November 17, 2014

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to Doc Talk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Kansas State University. I’m glad that you joined the show. And today joining me on my show is the feedlot class here, the Advanced Feedlot Production Medicine class, 4th year veterinary students from Kansas State, Washington State and beyond. Today’s show is gonna be great. We have Dr. Tiffany Lee and we’re gonna talk about marketing cull cows. Stay tuned and enjoy the show.

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(Dan) Welcome to the show. (Tiffany) Thanks. (Dan) Hey folks, welcome to Doc Talk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Kansas State University and my guest today is Dr. Tiffany Lee, who’s a veterinarian, who is also employed at the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinarian Medicine. And today we’re gonna talk about market cows and market bulls, but specifically market cows. And we have changed the terminology and I think that’s something that people need to understand and start utilizing
more within the industry. We used to say cull cows. (Tiffany) Yep. (Dan) But really these animals are being sifted, these animals are being selected and they are going to market. And they are a pretty viable source of animal protein. (Tiffany) Oh yeah. I mean a lot of the cuts that we see in restaurants, on the grocery store shelves, they come from market cows. And it’s very good beef. It’s very lean beef, and we have to remember that it is a very good source of our animal protein. (Dan) When we take a look at some of the NCBA beef quality audits and we looked at 15-20 years ago when only 50 percent of the market cow slaughter facilities were cutting out the middle meat, such as steaks and whole muscle roast and everything, 50 percent basically were doing that, and 50 percent were going to hamburger. Today we’re at 85 percent out slaughtering for those middle meats. But we need to understand that it still represents a very small proportion and it’s going to nitch markets, not necessarily just something that’s blended in with the rest of the industry. (Tiffany) Sure, yep. I agree. (Dan) Because when we do our USDA quality grades one of the big things is age. (Tiffany) Uh huh. (Dan) And so the younger age animals can qualify, when we get into the cows, we’re getting into the cutter and canner and those types of quality grades which we don’t see necessarily. So, talk to me a little bit about some of the work that you’re been doing here at the BCI in conjunction with the industry looking at animal welfare when issues in market cows when they’re presented at slaughter. (Tiffany) We’ve done a little bit of work just looking at market cows coming into slaughter facilities and seeing if there are any welfare problems present when they get to the slaughter facilities. Recently there was a survey done of 80,000 head of market cows which is a very large amount and we looked at welfare issues that we may or may not see at different slaughter facilities within the United States. (Dan) What were some of those welfare issues that were measured? (Tiffany) There was a total of ten different we could call them defects, I guess, welfare issues. Body condition score, udder conditions, lameness, non-ambulatory animals because those have been addressed in the past and other things like that. (Dan) OK. Well when you took a broad scope across this survey, what were some of the issues that popped up the most? (Tiffany) The ones that popped up the most were the three that I just mentioned, body condition score, udder conditions and lameness. (Dan) And I’m assuming that since there’s udder condition score that there was beef and dairy animals. (Tiffany) That’s correct. (Dan)Graded. (Tiffany) Yes. (Dan) And I’m gonna make the assumption that the udder was more of an issue in the dairy than what we would see in beef. (Tiffany) You would think, not necessarily, there are some dual purpose animals out there that can have some udder condition problems as well. (Dan) Cool. Well, let’s take a break. (Tiffany) OK. (Dan) And when we come back from break I want to get more into the kind of the description of some of these issues that we’ve seen and then talk about some of the risks associated on the farm and some of the things that we can do to prevent having those show up at slaughter. (Tiffany) Sure. (Dan) Thanks for being here. Thanks for watching Doc Talk. We’re gonna take a break and we’ll be back right after this.

(Dan) Hey folks Dr. Dan Thomson here from Kansas State University with Dr. Tiffany Lee who’s a veterinarian. And she is a researcher at the Beef Cattle Institute where we are looking at some research at market cows coming into slaughter facilities and basically when we left for break we were talking about body condition scores, udder scores and lameness. Now, what exactly when we start to see these types of conditions, you know, these are animals that still pass anti-mortem inspection, what is the purpose of going in and looking at these types of defects or issues that we see in these cows. I hate to say defects cause these are still perfectly viable animals that are entering the market chain. But why take a look? Or why raise the awareness? (Tiffany) I think the biggest reason why is because some of these things do pose a risk to the welfare of the animals. So, if you have an extremely emaciated animal coming in, that can be a welfare issue. If you have an udder that impedes walking, if she steps on the teats that can be a welfare issue as well. (Dan) So now, let’s, you know there’s another thing that I think that I guess when I am looking at body condition score we… there are points in time with cheap grain and things to that nature that maybe our farmers or ranchers are maybe leaving some money on the table as well and selling an animal that maybe isn’t as profitable. And maybe the potential of feeding some of these market cows to gain weight and to move up some of these market cow quality grades that set forth by USDA to make a little bit more money. And one of the things folks that we always recommend is work with your local practitioner, work with your local veterinarian, design the program that best fits your operation, the practicality and the economics and the welfare of your cattle. (Tiffany) Yeah, definitely. (Dan) So with body condition score, what do you think are some of things that are going on with body condition score and basically when we’re talking about 20 percent of the animals being marketed from out of the cows being marketed out of the cow herd representing revenue, what was the percentage of some of the issues with body condition score? (Tiffany) Well, as far as in for example, beef animals in the United States, the prevalence of the decreased body condition score in the survey that we did, was about 5.6 percent. (Dan) OK. So, 5 percent of 20 percent, so basically you know, we’re starting to get down into a pretty small amount. (Tiffany) It is. (Dan) But when we have an industry as integrated and as the infrastructure we have, it is pretty cool when you can say that, go out to the public and say, you know these animals are being pretty well taken care of. (Tiffany) I believe, I believe they are, yes. (Dan) I think this is one of those thing that you know, it sounds like it’s a big deal. (Tiffany) Yes. (Dan) But when you get down to 5 percent of 20 percent that’s what? Point four percent? (Tiffany) It’s not a lot. And when you look at the survey overall you know, we didn’t see a lot of defect. Ninety seven, almost 97 percent of the animals came in with zero, zero problems. That is very good. (Dan) And so I think that celebrating the beef industry, celebrating the the survey that you all have done. But understanding that even the best football team wants to get a little bit better everyday, is something that we do in the beef industry every day. (Tiffany) Yeah. (Dan) We’re gonna take a break. When we come back. More with Doc Talk with Dr. Tiffany Lee. See you in a minute.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Tiffany Lee and we’re from the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University and we’re talking about market cows out of beef and dairy herds. And when we talk about market cows, what are some of the reasons why cows are marketed? (Tiffany) Well you know, we can always go out and talk to producers and see why they remove cows from their herds, however there is some published data as well that we’ve seen that tells us that the top few reasons that cows are removed from the herd, the biggest one are reproductive issues, most of the time when… (Dan) Open cows. (Tiffany) Open cows basically, yeah. (Dan) Not bred. (Tiffany) Not bred. And we see a lot of those in the fall at this time. Other issues were feet and leg problems causing lameness, things like that in both beef and dairy herds. And a big one is udder confirmation, in the dairies mastitis was a big one as well. (Da) So, other ones can be disposition. (Tiffany) Oh yes. (Dan) And animals that are not, you know, cooperative, problem animals. But the big one going far and away is gonna be reproductive issues. The other thing recently across the United States, that I think a lot of people could relate to is drought conditions. (Tiffany) Oh yes. (Dan) And if we don’t have grasslands, if we have drought like we’ve seen in California, we’ve seen in Texas, we’ve seen in the western United States, we’ve seen in Kansas and beyond over the last three or four years, drought conditions have really played a role in a lot of these cows being marketed out of the herds. (Tiffany) And I think that it has played a role in these cows being marketed our of the herds at different times of the year. And so not just when you go and have your cows preg checked. Maybe earlier in the year, during the summer when it’s hotter and if you have those drought conditions there is not gonna be as much pasture land that you can use. (Dan) Right. And so if we can’t feed ’em and that may roll into some of the things that we’ve seen with body condition score in the United States, relative to other parts of the world and realizing one thing on the survey and things that we’ve looked at, is that it’s a snap shot in time. (Tiffany) I agree. (Dan) But reproduction issues, lameness issues, as far as injury or illness issues lameness is probably the most prevalent for beef cows being called. But even then there are ways to treat those animals and keep them in the herd. But decreased reproductive performance, decreased production are the biggies and the drought recently. (Tiffany) Hum huh. And I really think that you… with your decreased reproductive performance if you are removing those cows from the herd most of the time there is a reason that they don’t have the fertility that they should. And sometimes it might be because of an external factor, maybe there wasn’t as much grass and they are a little bit thinner, therefore they didn’t get bred as quickly. (Dan) And we can get into some of the infectious agents folks, such as BVD, lepto and different things to that nature. (Tiffany) Trich has been a big issue. (Dan) Trichomoniasis has been a big issue. But BVD, trich, lepto are the three biggies. Again, if you’re having a bunch of open cows you need to get with your veterinarian. Relatively speaking we would expect from the time we preg check to the time the cows calve, about two to three percent abortion rate. Normal. But if you start to approach that five to seven to ten percent then probably have an infectious disease problem going on and you need to get that checked out. (Tiffany) Yes. Your veterinarian can help you check that out. Just work with them and they’ll do whatever they can to help you out with that. (Dan) Cool. When we come back from break we’re gonna talk about prevention of some of these problems. You’re watching Doc Talk and we’re sure glad you joined us.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, Dr. Dan Thomson, Dr. Tiffany Lee and we’re talking about market cows out of the dairy and beef cattle herds which represent about 20 percent of the gross revenue for a beef rancher or cow/calf production unit. When we started to talk with Dr. Lee we’ve talked about some of the things, some of the defects, even though we do a wonderful job and 80-90 percent of the loads of cattle that come into our slaughter facilities of market cows have no defects at all. And then a small percentage of them have some and the leading defects were body condition score, udder condition and lameness and we’re talking about less than a percent of the cattle out there of the cows presented from our beef and dairy herds. So, first of all, thank you to our beef and dairy producers for doing a wonderful job. (Tiffany) Yes, yes. (Dan) We then talked about the reasons why animals were culled, reproductive performance and disposition and lameness were some of the issues. So, tell me as a producer, beef or dairy what are some of the things I need to prevent these things from showing up or these winding up being in our cow herds. (Tiffany) Sure, I think there’s a number of things that we can work on, those include having a good health care plan along with your veterinarian, so have a good relationship with your veterinarian. Hopefully most of you all do. I always have. (Dan) The veterinary/client/patient relationship. (Tiffany) Yes. And I know that with my clients I always had a very good relationship, so I was very happy about that. I think another thing is to work with your veterinarian and see if there’s animals that might have to go. Don’t wait, work with your veterinarian and make sure that they’re going at the right time. (Dan) And explain a little bit about that, about what the right time is because the training people and having that eye to determine when to send those animals is important. (Tiffany) Definitely. You know if you’ve got an animal that you think might be a little bit thin and she came up open maybe, instead of maybe saying, maybe I’ll just wait a little bit, you probably want to send her then because you have to think if she’s just a little bit thin she maybe in a negative energy balance and you might be, you have to remember that she still has to make the trip to the sale or the slaughter facility and that could be an extended amount of time decreasing that energy balance even more and causing her to be a little bit even thinner when she gets to where ever she’s going. (Dan) So, if you’re not gonna feed these animals for condition, for body condition, which you know it’s about 70 pounds on a cow equals one body condition. So, if you’re gonna feed for body condition to gain 70 pounds to go to increase those, then you probably need to ship ’em as soon as possible. (Tiffany) I think so. I do think so. And if you have any with udder conditions or things like that, that you think I don’t know if I should ship her? If there is a question you probably do want to ship her, just so that we can make sure that she has good welfare the whole time that she’s going to the sale facility. (Dan) Great. Well, thanks for being on the show. Thanks for watching the show. When it comes to cull cows or market cows, the big thing is as Temple Grandin said, Don’t send half dead cows to the plant. Let’s make sure that we’re sending a quality animal that we want to be proud of to present to the public. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson thanks for watching Doc Talk. Remember always work with your local veterinarian and make sure that… if you want to find out what Dr. Lee and I do here at K-State you can find us on the web at www.vet.ksu.edu. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson; you’ve been watching Doc Talk this morning. We’re sure glad you joined us and I’ll see you down the road.

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