Evaluating the 5-Year-Old Seedstock Cow: Is She Pulling Her Weight? – Drovers Magazine

Weaning is a good time for herd evaluation. How did the cows do this year? Did each individual cow bring home a good calf? In the seedstock business, the bar is higher than in a commercial herd. Registered breeders need more from their cows than just an acceptable calf. They need calves that will become highly marketable bulls as well as heifers that can enter the herd as replacements and contribute positively to the next round of superior genetics.

Registered cows that fail to produce marketable bull progeny and/or herd-worthy replacement heifers don’t have a place in a seedstock herd. They may be acceptable as commercial females, but in a registered herd, they simply occupy space and use up resources that could be beneficially directed elsewhere.

Practical Application. Consider a 5-year-old seedstock cow that has just weaned her fourth calf. She’s bred back every year, which is one positive attribute. However, by age 5, she should have done more than that for her owner. With four calves to her name, she should have profitably contributed to the herd by producing at least one (better yet, two or three) marketable sale bulls and/or replacement heifers. Cows that fail to meet that goal by the time they’ve produced four calves might as well be removed from the seedstock herd and replaced.

Production costs are higher in the seedstock business compared to commercial operations, particularly in the areas of breeding, marketing and labor related to data collection/submission. Thus, any 5-year-old cow that has produced only feeder-quality steers and heifers is not pulling her weight.

For illustration, consider the three example cows shown in the table below. Each cow is evaluated relative to her contribution to the seedstock herd. Cow 1 has done an excellent job, producing two replacement-quality heifers and one marketable bull out of her first four calves. That’s three out of four, which is a good batting average. Cow 2 also performed well and has one breeding-quality bull and one replacement heifer to her credit in four calves. She’s made two solid contributions to both the short and longer-term profitability of the registered herd.


Cow 3, on the other hand, has failed to make even one positive contribution. She is essentially a commercial cow that in four tries was unable to produce a calf that was a “breeder” not a “feeder.” This cow might be reproductively sound for another four calves, but her ability to contribute financially to a seedstock herd is seriously in doubt. There’s nothing particularly useful about this cow to a registered operation.

Conclusion. Seedstock breeders, from one to the next, may evaluate their own cows differently from the example provided in this article. Some might be more strict and decide that by age 4, a cow needs to have produced at least one salable bull progeny or one replacement heifer. That, of course, is up to the individual breeder. The important point is that every registered cow needs to contribute to the seedstock enterprise with progeny that themselves pass muster as breeding animals. A cow that can’t do that in three or four tries has no real place in a registered herd.

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Techniques for Reducing Sugar Content in Dairy Products Show Promise – www.thecattlesite.com


Techniques for Reducing Sugar Content in Dairy Products Show Promise

03 September 2018

US – Dairy foods are popular among consumers, and sales gross more than $125 billion per year (IDFA, 2017). With dairy product popularity comes new demands from consumers for healthier, low-calorie products that taste the same as their higher calorie counterparts.

In a report published in the Journal of Dairy Science, researchers review the options available to the dairy industry to reduce sugar in products such as ice cream, yogurt, and flavored milk without sacrificing flavor.

The public health and consumer focus on health has increased in the past 20 years, leading to a significant push for healthier food choices including dairy products. Overconsumption of sugar, for example, can contribute to a host of issues such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dental cavities.

“Dairy foods represent a large market,” explained lead investigator MaryAnne Drake, PhD, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences, Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.

“The dilemma of how to reduce sugar content without sacrificing flavor and negatively affecting product sales is challenging, as sugar plays an important role in dairy foods, not only in flavor, but also in texture, color, and viscosity. Replacing sugar can have negative effects, making substitution inherently difficult.”

Dairy products like ice cream, yogurt, and flavored milk are potentially high in unwanted added sugar. Some of the standard processes for developing healthier food products, such as fat, sugar, and salt reduction, result in an unacceptable flavor. Sweet taste perception can also be affected by texture of the food matrix and the presence of fat.

Other sugar reduction techniques include hydrolysis of lactose, ultrafiltration, and direct reduction. In this review, researchers review recent studies to assess the role of sugar, alternative sweeteners, and sugar reduction in ice cream, yogurt, and flavored milk and discuss the options available to the dairy industry.

Ice cream

Ice cream is one of the most heavily consumed dairy products in the world. To achieve the sweet taste desired by consumers, between 10 to 14 per cent sugar needs to be added. Studies have shown that reduced sugar and reduced fat products, such as ice cream, show a higher propensity for a bitter aftertaste and a lower intensity of creaminess. Among the promising options the researchers found were:

  • Calorie-reduced ice creams sweetened with sorbitol and sucralose were most accepted compared with other “light” vanilla ice creams or ice cream with a minimum reduction of 25 per cent of the total energy, sugar, or lipid.
  • Erythritol and lactitol are sugar alcohols that have been used to create low-calorie ice cream. Erythritol is more commonly used for sugar reduction in ice cream because it provides volume and texture and is only a fraction of sucrose calories.
  • Chocolate-flavored ice creams are typically formulated with higher sugar content to decrease the bitterness associated with cocoa. When the sugar is reduced, not only does the ice cream taste more bitter, but it also tastes less chocolatey. In one study, researchers proposed a solution by marketing sugar-reduced chocolate ice cream to dark chocolate lovers, who already desire and tolerate substantially higher levels of bitterness.
  • Frozen yogurt is often viewed as a healthy alternative to ice cream because of its lower fat content and the presence of lactic acid bacteria, even when frozen, but the sugar content is typically the same as regular ice cream. A study of frozen yogurt determined that substituting inulin and isomalt for sugar and fat led to a similar sweetness and a reduction in fat with no added sugar.


Yogurt is generally recognized as a healthy food because of its nutritional content, but it is usually sweetened with sugar to increase palatability. Several studies have reported that liking yogurt is influenced by texture, aroma, and taste and that sweetness is an important component.

  • Several studies found that sweetener blends of nonnutritive sweeteners have been very successful in reducing sugar content of yogurt.
  • One study reported that it was possible to produce a probiotic yogurt successfully using sweeteners without affecting the viability of the probiotic microorganisms. The addition of nonnutritive sweeteners did not negatively affect the yogurt-making process because the sweeteners did not break down over time.

Flavored milk

Flavored milk is popular among children and adults because of its special taste and ability to meet the dietary requirements for dairy foods in the United States. Studies have shown that flavored milk increases milk consumption. Chocolate milk, the most popular flavor, typically has higher sugar content and is therefore a frequent target for sugar reduction techniques. However, reducing sugar in chocolate milk is quite costly and many school directors choose the higher sugar alternative to reduce cost or choose to eliminate chocolate milk entirely. There have been several studies into alternative ways of reducing sugar calories in chocolate milk with some contradictory results.

  • One study showed that withdrawing a chocolate milk option meant that three or four additional foods needed to be added into the diet to replace the nutrients from milk, adding additional calories and cost. Therefore, sugar-reduced chocolate milk should be considered the cheaper alternative.
  • In another study parents preferred natural nonnutritive sweeteners over nutritive sweeteners as the sweetener source in chocolate milk.
  • Some studies found that added sugar could be directly reduced in chocolate milk and still be accepted by children and adults if it did not exceed 30 per cent.

Overall, the most successful techniques for sugar reduction in dairy foods involve replacing sugar with nonnutritive sweeteners, whether natural or artificial, because these provide the sweet taste desired by consumers without added calories. Direct reduction of sugar and lactose hydrolysis methods also show promise.

“Understanding current sugar-reduction techniques, research, and consumer response to sugar reduction in dairy products is important for dairy manufacturers in order to design and produce sugar-reduced products,” noted Dr Drake. “Sugar reduction is an inherently difficult task due to the many functions of sugar in food products, but progress is being made in developing products acceptable to consumers.”

“Reducing sugar is everyone’s responsibility in order to improve individual and public health and this review paper is timely to highlight options available to dairy industry,” commented Siva Kaliappan, Vice President Product Research, National Dairy Council, Rosemont, IL, USA.

You can view the full report by clicking here.

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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Investigation Launched After 'Gruesome' Cow Skinning Video Appears Online – Plant Based News

Cow Welare Issue
A dispute was sparked over whether the cow was dead or alive

‍Ontario police have said that an investigation has been launched in response to a cow skinning video that circulated online – but that animal cruelty is not suspected.

The video reportedly appears to have been shot in rural Ontario – and it sparked debate over whether the animal shown was alive or dead at the time of skinning.

While the police maintain that the cow was dead when the video was shot – Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture will also investigate what its described as a ‘disgusting and gruesome’ video.

Police will be investigation to ensure the slaughter met the standards of Canada’s Food Safety and Quality Act


Sargent Paul Davies of the Halton Regional Police told Global News that the video was shot around the time of Eid – a Muslim holiday which often involves ritualistic animal slaughter.

He added that the primary purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the cow’s death fell in line with the country’s Food Safety and Quality Act.

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Robots in Idaho dairy farms help facilitate cow milking | East Idaho … – East Idaho News


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WENDELL — In the Treasure Valley, artificial intelligence is changing the way we get around, how we research, and even how we shop for cartons of milk.

But even a carton of milk from a rural farm in Idaho may have been produced with the help of robots too.

“We haven’t milked by hand for decades,” said Rick Naerebout, CEO of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. “We’ve moved beyond that a few decades ago.”

In the last few years, more and more Idaho dairies have begun implementing robots in their milking facilities.

“The brushes are going up and their scrubbing, each, uh, side of the utter, cleaning the cow, stimulating her, helping to let her milk down,” said Jerimy Craig, owner of Box Canyon Dairy. “There’s another employee there that is towel drying them off. Getting them prepared to put the machine on.”

And one thing’s for sure: milking is not what it used to be. The suction tubes that connect to the cow’s udders are designed to pulsate in a way that feels to them like real hands, avoiding pain or harm to cows with healthy udders.

But there are clear incentives for the investment. For one, efficiency. And two, it replaces jobs.

“We cut our employee numbers in half,” said Craig. “So, that alone, was, is huge.”

And robots are not the only technology being utilized on Idaho dairy farms.

“Every animal has an RFID chip in her. So when they enter the facility, we know what stall she’s in, what time she was milked, and it’s recording the amount of flow she gives each day. So we have the amount of milk she’s producing every day,” said Craig.

In turn, producing a “sink-or-swim” environment among competing farms.

“No longer can you really succeed by just being a good cow-person. You have to be a great business manager, a great HR person, and really have a whole suite of specialties that we didn’t have to have in the past,” said Naerebout.

™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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BeefTalk: Economic Greats – 93 Percent of Cow's Weight Harvested – Tri-State Livestock News

As I was reviewing Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software (CHAPS) records recently, cow Y1002’s record popped up.

Because of the weight of her calves at harvest (93 percent of her weight), she is one of the economic greats of the Dickinson Research Extension Center’s herd.

Y1002’s dam is half-Red Angus and half-Angus, and Y1002 was sired by an Aberdeen bull called Cadet Quartermaster. I would call Y1002 a frame score 3, 1,100-pound cow. Her weight has averaged 1,069 in the fall, but as she ages, she will put on some weight.

Y1002 has weaned a calf every year. Her 2015 calf (C5132), born on a late spring day, May 26, comes to mind as representing what I would expect out of a commercial cow. The sire of C5132 was not known because the center group mates and Y1002 was exposed to three bulls in her particular 2014 breeding pasture: 3280, an Angus bull, and two Red Angus bulls, A042 and A079.

Calf C5132 was 80 pounds at birth and 582 pounds at weaning, boasted 2.6 pounds of average daily gain and was 43 inches at the hip (frame score 4.9) on Dec. 3, 2015. C5132 was representative of his contemporaries. As with most calves, to the visual eye, he was just a calf but slightly on the small side.

Once neutered, C5132 went to the winter backgrounding lot, where he was targeted to gain 1.5 pounds a day on roughage, and was summered in 2016 on grass, crop aftermath and other forages. On Dec. 13, 2016, C5132 weighed 1,195 pounds and went to the feed yard, arriving at 1,104 pounds after shrinkage.

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At the feed yard, C5132 gained 4.8 pounds per day, reaching 1,673 pounds on harvest day, April 18, 2017 (683 days of age). C5132 had a hot carcass weight of 996 pounds, .4 inch of back fat and 15.4 square inches of rib eye, with a 2.8 yield grade and average Choice quality grade. Recall the earlier statistics and ponder.

Remember, C5132 was frame score 4.9 at weaning, and his mother, Y1002, averaged 1,069 pounds in body weight. Now ponder, and ponder a lot. I would be proud to look across the pasture at a whole herd of cows that resemble Y1002.

The economics of the cow-calf business involve three very important economic drivers. Economic driver No. 1: calving cows in sync with grass. Y1002 bred and calved on grass. Upon rebreeding, she foraged through late fall and early winter with limited harvested feed because her third trimester didn’t start until late February.

The delay in the consumption of harvested feed potentially shaves a third of the winter feed costs or more in cases where a producer is finely tuning winter grazing operations. The mid-December weaning puts calves into the backgrounding facilities, where gain may be minimized, but they stay vigorous and healthy.

Following winter, C5132 and his contemporaries were turned out on cool-season spring grass, a grazing banquet. This is the same grass type on which C5132 started life.

Keep in mind, the mother cows again were across the hill grazing and calving on their own cool-season pastures. As summer progresses into fall, properly designed grazing strategies will funnel the cows to more crop residue and the yearlings to fall cover crops, standing corn and other higher protein forages.

Here’s an important point: As 2016 came to a close, Y1002’s bull calf (D6001) weaned at 576 pounds, with 2.1 pounds of average daily gain and a frame score of 4.8. This was as C5132 was ready to load on the truck going to the feed yard.

This is time to ponder and ponder some more. While the DREC was providing for Y1002 and her 2016 calf, the ranch had added 613 pounds to C5132 (her 2015 calf).

Back to the economic drivers. Economic driver No. 2: the importance of monitoring cow weight. In this case, one cow is marketing a calf each year, but the second year does not have the costs of the cow’s pregnancy. This is interesting to note.

Y1002 is a 1,069-pound cow, exceeding 1,100 at maturity, and averages 538 pounds of calf at weaning, with the potential to market 1,200-pound yearlings. Sure, heavier cows could produce these calves, but then the extra cow weight is simply a burden and expense to the operation.

Economic driver No. 3: the bull. Cow Y1002 is not a large, robust, muscular cow, but the bulls that sire her calves have those traits. The bull she mated with helped produce 996 pounds of carcass on the rail at .4 inch of back fat and 15.4 square inches of rib eye, with a 2.8 yield grade and average Choice quality grade. That is 93 percent of the cow’s weight harvested.

Who decides all this? The producer does by constructing the fences, planting in the soil, partitioning the grass and determining the level of production and financial rewards sought. So, I just had to ponder and smile as Y1002’s records were reviewed. Unfortunately, Y1002 only produced bull calves, all steered, but commercial wonders.

When producers ponder the future, they have no need to question the futility of agriculture. Opportunity abounds. The challenges are us and our willingness to think, plan and achieve.

May you find all your ear tags.

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Cow rescued after nine days at bottom of Devon cliffs – BBC News – BBC News

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A cow trapped at the bottom of cliffs for more than a week has been rescued by firefighters and the RSPCA.

The animal was spotted in its precarious position on rocks between Hallsands and Start Point, Devon, by a member of public on 22 August.

Farmer Fred Ansell fed hay to the heifer, nicknamed Rocky, by kayak.

On Friday, the year-old Devon Red Ruby was stunned by a vet before being levered into a boat and taken to safety on a nearby beach.

Mr Ansell said: “The rescue operation went excellently. Rocky is standing up and looks bright and happy.”

  • More news from across Devon

Rocky was transferred to a trailer to be taken back to Start Farm, where she will be fully checked over by a vet.

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Mad cow disease diagnosed in Florida beef cow – KTRK-TV


Florida’s Department of Agriculture announced today that a case of mad cow disease has been detected in a 6-year-old mixed breed beef cow.

The department didn’t say where the cow was, but emphasized that it never entered the slaughter channels or food supply.

Mad cow is a progressive neurologic disease.

This form of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is not contagious, and is different from Classic BSE, which has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people.

Classic BSE occurred in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, in cattle which had been given the infectious prion agent, such as meat-and-bone meal containing protein from rendered infected cattle.

The FDA has prohibited mammalian protein in feed for cattle since 1997, and in all animal feed since 2009.

The animal in Florida was tested as part of the USDA routine surveillance of cattle deemed unsuitable for slaughter.

(Copyright ©2018 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Ankle bracelets connected to the cloud are giving farmers a wealth of data about their cows – CNBC

From cheese and butter to an ice-cold glass of milk, cows are a crucial cog in the global food and drink industry.

In the European Union (EU), cows produced 163 million tons of milk in 2016, according to statistics body Eurostat. This represents 96.9 percent of all milks produced in the EU.

As demand for dairy products increases, farmers are under an increasing amount of pressure to boost yields and ensure their animals are in top physical condition.

One business, IceRobotics, wants to use technology to assist the farming process. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, the company develops and provides data collection and analysis to help farmers monitor the behavior of dairy cows.

Data collection and analysis is enabled by a sensor being placed on a cow’s rear leg. “It’s recording data multiple times a second,” Douglas Armstrong, IceRobotics’ CEO, told CNBC’s Didi Akinyelure.

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“The data then is transmitted,” he added. “It goes over a trigger in the milking parlor, the data is… sent to the cloud, we run our diagnostic algorithms in the cloud and then all the information is sent back to the PC.”

The device provides farmers with a wealth of data, including information relating to a cow’s fertility. Using visual interfaces such as graphs, a farmer can monitor when a cow is lying down or upright. While this may seem like an innocuous piece of information, it is anything but.

“What we’re doing is we’re measuring the difference between today’s behavior and yesterday’s behavior,” Douglas said. “Whenever… she’s looking for a mate, she’s not interested in lying down anymore and her behavior totally changes.” Increased activity in the graph generates a heat alert so the farmer knows when a cow is ready to “serve.”

The data provided by IceRobotics’ system can also let farmers know if a cow is unwell. “Cows like to lie down,” Douglas said. “They’re either lying or eating or they will socialize, but generally speaking they will lie down for about 12 hours every day.”

“If they’re not, if they’re lying down for less than that or they’re lying down for a lot longer, then you know that there is something potentially wrong.”

Problems could range from illness to being lame, an incredibly important issue for dairy farmers. “A lame cow produces less milk than she optimally could produce if she wasn’t lame, so the farmer’s, you could say… losing money,” Vivi Thorup, lead scientist at IceRobotics, said.

“It’s also a welfare issue to the cow, because if the cow’s lame it’s a sign that she’s feeling pain, she’s got sore feet for some reason,” Thorup added.

Farmer Alex Jack has a 300 strong herd of milking cows in Fife, Scotland. Jack has seen the benefits of using new technology on her farm first hand. “The cow alert system that we’ve put in here has been fantastic because it’s like having a person with each individual cow all day long, collecting data from them,” she said.

“Every morning I check the computer and I’m able to see cows that are not lying for long enough, and that would indicate that there’s potentially a problem with them,” she added. “It’s also collecting all their heats, so we get more accurate with getting cows into calve earlier, which is obviously better for them and better for us.”

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Study suggests need for cull cow lameness evaluation training – Feedstuffs

A common reason for culling dairy cows is lameness. An important element of cow welfare during transport is to make sure they are fit for transport before they are loaded into the trailer, according to researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark.

This includes an evaluation of whether their lameness is serious enough to preclude transport. Farmers, livestock drivers and veterinarians regularly face the task of assessing transport fitness of lame dairy cows, Aarhus said, adding that the question is how similar their assessments are to each other.

The Aarhus researchers have done an initial investigation in which they asked farmers, livestock drivers and veterinarians to evaluate cow lameness and fitness for transport based on video sequences. The aim of the study — which Aarhus said is one of the first of its kind — was to evaluate the extent of agreement among farmers, livestock drivers and veterinarians — both within and between the groups — with regard to assessing cows’ lameness and fitness for transport.

The researchers used an online questionnaire with 30 video sequences of walking cows. The respondents were asked to score each cow for lameness and assess if it was fit for transport or not, the announcement said. A total of 55 people participated in the survey: 19 farmers, 19 veterinarians and 17 livestock drivers.

The cows in the videos varied from having a completely normal gait to being severely lame. Each cow was scored as to whether it was “not lame,” “slightly lame” or “lame.” The participants were given definitions of these categories beforehand: a “not lame” cow was one that walked normally, a “slightly lame” cow was one that did not walk normally but it was not possible to see which leg was affected and a “lame” cow was one where it could been seen which leg was affected.

The participants were also asked to assess, solely on the basis of the cow’s lameness, if she was fit for transport.

Slightly different assessments

In general, agreement among the groups was moderate, the researchers said, explaining that the group of veterinarians tended to assess more of the cows as being lame, while the group of farmers tended to assess fewer of the cows as being unfit for transport. Otherwise, the researchers said there was no systematic agreement or disagreement within or among the groups.

“If our results hold in a larger survey, they indicate that there is a need for more focus on assessment of fitness for transport. This could, for example, take the form of training of the various groups that undertake the assessments. The aim would be to ensure good animal welfare during transport,” said Peter T. Thomsen from the Aarhus department of animal science and one of the researchers behind the study.

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