Feedstuffs is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

EPA commits to RFS timeline

EPA commits to RFS timeline

THE Environmental Protection Agency has accepted a settlement with oil industry groups by agreeing to a Nov. 30 deadline for setting requirements under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

The tentative consent decree comes after the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers filed a lawsuit March 18 over EPA's failure to meet congressionally mandated RFS deadlines.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set the annual RFS ethanol mandates by Nov. 30 of the preceding year, but EPA issued the 2013 requirements eight months late and has yet to issue the 2014 or 2015 requirements.

Under the agreement, EPA pledged to propose the 2015 RFS mandate by June 1, 2015, and to finalize the 2014 and 2015 RFS mandates by Nov. 30, 2015. It will also re-propose, by June 1, volume requirements for 2014 that reflect the amount of renewable fuel used in 2014.

Should EPA stick to this Nov. 30 deadline to finalize renewable volume obligations, it will be almost two years late on its 2014 deadline to propose acceptable ethanol volume obligations and nearly one year late for 2015. Biodiesel volumes are now even further behind schedule and will be a full three years late by the November timeline.

In a statement, API said it hopes the agreement "helps get the RFS back on track" but continued to call for a long-term solution in a congressional repeal of the RFS.

Ethanol supporters see the agreement as a way to provide more certainty to an industry that has been in limbo for the past few years due to EPA's indecision. The National Farmers Union said EPA releasing the target levels will "restore stability to an already damaged biofuels market."

Bob Dinneen, chief executive officer of the Renewable Fuels Assn., said, "No one has benefited from the delays in setting annual renewable volume obligations, and while we are sympathetic to the difficulty EPA faces in promulgating annual targets, the statute is clear about the volumes required, and the agency simply has to do a better job of moving forward."

In a statement, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.) called EPA's announcement "another punch in the gut for biodiesel workers in North Dakota and throughout the country, proposing a timeline that's both unhelpful and out of touch with reality."


Re-proposed levels

Clearly, questions will remain as to the volume levels EPA proposes, but EPA has reiterated that it will "re-propose volume requirements for 2014 ... that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014."

The volume of biomass-based diesel used in 2014 was approximately 1.75 billion gal., so EPA reaffirming its commitment to "actual use" appears to be a step in the right direction, the National Biodiesel Board said in a statement.

Unlike other fuel categories of the RFS, biodiesel volumes — called biomass-based diesel under the program — are to be finalized 14 months in advance of the applicable year.

Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council, said the industry looks forward to working with EPA to make sure that the new RFS proposal supports the commercial deployment of advanced biofuels, as called for by Congress.

"We were encouraged by EPA's decision late last year to pull a problematic 2014 proposal, and we are optimistic that EPA will make the necessary adjustments and put the RFS back on track going forward," Coleman said.

Volume:87 Issue:15

Rain misses key wheat areas, for now

Rain misses key wheat areas, for now

WHILE much of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas have had rain, the showers have missed the wheat fields that really need it, mainly in western Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and the northern Texas Panhandle, where the crop is struggling.

Farmers remain optimistic. Forecasts showed rain for those areas over the weekend and early this week.

"We are hoping we will get that rain," said Justin Gilpin, chief executive of the Kansas Wheat Commission.

Much of the wheat in the drier areas Gilpin listed was hurt by an early spring freeze. Rain now would help those plants recover.

"Most of the rain has been in central Oklahoma and southeast Kansas," Gilpin said. "We have not received good rain in the key hard red winter wheat areas of Kansas."

Kansas farmers remember 1997, when an April freeze hit the crop. That was followed by mild spring temperatures and regular showers that spurred a recovery to produce a record 506 million bu. harvest from about 11 million planted acres.

While a record harvest appears unlikely in 2015 because acreage is down, it is hoped that a decent one may still be possible. Farmers seeded 9.4 million acres of wheat in Kansas last fall.

On April 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rated the winter wheat crop 42% good to excellent, down from 44% the week before but better than 34% a year earlier. In that mix was Kansas wheat, which was rated 28% good to excellent, 44% fair, 20% poor and 8% very poor.



Corn planting is just getting under way in the Midwest, with farmers in some areas hoping for a break in the rain to get planters in the fields.

USDA said 2% of the corn was planted as of April 12, which is behind 3% at this time last year and the average pace of 5%. However, no one is too concerned as today's big equipment can cover a lot of ground in a short time once the storms subside.

The good news is that much of the Midwest has ample soil moisture, once the crops get planted. USDA's latest soil moisture readings show topsoil moisture 81% adequate to surplus in Iowa, 93% in Illinois and 98% in Indiana. Nebraska lags a bit with 53%.

As of April 16, the National Weather Service's six- to 10- day forecast showed normal to above-normal precipitation for much of the Midwest, and the 20- to 30-day outlook had similar amounts.



Old-crop soybean export sales moved to the plus-side in the latest week, following a net decline the previous week, while new-crop sales were down from the week before, USDA said in its latest weekly export tally.

Corn exports were within trade forecasts for both the old and new crops, although sales — at 23.2 million bu. and 1.1 million bu., respectively — were down from the prior week (Table).

Wheat sales were 1.8 million bu. for the old crop, down sharply from the previous week, while new-crop sales, at 4.1 million bu., were larger. The current wheat crop year is winding down and ends May 31.

Chicago, Ill., soybean futures briefly turned higher after the report in the final minutes of the Thursday morning overnight session last week, while the three wheat markets retained minor gains. The corn market had little reaction before the overnight finished, settling nearly unchanged.

The old-crop soybean business included 11.5 million bu. in sales to Germany, the Netherlands and unknown destinations. New-crop net sales of about 8.3 million bu. were led by China, unknown destinations and Japan.

Soybean meal sales of 130,400 metric tons for the 2014-15 crop were up from the previous week, with Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala the leading buyers. Net sales of 13,100 mt for 2015-16 supplies were down from the previous week and were led by Peru, the Dominican Republic and unknown destinations.

The nearly 23.2 million bu. in old-crop corn sales were led by Japan, South Korea and China, while the 1.2 million bu. in new-crop business was led by unknown destinations, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Sorghum sales of 2.6 million bu. for the 2014-15 crop went to China and Japan, while 13.8 million of 2015-16 business went mostly to China, and some to Japan.

The nearly 1.8 million bu. in old-crop wheat sales were led by Egypt, Ecuador and Peru. The 4.13 million bu. in new-crop sales were led by the Philippines, Mexico and unknown destinations.

Export sales for week ending April 9, million bu.




Old-crop sales




New-crop sales




Total sales




Previous week




Trade estimates




USDA forecast




Export shipments




USDA forecast




% of USDA commitments




Avg. for the week, %




% of USDA shipments




Avg. for the week, %




Sources: USDA, Reuters.



U.S. export shipments of corn, wheat and soybeans in the first quarter of 2015 were down 9% from a year ago, according USDA's grain inspection service. The 29 million mt in shipments also were down 1% from the five-year average.

Corn export inspections dropped as global production and export competition increased from last year (Figure 1). Soybean inspections were slowed by a 14% drop in shipments to Asia (Figure 2), while wheat inspections were affected by increased global competition and a strong U.S. dollar.

Meanwhile, high water on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers has raised the cost to ship grain and soybeans downriver to Gulf export points.

As of April 14, grain barge rates increased 2% from the previous week to 8% on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, while rates on the Ohio River have been steady for the last three weeks, USDA said in its latest weekly "Grain Transportation Report."

Current barge rates are 28-46% above the three-year average for principle originating river shipping points for exported grain. Year-to-date grain shipments on the locking portions of the river system are at 8 million tons, down 8% from a year ago.

Rain misses key wheat areas, for now

Market recap

The hard red winter wheat market dropped significantly this month in reaction to the forecasts for rain in the Plains. New-crop July hard red winter wheat set a contract low of $5.105/bu. last Thursday. That is down nearly 13% from the April 2 settlement of $5.86.

July soft red winter wheat closed at $4.9075/bu. last Thursday, an 8% drop from early April.

Corn and soybean futures appeared to move in unison last week, starting lower but then gaining some upward mobility late in the week. The gains were not nearly enough to return the two markets to their early-April levels of about $3.88/bu. for corn and $9.90/bu. for soybeans.

Wet fields contributed to lower trends, with soybeans getting added pressure from the big South American soybean crops. Sources in Argentina last week bumped up estimates for that crop to 59 mmt from their previous 58 mmt. USDA earlier this month raised its Argentina soybean crop estimate from 56 mmt to 57 mmt.

One concern for traders and farmers is if the parade of storms across the Midwest will pause long enough to let planters in the field. Cold and snow also have been an issue. Iowa reported only 2.7 days suitable for field work in the past week, with cool soil temperatures and snow keeping equipment sidelined. A year ago, it had 3.6 suitable days.

The National Weather Service's six- to 10-day outlook, which runs through April 26, shows average rain for most of the Midwest, which may give farmers a window of dry planting weather. Above-average rain is in that forecast for the Delta. The monthly outlook for May shows mostly normal precipitation for the Midwest, central Plains and northern Plains.

Volume:87 Issue:15

Livestock & poultry cash market comparisons, 4/20/15

Livestock & poultry cash market comparisons, 4/20/15

Livestock and meat ($)

April 15

April 8

6 months ago

Year ago

Steers, Choice, carcass, 550-700 lb., cwt., Omaha





Steers, Choice, 1,050-1,200 lb., cwt. Southern Plains





Feeder Steers, 600-700 lb., cwt., Oklahoma City





Lean Hogs, Carcass, Iowa-Minn. 167-187 lb.(1)





Feeder Pigs, 40 lb. National Direct Delivered(2)





SEW Pigs, 10 lb., National direct delivered (per head)





Choice Beef, cutout, cwt.





Pork Loin, 185 lb. 51-52% lean, cutout, cwt.(3)





Hog Corn Ratio





Steer Corn Ratio





Poultry and eggs (cents)





Chickens, Grade A, Fresh lb. Chicago





Hen Turkeys, Grade A, Frozen, lb., Chicago





Young Tom Turkeys, Grade A. Frozen lb. Chicago





Eggs, Grade A, Large, doz., Chicago





N/A: not available

A: average




(1) Replaces live hogs; live hogs are 0.755 of quote.
(2) Replaces Sioux Falls, 50-60 lbs. (2/26/07)
(3) National FOB plant, replaces national daily carlot.
Livestock, meat, poultry and egg prices from USDA.


Volume:87 Issue:15

Farmers 'feed the world' losing pull (commentary)

Farmers 'feed the world' losing pull (commentary)

Farmers 'feed the world' losing pull (commentary)
AMERICA'S farmers feed the world. It's a claim that's often used in response to criticism of modern farming practices.

Food producers have traditionally said farming practices have evolved in order to grow food as efficiently as possible in order to feed a rapidly growing global population.

U.S. farmers, with strong reason, have a tremendous sense of pride in the fact that they've been able to help feed people around the world. There's no doubt that more people are demanding more food, while the number of farmers continues to dwindle. Many farmers feel strongly that it's the duty of the less than 1% of the U.S. population still directly involved in farming to help feed the masses.

Feeding the world requires harvesting more food and grain per acre while using fewer resources. Accomplishing this requires new and better technology, including genetically modified seeds, more effective pesticides and innovative animal housing systems.

Economists agree that bigger harvests in the U.S. tend to make food more affordable around the world, and lower food prices are a good thing for a vast majority of people. But it's becoming increasingly apparent that "feeding the world" is a message that is no longer effective with the American public.

In the latest consumer research conducted by The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), only around one in four people strongly agreed with the statement: "The U.S. has a responsibility to provide food for the rest of the world" (Infographic). That's an improvement from when the statement was first tested in 2011, when only 13% of respondents strongly agreed.

These results indicate that consumers do not believe U.S. farmers should be responsible for feeding the world. It's difficult to know the reasons.

Some might argue that there's less support for food assistance programs abroad during tough economic times at home. It's possible that more people than we realize recognize that food supplies represent just part of the problem of global food insecurity. It may simply be that U.S. consumers are more focused on access to safe, affordable food for their families than on how other families around the world are making do.

It's understandable that farmers might feel a sense of frustration that "feeding the world" is no longer a message that resonates with the American public. CFI's research suggests that many people feel that if feeding the world means more "industrial-scale" farming, they're not comfortable with it.

Agriculture needs to find messages that deliver direct benefits to consumers or society in order to build support for today's farming practices. For example, the CFI research shows that more consumers want "healthy and affordable" food, so talk about how what you do on the farm provides it.

In addition, the findings suggest that consumers want to know that farm animals are treated humanely. Talk to consumers about your dedication to the humane treatment of animals.

CFI's peer-reviewed research proves that communicating shared values is three-to-five times more effective in building consumer trust than messages that focus on our competency in areas like science and economics.

Talking about your ethical obligation to the proper care of animals and growing safe food goes a long way toward building trust. Farm groups also need to show that the way today's food is grown is consistent with the values of American consumers.

Once consumers know you share their values and care about what's important to them, they are more likely to consider information you want to share dealing with science or economics.

For example, share how you care for animals in climate-controlled buildings to protect them from disease, predators and the elements and how providing the best animal care allows you to provide consumers with safe, nutritious, affordable food and make a living to provide for your family.

Or, share how modern tilling methods help protect the soil from erosion, while global positioning systems allow us to be better stewards of the land by reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers through pinpoint application.

Building trust means engaging with consumers and customers early and often and being transparent with them regarding all facets of food production. Doing so gives consumers permission to believe that today's food system is consistent with their values and expectations.

Failure means we will continue to see erosion in consumer trust and increased restrictions on the farming practices needed to operate efficiently and profitably.

To be successful, we have to build and communicate an ethical foundation for our practices and engage in values-based communication.

If consumers don't believe U.S. agriculture has a responsibility to feed the world, then we can't build consumer support for today's farming simply by claiming that we need to feed more people. We need to build public support for the notion that providing the world and our neighbors here at home with safe, affordable and healthy food is the right thing to do.

The reward is worth the effort, even if it takes time to build support.

Editor's Note: The 2014 "CFI Consumer Trust Research" report can be found at www.foodintegrity.org.

*Bob Stallman is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Volume:87 Issue:15

Grain & ingredient cash market comparisons, 4/20/15

Grain & ingredient cash market comparisons, 4/20/15

Major feed ingredients

April 15

April 8

6 months ago

Year ago

Corn No. 2, Chicago, bu.





Processor bid*





Terminal bid*





Milo, Kansas City, cwt.





Soybeans, Chicago, bu., processor bid





Soybean Meal, 48% Decatur Bid





Cottonseed Meal, Memphis, ton





Canola meal, Minneapolis, ton





Linseed Meal, Solvent, Minneapolis





Meat and Bone Meal, Chicago, ton





Fish Meal, Menhaden, Atlanta, ton





Corn Gluten Meal, 60%, Chicago, ton





Distillers Dried Grains, Chicago, ton





17% Dehy. Alfalfa Pellets, KC, ton





Millfeeds, Midds, Minneapolis, ton





Molasses, Cane, Houston, ton





Dried Citrus Pulp, Atlanta, ton





Whey, Whole, Chicago, cwt.





Rolled Oats, Minneapolis, ton





Barley, Los Angeles , cwt.





Feeding Wheat, Kansas City, bu.





* Chicago corn and soybean prices for latest and previous week are the middle of the range of to-arrive bids; soybean meal prices are midrange of processor quotes. Chicago corn and soybean prices provided by USDA Market News. Six months, year ago comparisons are all spot cash. Based on prices reported by Feedstuffs' market reporters.

A: average

N/A: not available


Volume:87 Issue:15

Ag experiencing ripple effects

Ag experiencing ripple effects

Ag experiencing ripple effects
THE agricultural markets are experiencing ripple effects from lower price environments amid mounting inventories, plunging oil and gas prices and a strong U.S. dollar, according to a new quarterly industry review from CoBank.

Strong domestic inventories of corn, soybeans and wheat, along with similarly ample supplies in international markets, have resulted in lower prices for many commodities. However, the animal protein sectors are benefitting from the grain surplus and subsequently lower feed costs, as well as declining fuel prices, the report notes.

"We are seeing a silver lining in the face of a depressed energy industry," said Leonard Sahling, director of CoBank's knowledge exchange division, which produced the report. "While we can't fully know all the outcomes of significantly lower gas prices, some agricultural industries seem to be reaping the rewards."

The report explains that the crop markets are awaiting final planting allocations for price direction as all major grain, oilseed and fiber crops are already in ample supply ahead of the 2015-16 crop year. The animal protein complex, on the other hand, is at an early stage of what promises to be an aggressive expansion in meat supplies.

The report suggests that beef will remain in short supply throughout much of 2016, and demand doesn't seem to be wavering in response to higher meat prices.

"The continued strengthening of the U.S. economy and lower gas prices should support the trend of robust beef demand in 2015," Sahling said.

As a result, a bright spot exists in the U.S. cow/calf profitability outlook, with very profitable net returns averaging nearly $500 per cow, the bank said.

Since late last year, the hog and pork industry has shifted from a situation of scarcity to one of oversupply, the report explains: "Hog prices have plummeted, while supply has ballooned far beyond the level previously forecasted."

Average hog prices in the first quarter of 2015 were nearly 35% lower than year-ago levels, CoBank reported (Figure).

With fundamentally lower feed input costs and the outlook for production costs to remain relatively constant, the bank said producer profitability will depend on hog prices.

"The erosion of prices in the oversupplied market has pressured producer margins in the latter part of the first quarter, which have, at times, been in the red on a cash-to-cash calculation," the report explains.

According to the report, the outlook for poultry remains positive, barring any potential negative impacts from the recent emergence of avian flu on some non-commercial poultry farms.

"Fears of trade restrictions are growing as avian flu has jumped from the Pacific Flyway to the Mississippi Flyway, and positive cases are found in turkey flocks in key poultry-producing states," the report warns. "If the bird flu continues to spread and trade restrictions are imposed, the result would likely be a supply glut in the domestic market, which would have ripple effects for production and profitability across the poultry, beef and pork complexes."

CoBank said poultry industry profitability will be highly dependent on how the trade situation unfolds.

All in all, strong domestic demand, lower feed costs, animal disease outbreaks and deteriorating exports have created an uncertain but generally positive environment for the animal protein and dairy markets, according to the report. That uncertainty also extends across the entire food, fiber and agriculture supply chain, leading to lower fertilizer prices, land rents and cropland values.

"If global harvests match current bullish expectations within this global economic setting, and if the livestock and dairy industries continue to realign, further adjustments will ensue across the global supply chains," CoBank suggested.

If the lower commodity prices persist, net farm income could decline by as much as 20-30%, the bank added.

"However, the balance sheet of agriculture remains strong, with the overall debt-to-asset ratio in 2015 expected to remain below 11%, among the lowest in over 50 years," the report notes.

The ethanol sector is where the ripple effects from lower fuel prices and lower grain prices collide, according to the report.

"Ethanol prices have fallen by more than half since their peak a year ago. However, despite negative impacts from plummeting oil prices, plant operators are still maintaining positive margins thanks to lower-priced corn," CoBank noted, adding that it predicts further margin deterioration for ethanol through 2015.

The report also briefly addresses the California water situation, saying conservation has become a paramount concern as the state braces for a fourth year of severe drought.

"Declining revenues from reductions in water use will require innovative rate structures that can stabilize finances while still encouraging conservation," CoBank said. "Moving forward, it will be critical for water utilities nationwide to study the lessons learned in California and consider rate structures that can keep the utilities solvent through prolonged periods of volatile weather and climate conditions."

Volume:87 Issue:15

Added protein boosts calf growth, immunity

Added protein boosts calf growth, immunity

*Philipe Moriel, Luis Artioli and Matt Poore are with the department of animal science at North Carolina State University in Waynesville, N.C. Reinaldo Cooke is with the Oregon State University Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns, Ore. To expedite answers to questions concerning this column, please direct inquiries to Feedstuffs, Bottom Line of Nutrition, 7900 International Dr., Suite 650, Bloomington, Minn. 55425, or email [email protected]

WEANING, vaccination and feedlot entry are the major sources of stress that induce inflammatory responses in preconditioning calves (Cooke et al., 2011; Arthington et al., 2013; Moriel and Arthington, 2013).

During these inflammatory responses, nutrient demand increases to support the immune system (Reeds and Jahoor, 2001; Waggoner et al., 2009). Survival has a greater priority over growth, so it is understandable that animals will grow less when facing a disease or any immunological challenge.

In order to support the immune response, muscle is mobilized, and amino acids absorbed from the diet will be used for multiple physiological responses instead of for growth. The end results is that stressed calves have greater nutrient demand, use fewer nutrients for growth and, consequently, have lower average daily gain (ADG).

Also, multiple exposures to stress will decrease the immune response of calves, leading to a greater risk of developing respiratory diseases.

However, the nutrient composition of the diet can be modified and protein intake increased in order to provide the amino acids necessary to support the immune system and alleviate muscle protein mobilization (Moriel and Arthington, 2014).

Thanks to the North Carolina Cattlemen's Assn. beef checkoff support and Zoetis Animal Health, we designed a study to evaluate the growth performance and measurements of immune response of vaccinated beef steers fed increasing amounts of protein during a 42-day preconditioning period.

Briefly, the experiment was conducted at the Butner Beef Field Laboratory in Butner, N.C. Angus crossbred steers at a weight of approximately 500 lb. and 184 days of age were weaned and immediately transferred to tall fescue pastures with corn silage supplementation for six days. Then, steers were transferred into one of 18 feedlot pens.

Treatments consisted of steers receiving one of three corn silage-based diets formulated to provide 85%, 100% or 115% of the daily metabolizable protein requirements of a beef steer that gains 2.2 lb. of bodyweight daily: 79%, 76% and 74% of dry matter as total digestible nutrients and 11%, 15% and 19% of dry matter as crude protein, respectively. Diets were formulated to provide the same amount of energy but different levels of crude protein. Steers were limit-fed their respective diet at 2.2% of bodyweight (dry matter basis) once daily for 42 days.

Calves were vaccinated with the Select-Vac protocol from Zoetis Animal Health on days 14 and 28 after feedlot entry.

In our study, overall ADG from days 0 to 42 increased as the protein supply was increased (Table). Hence, steers that received a diet with 85% of their protein requirements were 27 lb. lighter than steers provided 100% of their protein requirements. Also, steers fed 115% of their protein requirements were 15 lb. heavier than steers provided 100% of their protein requirements.

There may be several reasons for the better growth performance as dietary protein was increased, but one includes differences in dry matter intake. As the dietary protein supply was increased, weekly dry matter intake also increased. However, steers fed 100% or 115% of their protein requirements were 17% and 21%, respectively, more feed efficient compared to steers fed 85% of their protein requirements (Table).

In agreement, Fluharty and Loerch (1995) also reported a linear increase in ADG during the first week of feedlot entry and overall feed efficiency as crude protein intake of newly received feedlot steers increased from 12% to 18% of a corn silage-based diet.


Growth performance of steers provided 85%, 100% and 115% of their protein requirements during a 42-day preconditioning period.


-Protein requirements, %-

Std. error






of means


Bodyweight, lb.






Day 0






Day 14






Day 28






Day 42






ADG, kg/day (days 0-42)












a,bWithin a row, means without a common superscript differ (P < 0.05).


Immune effects

As mentioned before, the amino acid requirement to support the inflammatory response caused by weaning, vaccination and feedlot entry is met by dietary protein digestion (Waggoner et al., 2009) and muscle protein mobilization (Reeds and Jahoor, 2001).

To further test the hypothesis that greater protein supply provides greater substrate availability for the immune system but simultaneously alleviates muscle mobilization, we collected muscle samples to analyze genes associated with muscle protein synthesis and degradation.

Although we did not detect statistically significant differences, it is interesting to note that steers fed 85% of their protein requirements had a numerically lower expression of genes associated with protein synthesis (mTOR) and greater expression of genes associated with protein degradation (m-calpain and ubiquitin) than steers provided 100% and 115% of their protein requirements.

Thus, we could suggest that steers fed 85% of their protein requirements were likely more dependent on muscle mobilization to support the immune system, whereas the additional protein supply in steers fed 100% and 115% of their protein requirements contributed to the immune system and alleviated muscle tissue mobilization.

Neutralizing antibody titers can be used as an indicator of immune protection (Bolin and Ridpath, 1995) and response to vaccination in calves (Richeson et al., 2008). The ability to respond to vaccination varies from animal to animal and depends on environmental and genetic factors.

Little research has been conducted to evaluate the interaction between vaccination and nutrition. Hence, we also investigated how the dietary protein supply could affect antibody production of vaccinated preconditioning steers.

In our study, steers fed 115% of their protein requirements had greater serum titers against bovine viral diarrhea virus 1b (BVDV-1b) on day 42 compared to steers fed 85% and 100% of their protein requirements (Figure).

The majority of bovine respiratory disease cases occur within 30 days postweaning or 14 days relative to feedlot entry (Kirkpatrick et al., 2008). Hence, our data indicate that steers provided 115% of their protein requirements might have greater immune protection and less chance of developing bovine respiratory disease following feedlot entry.

Another factor that may explain the differences observed in serum antibody titers and growth performance is the immune-suppressive effects of protein deprivation and cortisol. Dietary protein malnutrition impairs the communication and cooperation among immune cells (Dai and McMurray, 1998), whereas cortisol blocks secretion of proteins that are involved in antibody production (Salak-Johnson and McGlone, 2007).

In our study, plasma cortisol concentrations tended to decrease as dietary protein was increased on days 14 and 28. Hence, steers that were protein deficient had greater plasma cortisol concentrations and likely had decreased communication between the innate and humoral immune response, leading to decreased antibody production against BVDV-1b.

Added protein boosts calf growth, immunity

The Bottom Line

Increasing the metabolizable protein supply to stressed, preconditioning beef steers corrected the imbalances between amino acids supplied and required by the immune system, consequently alleviating muscle protein mobilization and leading to greater growth performance during a 42-day preconditioning period.

Also, the greater dietary protein supply provided following a preconditioning vaccination protocol increased antibody production against BVDV-1b after 42 days of feedlot entry, which might enhance immune protection and decrease the future risk of developing bovine respiratory disease.



Arthington, J.D., R.F. Cooke, T.D. Maddock, D.B. Araujo, P. Moriel, N. DiLorenzo and G.C. Lamb. 2013. Effects of vaccination on the acute-phase protein response and measures of performance in growing beef calves. J. Anim. Sci. 91:1831-1837.

Bolin, S.R., and J.F. Ridpath. 1990. Range of viral neutralizing activity and molecular specificity of antibodies induced in cattle by inactivated bovine viral diarrhea virus-vaccines. Am. J. Vet. Res. 51:703-707.

Cooke, R.F., D.W. Bohnert, P. Moriel, B.W. Hess and R.R. Mills. 2011. Effects of polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on ruminal in situ forage degradability, performance and physiological responses of feeder cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 89:3677-3689.

Dai, G., and D.N. McMurray. 1998. Altered cytokine production and impaired antimycobacterial immunity in protein-malnourished guinea pigs. Infect. Immun. 66:3562-3568.

Fluharty, F.L., and S.C. Loerch. 1995. Effects of protein concentration and protein source on performance of newly arrived feedlot steers. J. Anim. Sci. 73:1585-1594.

Kirkpatrick, J.G., D.L. Step, M.E. Payton, J.B. Richards, L.F. McTague, J.T. Saliki, A.W. Confer, B.J. Cook, S.H. Ingram and J.C. Wright. 2008. Effect of age at the time of vaccination on antibody titers and feedlot performance in beef calves. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assn. 233:136-142.

Moriel, P., and J.D. Arthington. 2013. Metabolizable protein supply modulated the acute-phase response following vaccination of beef steers. J. Anim. Sci. 91(12):5838-5847.

Reeds, P.J., and F. Jahoor. 2001. The amino acid requirements of disease. Clin. Nutr. 20(Suppl. 1):15-22.

Richeson, J.T., P.A. Beck, M.S. Gadberry, S.A. Gunter, T.W. Hess, D.S. Hubbell III and C. Jones. 2008. Effects of on-arrival versus delayed modified live virus vaccination on health, performance and serum infectious bovine rhinotracheitis titers of newly received beef calves. J. Anim. Sci. 86:999-1005.

Salak-Johnson, J.L., and J.J. McGlone. 2007. Making sense of apparently conflicting data: Stress and immunity in swine and cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 85:E81-E88.

Waggoner, J.W., C.A. Loest, C.P. Mathis, D.M. Hallford and M.K. Petersen. 2009. Effects of rumen-protected methionine supplementation and bacterial lipopolysaccharide infusion on nitrogen metabolism and hormonal responses of growing beef steers. J. Anim. Sci. 87:681-692.

Volume:87 Issue:15

Antimicrobial resistance reviewed

Antimicrobial resistance reviewed

Antimicrobial resistance reviewed
TWO new reports from the Food & Drug Administration — the "2012 Retail Meat Report" and the "2013 Retail Meat Interim Report" — show mostly decreasing antimicrobial resistance trends.

FDA measures antimicrobial resistance in certain bacteria isolated from raw meat and poultry collected through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS).

Under NARMS, samples are collected from people, food-producing animals and retail meat sources and tested for bacteria — specifically non-typhoidal salmonella, campylobacter, Escherichia coli and enterococcus — to determine whether they are resistant to antibiotics used in human and veterinary medicine.

Although current cephalosporin resistance levels are above 2002 levels, a recent decrease in third-generation cephalosporin resistance among poultry meats continued in 2012 and 2013.

In 2012, NARMS tested a total of 345 salmonella isolates. Salmonella was isolated from 18% of retail chicken, 7% of ground turkey, 1% of ground beef and 1% of pork chop samples (Figure).

Resistance in salmonella from retail chicken declined from a peak of 38% in 2009 to 28% in 2012 and continued to decline to 20% in 2013. Resistance in ground turkey peaked in 2011 at 22% and declined to 18% in 2012, falling to 9% by 2013.

Salmonella from retail meats remained susceptible to ciprofloxacin, one of the most important antibiotics for treating salmonella infections. Similarly, salmonella from retail meats was susceptible to azithromycin, another important antibiotic recommended for treatment of salmonella and other intestinal pathogens.

While multi-drug-resistant salmonella (resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics) was detected in all retail meat sources, there was a continuous decline in the overall proportion of salmonella poultry isolates that were resistant to multiple drugs between 2011 and 2013.

In 2012, only 1% of C. jejuni from retail chicken was resistant to erythromycin, the drug of choice for treating campylobacter infections.

Dr. Ashley Peterson, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Chicken Council, said her group is pleased that the data continue to show many positive trends, including a decrease in resistance to several foodborne pathogens, and that first-line antibiotics remain effective in treating illnesses.

"Analyzing resistance patterns, as these reports do, is much more meaningful to public health outcomes than examining antibiotic sales data," Peterson added. "These reports provide a strong case that the continued judicious use of antibiotics by poultry and livestock producers is aiding in the reduction of resistance in various foodborne pathogens."

Dr. Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council, noted that the report shows low levels of bacteria on meat, and where bacteria were found, few were resistant to any antibiotics.

"This demonstrates that farmers and veterinarians are doing their part to address the issue of antibiotic resistance," Wagstrom said.

According to an FDA summary report released April 10 on antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals from 2009 to 2013, domestic sales and distribution of approved antimicrobials that are not currently medically important increased 14% overall but decreased 2% between 2012 and 2013. The 14% overall increase reflects a 19% increase in sales and distribution of ionophores.

In March, the Obama Administration released a $1.2 billion plan to slow the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The plan's primary purpose is to direct the federal government's activities addressing antibiotic resistance, but it also is designed to guide action by public health and health care professionals and veterinarians "in a common effort to address urgent and serious drug-resistant threats that affect people in the U.S. and around the world."

The President's funding request was not included in the recently passed budgets in the House and Senate, but the two chambers will now head to a conference committee, where changes still can be made.

Volume:87 Issue:15

Beef Tips: Keeping beef competitive an ongoing process

Beef Tips: Keeping beef competitive an ongoing process

*Dr. Nevil Speer serves as a private industry consultant. He is based in Bowling Green, Ky., and can be reached at [email protected]

THERE has been a quiet, steady transformation under way in the beef industry. The shift stems from a broad commitment to improved quality and consistency across the business.

Those efforts are culminating in significant fashion, perhaps most apparent being the industry's trend in U.S. Department of Agriculture quality grade over time.

Of particular interest is a new milestone established in February. The weekly fed cattle slaughter mix quality grade performance surpassed 75% Choice and Prime, combined, for the first time in many years. Historically, the last time the industry managed that type of performance was in the early 1970s.

While 2015 marks an important milestone with respect to grading, the shift is not a new phenomenon.

From a broader perspective, Feedstuffs contributor Dr. Larry Corah explained the overall situation best in his recent observations about the industry:

"Starting in 1976, (the beef industry) entered a 30-year decline in the percentage of Prime- and Choice-grading cattle. Sadly, but not surprisingly, that was accompanied by a decline in beef demand that left the industry in a weakened state of decline," Corah said. "Eventually, consumer demand signals for better beef started to make their way to the ranch, and quality grades ended that long slide in 2006, when barely half of fed cattle could grade Choice or Prime (51.7%); three years later, that had improved to 56.2%."

Over time, the grading divergence has made a real impact on what's ultimately coming out of the industry's sales coolers. Since 2000, Choice and Prime tonnage has increased by nearly 2 billion lb., while tonnage of Select and no-roll product has declined by 3 billion lb.

The outcome equates to real revenue: The percentage of total beef sales accounted for by the Prime and branded categories combined recently surpassed sales of Select product.

As I alluded to, the beef industry has been highly focused on making advancements for several decades. That has occurred primarily through clearer price signals and more effective incentives upstream to the production sector.

The market signals have successfully incentivized producers to hit key targets. That, subsequently, has caused strategic changes in terms of both genetics and management in an effort to capture value on the other end.

The beef complex has seemingly established an effective, self-reinforcing, virtuous loop. Production of higher-quality, more desirable products establishes better demand, and in turn, that demand generates price signals to generate even more product geared towards the top end.

That is clearly making a difference. Getting more cattle to the top end of the quality grade curve generally means better, more consistent beef products, and fundamentally, that keeps consumers coming back to beef (versus competing proteins).

Consumers are opting to buy more beef products that demand a price premium because they like it, and because of that, they've become even more likely to make repeat purchases while also becoming promoters (versus detractors) of the products.

That reality has driven the industry's pricing power to new heights in recent years — which has been nothing short of astonishing.

To that point, we need to look no further than what occurred last year in the beef business. My previous column — "Consumer Focus Helps Keep Beef on a Tear" (Feedstuffs, Feb. 16) — noted that as we look back on 2014 and the beef industry's success in garnering higher prices, the inherent question is, "How was that even possible?"

Primarily, it's because the beef industry has worked hard to ensure ongoing improvement in terms of quality, consistency and marketing channel precision. The pragmatic evidence is compelling. The endeavor to refocus on the consumer is paying huge dividends and translating into real dollars coming back into the business.

Having said all of that, the industry can't afford to rest in its current accomplishments. The de-commoditization moat around the beef business is getting bigger, but it's not impenetrable.

Maintaining competiveness is an ongoing process. The protein business is highly competitive, and the competitors are relentless (like in all industries).

Going forward, the industry's supply chain will have to continue to be progressive and innovative — becoming even more efficient and responsive in order to maximize the price/value relationship of beef products in the marketplace.

Volume:87 Issue:15

Sorghum silage suitable sub for corn silage

Sorghum silage suitable sub for corn silage

AS spring arrives, it may be time to start planning the production of feedstuffs for cattle to consume next winter. Forage sorghum offers a variety of benefits that help secure its place as one of those key feedstuffs.

"Interest in forage sorghum is definitely on the rise," John Holman, Kansas State University Research & Extension agronomist, said. "There is a lot of interest in general to supply cow/calf, feedlot and dairy industries in the region."

The growing interest is, in part, due to the versatility of forage sorghums, he said. Other advantages of sorghum include that it needs less water than some other traditional forage crops and, when managed correctly, may contain high-quality nutrients for cattle.

"Depending on what the producer's goal is, with sorghum, we have the ability to graze, hay or put it into silage," Holman said. "It's one of the advantages of sorghum, with all of the different sorghum types that are available. Once a producer identifies what his or her goal is, then we can select a sorghum type and variety to match the grower's needs."

Indeed, sorghum silage can provide an alternative to corn silage, but not all sorghum silages are the same, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists Ellen Jordan and Ted McCollum, who recently spoke at a sorghum educational meeting in Dimmitt, Texas.

McCollum said forages have nutritional and functional roles in beef and dairy diets. Functionally, roughages are necessary to stimulate rumination, which promotes feed breakdown and also reduces acidosis.

Sorghum provides an alternative, especially in areas where rainfall is short, allowing for sustained production in drought conditions and for delayed planting, if necessary, Jordan said. The plant also utilizes water more efficiently than corn and has high biomass yields.

"One limitation to sorghum silage fed to cattle is that the digestibility is generally less than that of corn, because corn has less lignin and more grain," she said. "This can result in less fiber digestion, a lower dry matter intake and less milk produced in dairy cattle."

However, brown mid-rib (BMR) genotypes of sorghum contain less lignin, on average, and offer a higher digestibility, McCollum said, but the BMR genotype alone is not a guarantee of better quality.

Producers have several options when it comes to selecting a sorghum type, and it is dependent on animal use, he said.

Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids have coarser stems and broader leaves than true sudangrass. They are higher yielders than sudangrass, with better regrowth for grazing or multiple harvests. The BMR forage sorghums are lower in lignin content in the leaves and stalks, and the quality, on average, is better than for conventional sorghums, McCollum explained.

Photoperiod-sensitive sorghums are very tall and remain in the vegetative state until day length is less than 12 hours and 20 minutes, which provides more flexibility in managing the harvest of the crop. However, McCollum said, they are slow to dry down and have to be swathed. They also tend to have the lowest feed value of all the different types.

"What you are going to do with it will determine the sorghum silage you choose," he said. "For steers eating an 80-90% silage diet, you might pick the BMRs, but if it is a dry dairy cow that needs to be fed, you can grow the lower-quality, photoperiod-sensitive forage sorghum.

"If I'm looking for energy value in my forage, I'm going to go to a BMR," McCollum added. "Pick a variety based on the desired fiber, tonnage, quality and starch. Use fiber quality as the primary criteria."

A concern when feeding whole-plant forage sorghum silage is the low starch digestibility of the kernels, which are often too hard and unprocessed, he said.

"So, if you want to ensure better starch availability in the sorghum silage, get out into the field and cut it early," he said. "If you can't process the grain head, you need to harvest early and then leave it in the (silage) pit for as long as possible, because time, moisture and kernel softness are your best aids."

McCollum said the key to using sorghum silage instead of corn silage is to replace the corn silage on a fiber basis and not on a dry matter basis.

Important management steps to increase sorghum silage quality are:

* Harvest early — in the soft-dough stage at the latest.

* Target dry matter at 32-36%.

* Swath, if necessary, to obtain the correct moisture.

* Chop at about a half-inch.

* Make sure the storage site is sloped to divert any water.

Jordan said BMR sorghum silage has been shown to support levels of production in mid-lactation dairy cows. It must be harvested and ensiled properly, and producers should use inoculants per the manufacturer's directions to improve dry matter preservation and bunk life.

She said sorghum silage should be okay for use in dry cow and heifer rations, although the research hasn't been done. More research is also needed on early-lactation cows.

"If processed using steam flaking, sorghum and corn grain can be equal in starch value," Jordan said. "Sorghum can be an alternative to corn. It allows sustained production in drought."



The question of how to make beef healthier for consumption purposes has been addressed by Inmaculada Gomez-Bastida in her doctoral thesis, read at the NUP/UPNA-University of Navarre in Spain.

When ingredients rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, like flaxseeds, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) were added to the food of male Holstein calves, the animals' fat was modified, achieving an increase in omega-3 fatty acids and CLA — regarded as being beneficial for health — and a reduction in saturated fatty acids linked to cardiovascular disease.

"Adding flaxseeds and CLA to the diet of calves could constitute an alternative that will improve the nutritional and organoleptic quality of beef, thus leading to healthier foods," Gomez explained.

What's more, it could help the beef sector compete more effectively.

To conduct the research, 48 male Holstein calves were fed four enriched experimental diets (12 animals were assigned to each diet type). When they were slaughtered, samples were analyzed, and it was found that the level of saturated fatty acids had been reduced, while the omega-3s and CLA were increased, thus improving the nutritional quality of the meat.

Later on, meat-based products (of the hamburger type) were produced. "These new products consisting of meat enriched with omega-3 and CLA displayed the same technological suitability as traditional meat. We carried out a study with consumers in three cities, and the enriched meat was preferred to the traditional meat," Gomez said.

"As the conclusions to the thesis point out, enriching the (calves') diets with 10% flaxseed and 2% CLA did not affect either the production parameters or the metabolism of the adipose tissue and improved the fatty acid profile of the meat, thus bringing it more into line with the nutritional requirements of consumers," she said. At the same time, "the organoleptic quality" of the enriched meat "had improved in terms of consumer preferences and displayed good technological suitability."

Finally, making these modifications to the diet of the calves "can improve the nutritional and sensory quality of the meat without negatively affecting the animal's metabolism or the technological suitability of the meat obtained."

Volume:87 Issue:15