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Beef is main course at producer forum

By Staff | Feb 8, 2015

ERIKA LUNDY, of the ISU Iowa Beef Center, explains the various corn by-products from ethanol that are being tested for nutritional value for cattle.

SIOUX CENTER – Feedlot Forum 2015 had more than 200 cattlemen and other ag business people in a pretty good mood as they took in presentations on feed made from alternative corn co-products, the growing demand for beef in China, fairly static high beef market prices, and discussions on research asking whether pain medication during procedures such as dehorning and castration would be a benefit to producers.

The participants learned from Iowa State University School of Veterinary’s Hans Coetzee that a recent study showed cattle given one inexpensive dose of Meloxicam, a mild prescription muscle relaxer, before being shipped, lost less weight in transport than those that did not get the relaxer.

He said one dose is enough for three days’ travel and leaves the cattle’s bodies before slaughter.

A good market

The forum, held Jan. 22 at Sioux Center, focused largely on changes impacting Northwest Iowa feedlot producers and world markets.

Topics included cattle nutrition, manure management, cattle management and market prices now and in the future.

Andrew Gottschalk, who lives in Aurora, Colo., is the owner of Hedgers Edge and is a senior vice president for RJ O’Brien and Associates, a Chicago-based company.

He offered a detailed overview of the international beef market and discussed why prices are staying abnormally high despite plentiful supplies.

In a word: China.

Gottschalk said beef is a good market right now but is just on pace, not racing ahead.

He said the price of beef at the consumers’ retail meat counter (even in the U.S.) is high because the wholesale price is also high.

That’s due to a growing demand for beef worldwide, especially in the gigantic Chinese market, which Gottschalk put at 1.4 billion people.

As that country’s economy and wages grow, more people are able to afford beef, he said.

One of his graphs showed that the Chinese now eat four times more meat overall than 30 years ago. Compared to 2000, China consumes 37 percent more pork, 23 percent more chicken and just a bit more beef.

However, Chinese beef consumption rose about 15 percent in 2007-08, but settled back at just 2 percent more in 2012 than in 2000.

“The point is,” Gottschalk aid, “if we can just keep pace with the population growth, that’s growth for you.

“You are going to offer the best beef in the world. You have to understand the (Chinese) culture. You are going to have to understand how to do business.”

Cattlemen power

Kristina Butts, executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, stressed the U.S. political climate.

Butts is a chief lobbyist for the beef industry. She urged every producer to go to Washington to visit elected representatives and senators.

Or, perhaps more effectively, she said, spend time developing relationships with Congressional members’ staffs.

The staffers do the legwork on researching, writing and pushing legislation on their Congress members’ behalf, she said.

Corn power

Erika Lundy, who does research at ISU’s Iowa Beef Center, said she studies the nutritional value of new corn coproducts resulting from advanced refining of corn by-products left from the manufacture of ethanol.

“Eighty-five percent of ethanol plants are doing more with distiller’s grain,” Lundy said. “Our crude protein is not much different (from ethanol production).

The Quad County and Galva ethanol plants produce the additional products, putting the ethanol through a second, whole stillage pretreatment, fermentation and distillation process, called Cellerate.

The process is currently being tested with cracked corn and fine-ground corn, Lundy said.

The hope is that more ethanol by-products can be formulated for more nutritious animal feed.

Lundy told producers that new ethanol by-products are going to be varied.

She directed producers to a series of ISU Extension fact sheets, titled, “Ethanol Coproducts for Beef Cattle.”

They are available at any area Extension office.

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