It is a COOL mystery

If it is any help to Canadian cattle and hog producers (probably the chicken and lamb guys too) everyone was just tickled January 12 about the final Country of Origin of Labeling rule announced by the USDA, but damned if I could find anyone who knew why.

At this writing, it is just one of those great mysteries of life. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) issued a news release saying they were “pleased,” and the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) news release said it was “cautiously optimistic” about the final rule, but when it came down to the details of what change happened to bring about all this pleasure no one would or could say, and anyone who might know was in transit.

CCA president Brad Wildeman of Lanigan, Sask. was flying to Japan to talk to Agriculture Minister Kritz, CCA Foreign Trade Chair Travis Toews who ranches near Beaverlodge, Alberta was flying to Ottawa, and Canadian Pork Council chairman Jurgen Preugschas, who farms near Barrhead, Alberta was also on his way to Ottawa.

I assume with all this transit going on, it must have been important but apparently these three had not shared the significance of the final rule with anyone else.

At least the beef producers have recognized COOL will have an impact on the beef industry. The CCA has quite a good up-to-date page on its website (www.cattle.ca)that outlines what COOL is, and what the potential impact on the industry has been so far.

The Canadian Pork Council, however, as far as I can see stopped updating it’s Internet website sometime in 2007 and when I asked a spokesperson about COOL I received a written reply that said “the direct impact of COOL may cost the pork industry millions,” but there were no specifics. I would have thought the impact of COOL would be something the CPC would be monitoring closely since for several years they have been the largest meat exporter in Canada.

Anyway, my deadline for this issue of Cattleman’s Corner has come and gone and I can tell you little more than something happened with COOL and two livestock organizations are sort of pleased.

Sale results

Crowfoot Cattle Co. Red & Black Angus, Standard, Alta., December two-year-old bull sale: 57 bulls, grossed $139,821, averaged $2,453; high selling Red Angus, Lot 1 purchased by Tim Burnat of Jenner, AB for $4,900. High selling Black Angus Lot 44 purchased by Henry Colpoys of Strathmore, AB for $4,200. Crowfoot Cattle Co. Yearling Red & Black Angus Bull Sale, will be held at Standard, April 9, 2009.

Lower cost backgrounding

Backgrounding calves over winter on swath grazing systems, as opposed to a feed yard can reduce costs by 30 to 50 per cent, says a senior researcher with the Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC).

Bard Lardner, who conducted research at the WBDC’s Termuende Research Farm, near Lanigan, Sask., told producers attending the Western Canadian Grazing Conference in Edmonton, that putting calves on barley or millet swaths held cost of production to 63 to 87 cents per head per day, respectively. While, a group of calves back grounded on a more conventional hay and supplement ration in a feedyard cost $1.17 per head per day to feed.

Performance wise calves on the golden millet swaths gained 1.3 pounds per day, calves on the barley swaths gained 1.9 pounds per day and drylot calves gained 1.6 pounds per day.

On top of the feed and yardage cost savings, Lardner said nutrients in the manure left by calves over wintering on pasture added about 35 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

Larnder points out his figures are based on a research farm situation, but says the study does show the potential of swath grazing as an economical option for backgrounding calves.

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