CARRINGTON, N.D. – Those attending the livestock tour portion of the recent Carrington Research Extension Center field day, on July 17, were brought up to date on many subjects. They were given the latest updates on certain segments presented each year – including the Dakota Feeder Calf Show and composting manure – but several new topics were also touched upon.

Growth regulators and beef quality – Kasey Carlin, associate professor at NDSU in the Animal Sciences Department, outlined some research work she’s conducted since 2013 on the effects of growth promoting technologies, such as implants, in meat quality.

Generally, meat quality was lessened with the use of growth regulators and part of her research was to find out why it lowers the meat quality.

With the use of implants, they saw a slight decrease in marbling and tenderness as determined by the shear force test. On the positive side, those calves with implants had larger ribeyes, they increased their carcass weight an average of 18 kilograms (40 pounds), which was huge for this project, Carlin noted, and their gain per unit of feed improved.

What the research has shown is the cells in the muscles of implanted cattle are slightly stressed.

“And when you have stressed out cells, they don’t convert muscle or meat as readily,” Carlin said. “And that is affecting our meat quality traits.

“And when you have really efficient cattle, their cells are going to appear more stressed. So when we are selecting for more efficient and leaner growth, and that may mean lower meat quality and make the cattle more susceptible to stressors.”

In closing, she indicated it may come down to identifying genetic bases for groups of cattle and some of those genetic bases will fare okay under the stresses caused by growth regulators, while other genetic bases will be better served with a more traditional feeding program that doesn’t use growth regulators.

STOP the truck program – By Jan. 1, 2019, every producer who delivers beef to certain packing plants will have to be Beef Quality Assurance certified, according to Lisa Pederson, who was recently named the Extension livestock specialist at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center in Streeter. She will also continue to head the Extension Beef Quality Assurance program.

Those delivering beef to Tyson, Cargill, Greater Omaha, and JBS will need a Beef Quality Assurance certificate, similar to the Pork Quality Assurance program. Before shipping cattle, producers will be encouraged to ask the following questions:

  • Did you check treatment records?
  • Are all withdrawal times met?
  • Are all body condition scores greater than two?
  • Can all animals stand and walk on all four legs?
  • Are all animals healthy?
  • Would you feed your family what you just loaded?

This fall Pederson will hold a series of training sessions for the Beef Quality Assurance program. She also noted that cattle transporters hauling cattle into one of the packing plants listed will have until Jan. 1, 2020 to become BQA transportation certified. Those training sessions will start next spring.

Producer training sessions will take three to four hours to complete and will cost $15, which will cover the cost of the certificate for the next three years, according to Pederson.

A future issue of Farm & Ranch Guide will have more details on this state program and where the training sessions will be offered.

Bunk management and dried distillers’ grain – Livestock tour participants had the chance to meet the new animal scientist at the CREC, Bryan Neville, who outlined work being done on feed bunk management while feeding dried distillers’ grains (DDG). Since sulfuric acid is used in processing DDG, feeding this product will result in production of hydrogen sulfide in the rumen. Much of the work is being done on producer-owned cattle that are in either the Dakota Feeder Calf Show or in the Angus University program at the CREC.

“We are feeding 25 percent of the dry matter diet as modified distillers’ grain and using two different styles of bunk management through adaptation – bunks that would be slick at the time of feeding and bunks that continuously have at least one inch of feed in them at the time of feeding. By doing that we create differences in behavior,” he said.

What the research has show thus far is that steers with constant feed in the bunk had a 30-40 percent greater concentration of hydrogen sulfide in the rumen. It was also noted that the steers with constant feed also consumed more feed. That difference between the slick bunk before feeding management was about 2.3 pounds per day dry matter basis, in favor of the constant feed supply, he noted. The difference in average daily gain was about 0.4 pounds per day, again in favor of the constant feed bunk management style, but when you look at feed efficiency, there was no difference.

In the future, Neville would like to use feedlot trials to see the results of feeding an even higher percentage of DDG in the ration, with rates as high as 60 percent of the dry matter intake.

Maximizing AI pregnancy rates – Finally, NDSU associate professor in the Animal Sciences Department, Carl Dahlen, presented work he has done showing the role human elements play in determining the success of an AI program.

“There are many ways that we can mess up – we have done everything right, but somewhere along the line the people messed up,” Dahlen said. “There are many things we can do to either help or harm our success in artificial insemination.”

These include things such as:

  • Calm handling practices of the cattle
  • Acclimation of the herd to the working facilities
  • Heat detection efficiency
  • Protocol compliance
  • Proper semen handling and insemination techniques
  • Avoiding heat stress for the cows

Dahlen concluded his part of the program with a demonstration on determining pregnancy in cattle using ultra-sound technology.