Thursday, February 8, 2018

DOT Enforcement Chief Wants to Work with Livestock Industry on ELD - Wyatt Bechtel February 7, 2018 09:27 AM

An enforcement chief for the Department of Transportation said commenting and petitioning the hours of service that are backed by the electronic logging device (ELD) rule are necessary for any changes to the mandate. ( Wyatt Bechtel )
Electronic logging devices (ELD) have yet to be fully implemented by livestock haulers, but their time could be coming soon. Most commercial truckers have been using ELDs for nearly two months as part of the MAP-21 mandate enforced by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
During the Live Cattle Marketing Committee held by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an update was given on the ELD in Phoenix on Feb. 2. An ELD monitors drive time for truckers and eliminates the need for log books. The industry has many questions about ELDs and how it impact hours of service, says Bill Mahorney, enforcement division chief for FMCSA.
The rules went into effect on Dec. 18, 2017, for most commercial truckers. A 90-day delay was imposed by FMCSA on the same date for livestock transporters to participate in a comment period for the agency to better evaluate issues with the mandate. Livestock haulers will need ELDs starting April 1 if they plan to do long hauls and the comment period has been extended to Feb. 20.
“If anyone tells you the hours of service change is a result of this (ELD rules) don’t believe them,” Mahorney says. “The hours of service regulation are the same as they were before. The electronic logging device only monitors what the actual hours of service on your vehicle is.”
Truckers have an hours of service limit of 11 hours of driving in a 24 hour period. Drivers can be on-duty a total of 14 hours consecutively, including the 11 hours of drive time. After 11 hours are reached, drivers must rest and be off-duty for 10 consecutive hours. Exemptions are in place for agriculture hauls within a 150 mile radius and for drivers who only drive eight days in a 30 day period.
Prior to the ELD drivers filled out paper logs. Using paper logs offered some flexibility where truckers might change the hours of service when needed. This was against the law, but was difficult to enforce. With an ELD there is no way to adjust the hours of service should something unforeseen happen during a haul.
In Mahorney’s role his goal is to ensure that rules, like the ELD, are enforced in a uniform manner across the country. However, he wants to work with livestock haulers and producers to find a solution to implementing the ELD with hours of service.

Cattlemen Concerned

A number of cattlemen in attendance at the committee meeting expressed concern to Mahorney of how enforcement of hours of service with ELDs could impact their operations.
Miles City, MT, rancher Fred Wacker questioned how inclement weather could impact the hours of service for a driver. Under the hours of service a trucker can get a few additional hours to drive when weather like ice extends the drive time.
“A couple hours may not be enough. You’ve got live animals on board. They need feed, they need water,” Wacker says. “I think there needs to be more flexibility.”
Wacker expressed interest in how using a team of drivers would work, too. If using a team of drivers with one driving and the other riding as a passenger, the hours of service would not apply to the passenger until they start driving and enter their unique identifier.
A point of interest that came to light for many in attendance was an exemption for hours of service that applies to the movie industry.
“Yes, the movie industry does have a limited exemption for hours of service,” Mahorney says.
“Why are they (movies) more important than hauling food?” Wacker asked. The question was met with a round of applause.
Mahorney expressed that livestock producers and haulers need to make comments to express their concerns and a petition for the hours of service could be made with enough interest.
Animal health and welfare has been a worry for Clint Berry, a rancher from Gainesville, MO.
“Unlike a load of steel, coal or electronics, we need some flexibility for the care of those animals,” Berry says.
Transporting cattle to the feedlot regions of the U.S. from cow-calf areas like the Southeast and West is difficult to do in the 11 hour period of drive time.
“We will have dead cattle on the side of the highway,” Berry cautions if flexible hours of service are not added because drivers would need to park for extended periods of time.
One option to prevent a catastrophe like this from happening is to unload the cattle, but that opens up other issues.
Berry says there are two major problems with the proposal to unload cattle at pens midway through a haul to rest: those facilities don’t exist and biosecurity.
“All of those things drive up the cost on our cattle,” Berry says. “As you enforce these rules those cattle that lie outside of that barrier (11 hours from feedlots) are going to have an incredible price deduction put on them. Buyers cannot simply bid on cattle that are 17 hours away.”
Mahorney says these types of comments are why the 90 day extension was placed on ELD implementation for livestock haulers.
“Facts will get you a long way when you are dealing with a petition,” Mahorney says. “If you don’t petition you won’t get anything.”

reprinted from Drovers Newsletter

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Safety Considerations for Hay Baling Season By Kent McGuire, Ohio State University June 07, 2017

As we progress into summer, hay baling moves to the forefront of things to be done on the farm. Hay baling season can come with its own set of hazards that can cause injuries. These include equipment hazards, working in hot temperatures, lifting injuries, and even the stress of getting hay down, dried and baled in a narrow window to beat the weather. Some guidelines to use to prevent injuries this hay baling season include:
• Review the owner’s manual and warning labels of the equipment prior to operation.
• Make sure that all guards and shields are in place for the tractor and hay harvesting equipment.
• Ensure that safety locks are in place when working on the baler while the bale chamber is open.
• Make sure twine is properly threaded and the knotter system and twine arm are in good working condition. Do not feed twine by hand into the baler.
• Equip the tractor with a 10-pound dry chemical (ABC) fire extinguisher.
• When operating the baler, do not leave the tractor seat until the power take-off (PTO) is disengaged and the flywheel or other moving parts have completely stopped.
• Stay clear of power take-off, pick up area, auger or feeder forks while a baler is in operation.
• Maintain proper settings and speed. Travel at a speed that allows the baler to handle the size of the windrow.
• NEVER try to unplug the baler until the power take-off is disengaged and the tractor’s engine is shut off.
• Make sure wagons are securely hitched to the drawbar by using a safety pin and a safety chain.
• When baling on uneven or hilly terrain, travel slowly and avoid holes, drop-offs and ejecting bales that may roll down a slope.
• Avoid sudden movements when operating the tractor. Workers can be thrown or fall off the wagon platform and be run over by the machine.
• Make sure workers do not ride on top of the wagon stack.
• Keep the bale close to the ground when moving bales with a front-end loader.
• When hauling bales with a wagon or trailer, use a tractor or truck large enough to handle or stop the weight of the load.
• When transporting bales on a public roadway, properly secure the bales on the wagon or trailer by using straps.
• Tractors, harvesting equipment and all wagons should be equipped with a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem.
• When assisting with hitching wagons, keep visual contact and communicate with the operator at all times. Leave yourself an escape route.
• Chock the wheels on wagons that could move or roll.
• Be aware of the stack condition, bales falling off the stack can strike a worker and result in a serious injury.
• Be aware of workers throwing the bales. Bales can bounce or roll striking another worker.
• Use proper lifting techniques when lifting, carrying, or stacking bales.
• When working in hot temperatures and haymows with no air movement, take several breaks and stay hydrated with water.
For more information about the OSU Ag Safety visit or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-0588.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

EPA Sends WOTUS Withdrawal Notice to OMB By American Farm Bureau Federation

The Environmental Protection Agency earlier this week sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget a proposal to withdraw the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, setting in motion an OMB review. Following the interagency review, a proposed rule to withdraw WOTUS will be published in the Federal Register, with a deadline for submission of public comments.
EPA’s action comes a few months after President Donald Trump issued an executive order to ditch the rule. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said Trump’s action was a “welcome relief to farmers and ranchers across the country.”
“The Environmental Protection Agency failed to listen to farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns when drafting the rule and instead created widespread confusion for agriculture. Under the rule, the smallest pond or ditch could be declared a federal waterway,” Duvall said in a statement regarding the WOTUS executive order.

Farm Bureau supports EPA’s withdrawal of the 2015 rule and is urging the agency to replace it with one that conforms to the regulatory limits approved by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Scimetrics Ltd Corp withdraws Texas registration of Kaput Feral Hog Bait

News provided by
Scimetrics Ltd. Corp.
24 Apr, 2017, 17:07 ET

WELLINGTON, Colo., April 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Scimetrics Ltd. Corp. has withdrawn its registration of Kaput Feral Hog Bait in the state of Texas. We have received tremendous support from farmers and ranchers in the State of Texas, and have empathy for the environmental devastation, endangered species predation, and crop damage being inflicted there by a non-native animal. However, under the threat of many lawsuits, our family owned company cannot at this time risk the disruption of our business and continue to compete with special interests in Texas that have larger resources to sustain a lengthy legal battle.
The Kaput Feral Hog Bait label has been approved by the U.S. EPA, which requires meeting stringent testing and documentation requirements. To meet these high standards, many years of work have gone into developing and proving the safety and effectiveness of Kaput Feral Hog Bait. We had hoped to provide this valuable new resource to the farmers of Texas, whose crops and land have been devastated by the estimated 2.5 million feral hogs in the state. We had also hoped to alleviate the risk posed by the many diseases these hogs carry being transmitted to both the livestock and the food supply of Texas, by offering an alternative solution to current programs that cannot keep up with the quickly growing feral hog population.
Unfortunately, we have discontinued our attempts to provide this resource in Texas at this time. We are grateful for the support we have received from the agricultural community of Texas.

SOURCE Scimetrics Ltd. Corp.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

BeefTalk: Zero Tolerance for Bad Cows By Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University Extension April 17, 2017

I apologize if the following words are too harsh, but they are true.
Unfortunately, some know the feeling all too well. The beef business has risks, and one risk is bad-tempered cows, cows that want to kill you.
Most cows respect their caregivers and have only goodwill. But for those of a different temperament, get them out of the pen. You should have no room in the pen for killer cows.
While calving time brings out maternal behaviors, acceptable behaviors always must include respect for the producer, the primary caregiver. Never, never assume a cow will not harm the very person who cares most for the cow - you; no exceptions.
The truth is the same for bulls, but at this time of year, the cow is the one which we, as producers, are interacting. Once again, never, never assume a cow will not harm you.
I was reminded of this the other night as I turned the corner to walk past the local recreational facility. I was met by several massive tigers. Fortunately, they each were in their cage. Long story short, I walked away. But I still was thinking that if a cage door had come open, what would I do? Let me repeat, they were big, full-grown tigers.
The tigers reminded me of how small I was and no match for a tiger or cow. The outcome would be the same.
An issue today is how we visualize the critters of the world. We view animals on electronic devises - cellphones, television or many other various monitors - in the safety of our home. The hazards are minimized on the devices and we can become haphazard, or take our safety for granted.
Through time, one develops a feel for the rogue cow or calf with a quick look or maybe an intense stare-down. Early signs exist regarding those animals that you just know are not going to be a good co-habitation experience.
I remember, while working the cows in the solid handling facility, the last cow that came through. She made several attempts to leave, and tried to double-stack the chute, or in other words, push by the restraining gatekeeper and join the cow already in the chute. She indiscriminately and defensively kicked the chute wall.
She was diagnosed as pregnant, so now what? Keep or cull? Oddly enough, that would be debated in many cattle circles. I pondered, “If a producer always sorted into the trailer the last few heifers or cows to come through the chute, would life get simpler?” So, keep or cull? Those with adequate help (who have agility included in their job description) might consider keeping this cow. For those who are more “do it yourself,” the answer sways toward culling.
Ask the business partner; the answer is “maybe.” Ask the emergency response team; the answer is “cull.” Ask the night calving crew; the answer is “cull.” Ask the family; the answer is “cull.” Then ask, “Why is she still here?”
In reality, ornery cattle are just ornery and have no business in the cattle population. They are dangerous.
Is behavior or temperament passed on from one generation to the next? Absolutely. Can producers select for mild-mannered cattle? Absolutely. Can producers control the destiny of their herd’s attitude? Absolutely. Should bull breeders castrate the bull calf with an obvious attitude? Absolutely.
Quit making excuses for bad-tempered cattle. Some say they are just scared and want to get away. Some say the issue is the producer. I say, just work with cattle that work for you, not against you.
The question often asked is what to look for, and the answer is this: Cattle that routinely challenge the producer should be sold. Cattle that are very aggressive and are put in a defensive mode easily should be sold. Cattle that are overreactive to the chute environment should be sold.
Awhile back, the Dickinson Research Extension Center purchased a set of yearling steers for summer grazing that had no love for humans. Even as castrated males, their hatred for people and their desire to do bodily harm was real. And I am not making this up.
Having ultrasounded several thousand cows, nervous, high-strung cattle are obvious. One can obviously feel the tense, nervous cow, rigid on the outside but shaking on the inside. She needs to go.
When buying bulls, ask questions on bull attitude and, for heaven’s sake, don’t buy temperamental bulls that challenge the fitting crew, the handling crew, the sale crew or, in the worst-case situation, the buyers. Bulls with an attitude can be neutered and placed in the feedlot well before sale time.
Mysticism surrounds the concept of conquering the wild and taming the untamable. But let’s leave that to others. Friends and family like us to come home, and so we should, safely.
Of course, you have another side to this story: the overly tame cow, or particularly a tame bull. Respect is still the appropriate response. Remember those rare stories when someone adopts a tiger and assumes the tiger is a big pet. No, it is not.
The “tame” bull has taken too many lives. Always respect cattle; care for them, but be safe.
May you find all your ear tags.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sexed Semen: History and Potential By John Maday, Editor, Bovine Veterinarian December 23, 2016 | reprinted from Drovers Online Ag Journal

 George Seidel, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and a pioneer in the creation and use of sexed semen in cattle breeding.
 George Seidel, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and a pioneer in the creation and use of sexed semen in cattle breeding.

While the technology behind sex-sorted semen is relatively new, the tool has become commonplace, particularly in dairy breeding. And as the process for sorting, processing and using sexed semen becomes more efficient, leaving a calf’s sex up to chance could become obsolete.
“Sex is the most important genetic trait,” says Colorado State University reproductive physiologist George Seidel, who recently presented a webinar on the topic, hosted by the Dairy Cattle Reproductive Council (DCRC).
Seidel, who helped pioneer the sorting process and application for sexed semen in cattle, says some of the original research took place in the 1980s at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Scientists there became concerned about possible effects of radiation on workers’ offspring, and their studies of sperm led to discoveries regarding differences between sperm cells carrying X or Y chromosomes. In the late 1980s, USDA researchers found they could segregate X and Y sperm from rabbits, and in the early 1990s researchers in the United Kingdom began experimenting with producing male calves through in-vitro fertilization. In the late 1990s, Seidel and his team at CSU developed a process for creating sex-sorted cattle semen for freezing and use in artificial insemination (AI). Through the CSU Research Foundation, they formed a company, XY Inc., which was later sold to Sexing Technologies, based in Texas.
In 2006, Seidel says, about 1.5% of Holstein heifers and fewer than 1% of Holstein cows in the United States were bred using sexed semen. By 2008, sexed semen accounted for about 14.5% of breedings in Holstein heifers and around 2.5% in cows.

The process

Sorting semen is complicated by the fact that X and Y semen are virtually identical in most respects. Their size, shape, weight, electrical charge and speed are essentially the same, which is nature’s way of providing a 50/50 chance for male or female offspring. Scientists found however, there is slightly more DNA in an X sperm than a Y sperm – about 4% more in cattle. Using a DNA-binding dye, laser light and precise computer analysis, they found they could identify sperm cells based on differences in their fluorescence.
The computer-controlled sorting machinery, which costs about $500,000 for a basic unit, separates semen into microscopic droplets, each ideally containing one sperm cell, and tags X sperm with a positive charge and Y sperm with a negative charge. Sperm that are non-viable or are not clearly identified are discarded in the sorting process. The system can evaluate about 25,000 droplets per second, as they move through the machine at 50 miles per hour. In a given sample, the system typically will sort off about 30% X sperm, 30% Y sperm and 40% unidentified or non-viable sperm.
Purity of the sorted samples can reach 95%, and the industry standard is 90%, but sorting takes considerable time, and the process damages more sperm cells than conventional collection and freezing, adding to the cost of each dose. A conventional dose of frozen semen contains around 20 million sperm cells. Sexed-semen doses typically contain closer to 2 million sperm cells, which provide a reasonable balance between cost and fertility. Pregnancy rates with sexed semen typically are lower than with conventional AI, although well-managed estrus synchronization, with AI timed six to 12 hours later than with conventional semen can help optimize fertility. Higher sperm counts per dose can improve fertility with sexed semen, but not enough to justify the much higher cost of production, Seidel says.
Sexed semen generally costs about $15 more per dose than conventional semen. Lower fertility and less than 100% accuracy also contribute to the overall cost per breeding with sexed semen, Seidel says
Theoretically, as the technology improves, fertility rates with sexed semen in cattle could equal or exceed those with conventional AI, as it does today in sheep. The process already does a good job of sorting off dead or non-viable sperm cells, and could eventually provide more cells per dose at cost-effective prices. Accuracy also could be improved. Current technology can produce accuracy around 95%, but the cost is higher than that for the industry standard of 90%. Those costs could drop in the future.
Currently, dairy producers often use sexed semen to select for heifer calves from their most productive females, sometimes using conventional semen from beef sires to add value to their remaining calves as beef animals. They could eventually use sexed semen to produce female calves for replacements in the milking herd and male calves for beef production. Beef producers could use a similar process, breeding for maternal heifer replacements from their best females while using male sexed semen from terminal-cross bulls to produce feeder steers from the rest of the herd.
Potentially the technology could make the use of un-sexed semen obsolete, Seidel says, adding that depending on the production system, “one sex always is more valuable than the other.