Krissa Welshans 1, Feedstuffs Editor

June 12, 2015

6 Min Read
Project to reduce bovine respiratory disease

A MULTIDISCIPLINARY research team from Kansas State University will study risk management strategies to help reduce the health and economic effects of bovine respiratory disease complex in commercial feeder cattle.

Principle investigator David Renter, director of the new Center for Outcomes Research & Education in the university's College of Veterinary Medicine, has received a $489,466 Agriculture & Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant for the project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food & Agriculture.

"Bovine respiratory disease complex is the most common cause of sickness and death in U.S. feeder cattle. Every year, it costs the U.S. beef industry an estimated $4 billion and negatively affects the well-being of millions of animals," said Renter, who is a professor of epidemiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine's diagnostic medicine and pathobiology department.

"Our long-term goal is to reduce the health and economic impacts of bovine respiratory disease complex by utilizing scientific and industry knowledge to improve disease management," he added.

To reach this goal, Renter said there is clearly a need to concurrently develop health and economic risk management strategies that combine the best science with data from commercial beef cattle production systems.

The data generated in the research will reflect the different types of cattle populations and production settings in the industry and will enable the scientific results and approaches to be directly relevant to reducing the effects of bovine respiratory disease in the U.S. beef industry.

"Our research goal is to develop strategies that differentiate bovine respiratory disease complex risks among diverse feeder cattle populations and identify sustainable approaches to reducing the disease in these animal populations," Renter said. "We will achieve this goal through three interrelated research objectives. We also will collaborate with cattle producers and veterinarians to generate more detailed information on how feeder calves were managed prior to feedlot purchase by studying groups of feeder cattle in different segments of the beef industry."

Renter said the collective research approaches, combined with industry partnerships, will enable his research team to develop risk management strategies that can lead to an immediate and sustainable reduction in the effects of bovine respiratory disease on the U.S. beef industry.


Grazing program

The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University will offer a new grazing education and networking program intended for young and beginning grazers.

The three-part series, to be held in five different locations this summer and fall, is sponsored by the Beginning & Young Livestock Producers Network initiative of Iowa State Extension & Outreach and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"There is no fee to attend, but we strongly encourage preregistration to ensure adequate materials for everyone," said Iowa State Extension & Outreach beef specialist Joe Sellers. "Participants will receive an in-depth grazing resource guide and join discussions with other producers from their region and with extension specialists."

For program details and dates, visit

The Iowa Beef Center and Iowa State University Extension & Outreach also recently announced that they have completely revised the "Beef Feedlot Systems Manual" for producers considering feedlot facility expansion.

Iowa State Extension beef program specialist Russ Euken led the revision effort for the manual, which describes and compares four types of feedlot facilities: open lots, open lots with shelter, solid-floor bedded confinements and slatted-floor confinement buildings. He said the manual is designed to help producers make investment decisions based on these types of facilities.

"The manual has updated investment and operating costs for all four types of facilities and includes estimated performance and manure values," Euken said. "A calculated cost of gain for each facility type is provided, and environmental stewardship and regulations are also discussed in the manual."

The manual is available on the Iowa Beef Center feedlot webpage under "Facilities," then "Feedlot Facilities" and "Environment." Paper copies are available for $7 through the same link.

Because actual facility costs can vary from those used in the manual, Euken and others also developed a spreadsheet-based calculator that allows users to enter their own costs and performance assumptions for making facility decisions.

"In addition to entering their own costs and performance assumptions, users can explore financing alternatives for facilities," Euken explained. "The calculator will provide a cost of gain calculation for each type of facility entered, as well as an income statement and financial efficiency measures."

The calculator is available as a free download from the Iowa Beef Center website at


Marbling scanner

Researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology, a government-backed institute in Japan, recently announced that they have developed a new scanner to detect the amount of marbling in cattle.

Yoshito Nakashima, chief senior researcher at the institute, told Japan Real Time in an email that the machine will be the first of its kind in the world.

The device uses what is called a single-sided nuclear magnetic resonance scanner, which can detect the amount of muscle and fat non-invasively. The scanner takes only about 10 seconds to assess the level of fat. Although it can check an area only approximately 3 cm deep from the surface of the skin, Nakashima said this is usually enough to provide information on marbling.

The researchers plan to further develop the machine for possible use on other types of meat or for observing livestock health.

Nakashima said the scanner may be ready for commercialization in a couple of years.


Feeder marketing

Superior Livestock and Verified Beef LLC have announced a partnership that will provide ranchers with a value-based marketing system for feeder cattle.

Recognizing the emerging trend of selling feeder cattle based on their breeding and management history, the two companies will jointly offer ranchers the option to certify their calves through Verified Beef's "Reputation Feeder Cattle" program and then market the calves on Superior Livestock.

Superior Livestock has pioneered value-added marketing of feeder calves by providing a national marketplace that brings calves directly from the ranch to buyers, according to the company. Over the years, ranchers have further differentiated their calves through vaccination and weaning programs.

More recently, Superior released its Superior Progress Genetics program that identifies the genetic source behind the calves. Now, customers can use the Reputation Feeder Cattle program as a third-party verification of both management practices and genetic merit.

Verified Beef, a third-party verification company, developed the Reputation Feeder Cattle program, which defines feeder calf value by verifying genetics and calf best management practices. The program differentiates calves based on three fundamental principles:

1. Predicting the performance potential of each herd's unique genetic composition. Calves are ranked on six traits and assigned a relative market value that predicts their feedlot profitability.

2. Documenting the calves' nutritional and vaccination history, including the products used and the timing of use.

3. Certifying the calves' age and source, along with any other value-based program that the producer desires to implement.

"Producers that have invested their time and money pursing best practices and high-quality genetics should have their hard work and investments recognized when they sell at auction," said Danny Jones, president of Superior Livestock Auctions. "We feel that the Reputation Feeder Cattle certification logo in the catalog and at point of sale will help buyers more accurately identify the calves they want."

Volume:87 Issue:23

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