Beef’s Greatest Talent Is Protein Upcycling
Lacey Newlin, High Plains Journal | January 7, 2020
“There are some really highly educated people out there who are actively against the beef industry,” said Tryon Wickersham, associate professor of animal nutrition at Texas A&M University. “I don’t think there is going to be anything we can do to change that. I think they will be against everything we do, no matter how we do it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mount a defense or stop educating the consumers about the value we bring to their plates.”
Wickersham spoke recently at the Oklahoma State University Beef Conference in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in a presentation called “Beef’s job title.” He says beef’s job title is to be a protein upcycler, which means to improve the value of protein.
Wickersham says, on average, it takes 770 pounds of corn to get a beef animal ready for slaughter. Corn is the primary source of human edible protein, or HEP, we feed and the main competition for food sources between cattle and humans. HEP does not necessarily mean tasty protein, but it is protein a person could consume. For example, grass is a source of non-HEP. Soybean meal, though we would not want to consume it, is a great source of HEP. Some people challenge agriculture for raising corn-fed cattle and believe we should be feeding all that corn to humans.
Managing Heat Stress with Genetics
Wes Ishmael, BEEF Magazine | Mar 01, 2020
“A lot of times we talk about hair shedding being an indicator trait for heat tolerance,” says Jared Decker, Extension beef genetics and computational genomics specialist at the University of Missouri (MU). “I think of it more as an economically relevant trait because if a cow is not taking off her winter coat, she’s simply not prepared to deal with the heat and humidity.”
Overall, Decker says environmental stress costs the U.S. beef industry more than $1 billion each year. Stressors include cold and high elevations, but he says a major portion of the losses stem from stress associated with heat and/or fescue toxicity.
Besides the economic factor, Decker told participants at this year’s Cattlemen’s College, sponsored by Zoetis, environmental stress on cattle threatens sustainability in other ways, too.
“We have to make sure we are producing cattle in a way that has environmental stewardship, cattle with efficiency, and we need to make sure that we’re responding to social responsibility, raising beef in a way that consumers are comfortable. Finally, we must have profitability,” Decker explains.
“Environmental stress touches on all of those points. If animals are better adapted to the environment, they’re going to be more efficient in that environment and they’re going to have less environmental impact. If an animal is comfortable and dealing better with the environment, they have better animal welfare, so our consumers can feel comfortable. Finally, if we identify cattle better suited to the environment, they’re simply going to be more profitable.”
This article has been a long time coming. We have seen finger pointing for decades – finally people are waking up to the fact that if you want change to take place, the people you need to be working with are the agents of the change you hope to see; in the case of Brazil that must include the landowners. Aliança da Terra have been doing this for years, and thanks to their way of working closely with producers are one of the organisations most trusted by producers there.
Saving the Amazon: How Cattle Ranchers Can Halt Deforestation
Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor | March 4, 2020
Brazil is a leader in forest protection. Its Forest Code requires that up to 80% of a landowner’s property in the Amazon biome be preserved as forest, depending on when it was purchased and how big it is. As environmental pressure has grown over the years, those laws have been more rigorously enforced. The government implemented an environmental registry for each property that maps who owns what and what is produced, and uses satellite imagery to monitor deforestation.
“The problem is we have a lot of producers of cattle or soybean close to or in the Amazon that are not burning. They are suffering. They are considered the same as deforesters,” says Charton Locks, the chief operating officer of Aliança da Terra, which works to foster sustainable farming in Brazil. “For the international community, it’s all the same. Companies start to avoid buying products from Brazil, which creates a problem for the good producers.”
So Aliança da Terra is trying to differentiate the good farmers. It has built a “Producing Right” platform of 1,500 members, representing more than 5 million hectares of farmland, who adhere to preserving forest, protecting wildlife, and improving social and labor conditions on their ranches.
Coronavirus Dents Beef Demand, But China Will Still Dominate 2020 Imports, Says Rabo
Beef Central | February 27, 2020
Recent widespread rainfall has buoyed Australian beef producer spirits and lifted cattle prices, but the sector faces reduced export demand from China as a result of coronavirus, according to Rabobank’s latest global Beef Quarterly report.
In its Q1 report, Rabo expects China to again dominate beef imports in 2020, albeit at a far slower rate than the heady 60 percent increase in imported volume recorded in 2019.
Rabobank senior animal proteins analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said while it was hard to predict how long coronavirus would disrupt the Chinese market, lower sales volumes and limited cash flows would delay a return to normal beef imports in the short term.
“We do, however, expect China’s beef imports to continue to grow in 2020, with a strong rebound in the second half of the year,” he said.