for producers to serve this need. He envisions customers getting together, purchasing an animal, sending a check for their portion; then hiring the farm owner to take care of the on-farm slaughter. “To sell retail, you have to go through a USDA-inspected slaughterhouse,” said Larry, adding that the public actually finances inspected USDA slaughter facilities. “My goal is to be able to call the inspector and make an appointment for him to come to the farm; the farm would be an approved facility for slaughter. It’s the least-stress ending to the animal that’s had a good life on the farm.”

..........Animals for retail sale are processed at a USDA facility in Litchfield, CT. In addition to an array of traditional cuts, an extremely popular offering is custom-recipe hot dogs. “They’re our best seller,” he said. “People love these hot dogs. Senator Gillibrand, a strong advocate for agriculture and on the Senate ag committee, uses these products.” The executive chef at the governor’s mansion purchases locally grown meat whenever possible, including that produced at Fox Hill Farm.

........Larry spends time simply observing his animals, and finds that this, along with routine vaccinations, is the key to keeping the herd healthy. “What we’re trying to do is responsible, sustainable agriculture,” said Larry. “I’m interested in food security and growing more food close to people, and doing it sustainably without using a lot of fossil fuels. I have to run tractors, but I haven’t used any commercial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides since I started.”

Visit Fox Hill Farm online at

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why You Should Choose British White Cattle

Click on the title link above to visit this blog found at


"A breed of beef cattle know as British White Cattle has made a remarkable transition from being status symbol in medieval Britain to a mainstream purebred beef breed.. ."

"A British White Bull is very hard to beat in a crossbreeding program. If you are wanting to follow the experts recommendation and keep your herd half British and have a preference to white he is the bull for you. He will instill easy calving into your herd and the calves will have lots of grow in them. British Whites are know to have strong genetic traits and the ability to pass them on to their calves. . ."