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One of my assignments this winter was to find a beef animal in Arizona. I know it sounds crazy since there are probably a couple of hundred head right here in Western Canada. But, NO, the editor and maybe even the editorial director and publisher insisted that I find and photograph a beef animal in Arizona. And here it is.

But, it was no easy task. First we had to stop in Phoenix for a few days — acclimatize to the elevation, get my bearings. My wife came too. I needed someone to carry my camera gear. It was the first time I was in Phoenix. And what is there to do in Phoenix?

OK we went to an outlet mall, a golf superstore, we golfed and I had to sit by a pool for a few hours. But I didn’t see any beef there. (One interesting note about golfing in Phoenix — we went with a cousin to the Arizona Golf Resort in Mesa and one of the golf balls I lost during this game landed in the front yard of the house once owned by Lorne Green, a long-time rancher and head of the famed Cartwright family of the long-running TV series Bonanza (1959 to 1973). And according to those in the know, Hop Sing, the TV series cook, owned the house two doors down. But back to the beef saga.

Then it was on to western Arizona. There had to be a beef animal somewhere between Phoenix, Parker and Lake Havasu. But there wasn’t. In fact in that stretch of the state I don’t think anything actually lives. Pretty country, but in my view not all that productive. Surprisingly the I-10 Interstate highway is fenced on both sides, but I cannot imagine what kind of life it is holding back from getting on the road. I did see a dead pile of fur on the highway at one point, but there was little else to indicate that anything survived in the endless miles of brush, sand, gravel and cactus.

After a tedious three days around golf courses and casinos near Lake Havasu it was on to the I-40 and north and east towards the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It wasn’t long after passing through the town of Kingman that I began to have some hope. There was grass amid the brush. And before long it began to open up into what I considered pretty good-looking range country and it went on for miles. In fact there are about 62 million acres of rangeland in the state supporting nearly a million head of cattle. Obviously I picked a slower day to observe the ranching industry.

It was probably the wrong time of year too to see many cattle on pasture, but finally near the town of Seligman, there it was — a beef animal. I believe it was a Charolais heifer (pic. above). I doubt it was the finest example of the Arizona beef industry, but it was bound to make burger and steaks one day. Seligman, by the way is a thriving community of about 450 people, settled by southern plantation families who lost everything in the Civil War. Its major claim to fame is that it is the starting point of the famous Route 66. It is a good place to stop for lunch and if you’re in need of 1960-era souvenirs, it is the Mecca.

Just past Seligman there was a group of about 15 Charolais/Simmental cross cattle standing near the highway. Elsewhere in this area I saw stock trailers attached to pickup trucks, an empty cattle liner, and every once in a while out on this vast expanse of range I would see black dots of grazing Angus cattle. But my mission was accomplished. I had the photo. Time to move on. I did stop and see the Grand Canyon. It is nice too. But after looking at miles of unproductive desert further south, it was nice to drive through this vast expanse of range country.

And then it was home. That is one example of the effort we go to here at Grainews to bring you news of the agriculture industry around the world. Now there is a rumor they want me to find a cotton field in Georgia this fall — like that will be easy! But I know I am up to the challenge.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

Arthur is 90 years old and has played golf every day since his retirement 25 years ago. One day, he arrives home looking downcast.

“That’s it,” he tells his wife. “I’m giving up golf. My eyesight has gotten so bad that once I hit the ball, I can’t even see where it goes.”

His wife sympathizes and makes him a cup of tea. As they sit down, she says, “Why don’t you take my brother with you and give it one more try?”

“That’s no good,” sighs Arthur. “Your brother’s a 103. He can’t help.”

“He may be a 103,” says his wife, “but his eyesight is perfect.”

So, the next day, Arthur heads off to the golf course with his brother-in-law. He tees up, takes an almighty swing and squints down the fairway.

He turns to the brother-in-law and asks, “Did you see the ball?”

“Of course I did!” replied the brother-in-law. “I have perfect eyesight!”

“Where did it go?” says Arthur.

“I don’t remember.”

BIOSECURITY ON THE FARM

There are many definitions of biosecurity. On the farm it means a lot of simple practices that make sense. This is the view of veterinarian Dr. Ron Clarke of Clarke Communications and Consulting.

“Most of the diseases that come onto the farm either walk onto the farm or are bought. Producers need to be aware of that,” says Clarke.

Clarke has been involved with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) in the production of a biosecurity manual for veterinary clinics and agriculture producers. The manual makes reference to all areas of biosecurity including small animals, companion animals, cattle, sheep, pigs and horses.

“Primarily biosecurity, as defined in the manual, is ‘Steps taken to prevent the transmission of disease between animals, between animals and people and between premises that have animals.’ It means doing the simple things and doing them all the time including how you buy livestock, what you do with livestock that you bring onto your farm, how you treat disease and how you manage animal health. These practices, more and more often, are now included in Codes of Practice that the swine, horse, dairy and beef cattle industries have published,” adds Clarke.

He encourages anyone involved in the livestock industry to look at biosecurity material that appears on the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association web page. “Think how these principles might be applied on individual premises,” says Clarke. “It might be as simple as doing more through the calving season to prevent the transmission and, or introduction of diseases — how we manage weaned calves to reduce the prevalence of respiratory infections, how we bring in replacement heifers and how we bring in yearling bulls to insure that we’re not bringing in things that we don’t want to bring in.”

AFAC CONFERENCE THIS WEEK

There’s still time to find a seat at one of the leading showcase events on farm animal care at the Alberta Livestock Care Conference (LCC), March 21-22, 2013, in Calgary.

“The conference provides an opportunity for producers, researchers, industry, students, government and the public to address animal welfare issues from all sectors of the livestock industry,” says Larry Delver, producer vice-chair of AFAC. It typically draws both speakers and attendance from across Canada, along with representation from the U.S. and internationally.

The first day of the conference, on Thursday, March 21, is focused on student activities and the AFAC AGM, which is followed by an evening research posters presentation and welcome reception for the LCC which begins at 8 p.m. The main LCC agenda is Friday, March 22, beginning with registration and continental breakfast at 7:15 a.m., with speakers and discussion running from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

The main speaker agenda includes a special focus on major developments and issues on the front burner for livestock producers and their industries. Featured sessions highlight new global standards in animal care, innovative assessment models for the livestock industry, and case-studies of how major livestock producer organizations are meeting new challenges and expectations.

Among specific highlights, Dr. James Reynolds, College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University, U.S.A., will present a major two-part session on animal welfare assessments. This will be followed by a processor’s viewpoint on assessment needs, by Dr. Lily Edwards-Callaway of JBS, the large Brazilian multinational food processing company.

Jackie Wepruk, manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), will provide a breakdown of what’s happening at a global level with new World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards, and the implications for Canada. Snapshots of how industry is tackling livestock welfare progress will be showcased in a session slated to include representatives of NFACC, Alberta Milk, Alberta Chicken Producers and the Canadian Pork Council. Closing insights will be provided by long-time livestock industry and farm animal care leader Dr. Darryl Dalton of the ABVMA.

Full conference details including agenda and accommodation information is available at www.afac.ab.ca/lcc. Register online at that address or call AFAC at 403-662-8050. AFAC is the organization representing all major livestock producer organizations in Alberta with the goal of promoting responsible farm animal care.

An LCC communications program around the conference is also anchored on the AFAC LCC website at www.afac.ab.ca/lcc, including a link to a special “LCC News Blog” covering key action leading up to and during the conference. Watch for Twitter updates at the hashtag “#LCC2013.”

Global 4-H Youth Ag Summit

Later this year, 120 young leaders, ages 18-25, from around the world will gather in Calgary for the 4-H Youth Ag Summit, August 19-25 to find solutions to food and environmental issues as the global population approaches nine billion people. The summit, sponsored by Bayer Crop Science will include keynote speakers, group discussions and collaborations, educational tours and celebrations.

Delegates will be tasked with identifying actionable agriculturally sustainable solutions to feeding a growing world.

The event is all part of the 100th anniversary of the 4-H movement in Canada.

WORLD ANGUS FORUM

The Canadian Angus Association on behalf of the Canadian Angus Foundation has announced those chosen to represent Canadian Angus in New Zealand this October at the 2013 PGG Wrightson World Angus Forum.

Youth representatives who will compete on three teams of four include: Stacey Domolewski, Taber, Alberta; Sean Enright, Renfrew, Ontario; Ty Dietrich, Forestburg, Alberta; Erika Easton, Wawota, Saskatchewan; Kaitlynn Bolduc, Stavely, Alberta; Matthew Bates, Cameron, Ontario; Chad Lorenz, Markerville, Alberta; Patrick Holland, Montague, Prince Edward Island; Melissa McRae, Brandon, Manitoba; Austen Anderson, Swan River, Manitoba; Michael Hargrave, Maxwell, Ontario; and Jared Hunter, Didsbury, Alberta.

TAKE THE ADVICE

A man goes to see the Rabbi. “Rabbi, something terrible is happening and I have to talk to you about it.”

The Rabbi asked, “What’s wrong?”

The man replied, “My wife is poisoning me.”

The Rabbi, very surprised by this, asks, “How can that be?”

The man then pleads, “I’m telling you, I’m certain she’s poisoning me, what should I do?”

The Rabbi then offers, “Tell you what. Let me talk to her, I’ll see what I can find out and I’ll let you know.”

A week later the Rabbi calls the man and says, “I spoke to her on the phone for three hours. You want my advice?”

The man said yes and the Rabbi replied, “Take the poison.”

NEW SLATE FOR SASKATCHEWAN LIVESTOCK MARKETERS

The Saskatchewan Livestock Marketers have elected its new executive. Veteran Livestock Marketers of Saskatchewan (LMS) Board Director Bob Blacklock of Saskatoon Livestock Sales has become president, after serving two years as first vice. He takes over from Rhett Parks of Whitewood Livestock Sales, who completed two years as LMS president.

Stewart Stone of Heartland Livestock Services assumed the role of first vice.

The following representatives of Saskatchewan’s auction markets, order buyers and assembly yards complete the LMS Board: Joe Jackson of JGL Livestock, Michael Fleury of Saskatoon Livestock Sales, Roy Rutledge of Assiniboia Livestock Auction, and John Williamson of Mankota Stockmen’s Weigh Co.

NEW PREZ FOR ALBERTA VETS

The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) has announced that Dr. James Marshall has been appointed to the position of ABVMA President. Marshall grew up in the Musquodoboit Valley of Nova Scotia. His father was a medical doctor and his mother was a radiology technician. He attended high school in Halifax, followed by Dalhousie University for six years graduating with an Honours B.Sc. in Biology, Minor in Music (Saxophone Performance). He completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island in 2000, and moved to Alberta shortly thereafter. Marshall is the owner of Big Horn Veterinary Services Ltd. in Hinton, a mixed animal practice in the foothills of Jasper National Park. He has served on the ABVMA Alternate Livestock and Wildlife Committee since 2008, on the ABVMA Council representing the North Region for the last three years, and is a member of the Canadian Veterinary Reserve.

FORAGE BEEF WEBSITE GROWS

Thanks to a tip from Jim Forbes, Regional Business Agrologist, Ministry of Agriculture at Kamloops, B.C., Foragebeef.ca has just added SmartFarmBC.ca to its collection under the “Links” tab. The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture’s Farm Business Management program has launched a comprehensive collection of online resources and electronic business tools to help farm owners and managers to make informed business decisions. The website, SmartFarmBC.ca , provides electronic workbook and self assessment tools, farm business management blogs, videos, real-time news and data feeds, and a wealth of information on all aspects of the business side of farming.

Whether producers are just starting out in farming, striving to improve the bottom line in their established business, or transitioning to the next generation of farmers, SmartFarmBC.ca provides the resources to meet the challenges and build business success.

Also, thanks to an email from Kabal S. Gill, Research Co-ordinator from the Smoky Applied Research & Demonstration Association (SARDA) at Falher, Alta., Foragebeef.ca has added “Evaluation of Forage Type Barley Varieties for Forage Yield and Nutritive Value in the Peace River Region of Alberta” into the Annuals folder, the Silage Crop Management folder and under Extended Grazing, the subfolders Using Cereal Crops and Using Swath Grazing.

Foragebeef.ca is a storehouse of good information from many sources pertinent to forage and beef in Western Canada!

THIS AREA LOOKS FAMILIAR

Paddy and Mick get a pilot to fly them to Canada to hunt moose.

They bag six.

As Paddy and Mick start loading the plane for the return trip, the pilot says, “The plane can only take four of those.”

The two lads object strongly. “Last year we shot six, and the pilot let us put them all on board; he had the same plane as yours.”

Reluctantly, the pilot gives in and all six are loaded.

However, even with full power, the little plane can’t handle the load and down it goes and crashes in the middle of nowhere.

A few moments later, climbing out of the wreckage, Paddy asks Mick,

“Any idea where we are?”

“I think we’re pretty close to where we crashed last year,” says Mick.

NEW GENOMICS COMPANY

The federal government has invested more than half a million dollars in helping an Alberta company boost the value and use of genomics in the cattle industry with new trait identification tools. Delta Genomics Centre will provide genomics technology to the Canadian cattle sector in order to optimize productivity.

The investment of more than $575,000 will help Delta accelerate the adoption of new genetic profiling tools that are more accurate, less costly and less time-consuming than traditional DNA tools. Potential future benefits extend to feed lot owners and processors, who will use the technology to efficiently pinpoint animals with the right meat qualities.

These innovative tools use genomics technology to give producers the chance to look “under the hide” and make improvements to their cattle. Genomics, the study of an animal’s genetic composition (DNA) or “profile,” can identify valuable traits like disease resistance, carcass quality, or feed efficiency.

Using new technology, the tools identify SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) which are genetic markers that can be tracked between parents and their offspring. Trait selection for markers such as meat quality, animal health and feed efficiency can lead to a more consistent product in the marketplace. Similar technology is being implemented in other countries. The funding will help Delta Genomics Centre collect and analyze samples from the cattle sector for SNP testing. The samples and profile results will be catalogued for use by Canadian breed associations.

“This project is an essential stepping stone to get the benefits of genomics into the hands of producers on the ground” said Colin Coros, VP Operations of Delta Genomics Centre. “It will allow our project partners to adopt a new sire identification tool, which is fundamental to using more in depth DNA profiles for genetic improvement of Canadian cattle.”

This project is supported through the Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) — a $50-million initiative announced as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2011 and part of the Government’s commitment to help Canadian producers benefit from cutting-edge science and technology.

The AIP funding has allowed the Canadian Angus Association to convert to SNP technology for parentage verification testing at no cost to our membership. SNP technology is more advanced and also less expensive than Microsatellite technology. The Canadian Angus Association leveraged its own funds through the AIP program to be able to convert over 4,000 historic samples to SNP, and to lower the cost of parentage verification testing from $30 a test to $12 a test. The Association believes that SNP parentage verification technology will allow Canadian Angus breeders to maintain extremely accurate pedigree records and guarantee customers superior Canadian Angus pedigree information. The Association has also been able to offer its members genomic marker panels (Igenity and Pfizer 50K HD) for half price through the AIP program. Canadian Angus members will be the first in Canada to receive Genomically Enhanced Expected Progeny Differences (GE-EPDs). †

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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