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Dr. Jamie Courter is your Mizzou Beef Genetics Extension Specialist

By Jared E. Decker Many of you have probably noticed that things have been a lot less active on the A Steak in Genomics™   blog, but you probably haven't known why. In January 2021, I was named the Wurdack Chair in Animal Genomics at Mizzou, and I now focus on research, with a little bit of teaching. I no longer have an extension appointment. But, with exciting news, the blog is about to become a lot more active! Jamie Courter began as the new MU Extension state beef genetics specialist in the Division of Animal Sciences on September 1, 2023. I have known Jamie for several years, meeting her at BIF when she was a Masters student. I have been impressed by Jamie in my interactions with her since that time.  Dr. Courter and I have been working closely together the last 6 weeks, and I am excited to work together to serve the beef industry for years to come! Jamie holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from North Carolina State University and earned a master's degree in animal

Feeder Cattle Health: "Philosophy"

Dr. Robin Falkner
Zoetis Beef Technical Services
Talk at Mountaineer Cattlemen's College

We have put a lot of the blame for high-risk feeder cattle on the cow-calf producer. However, Falkner says it is the system, not the producer, that is to blame.

Pre- and postweaning factors affecting bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in beef cattle and the resulting outcomes of the disease. + = decreased incidence or consequence; − = increased incidence or consequence; ? = effects not fully understood based on the available data. BVD = bovine viral diarrhea virus. Figure 1 from Duff & Galyean (2007) Journal of Animal Science, 85(3), 823-840.

Falkner described how as his time since graduating veterinary school has passed, that he knows less but understands more.

When talking to Falkner, people want a recipe. He provides two recipes, one for Possumneck pudding and Biscuit pudding.  We spend a lot of time chasing the right "recipe" for cattle health. What we need to do is become better cooks. But even more important than being a good cook, is knowing how to run a restaurant. What is your business model? How can you meet your objective better?

Question: "If wages come from labor/work, interest comes from savings, and rent comes from real estate... from where does profit come?" The answer is that profits come from risk.

Risk and opportunity are synonymous. Unmanaged risks put you out of business. Managed risks provide opportunities for profit.

You own land. Land ownership is what drives the industry.

In the United States, 60% of our cattle are born in February, March and April. Calf prices are lowest in the fall because of this.

What is your business model? Where do you want your business to be in 5, 10, 25 years?

Falkner said, "The biggest obstacle standing in our way is 'That is how we have always done it.'"

Market access is going to be an issue moving forward. Look at the chicken, pig, and dairy industries for evidence of this.

We don't a beef packer; we have global protein companies.

Coming on January 1, 2019 there will be mandatory BQA to sell to Tyson. Also coming on that data, South Korea will use "block chain" technology to track the entire history of cattle.

Tyson has leased Progressive Beef.

Falkner describes an operation in Illinois that feeds cattle. They were dealing with heel warts. They were going to loose market access because too many of their cattle were limping.

"Technology is neither good nor bad; neither is it neutral."

 As business schools studied innovators and early adopters, they looked at the use of hybrid seed in agriculture. In 1957, they published Roger's Bell Curve. Only Innovators and Early Adopters survived.

Falkner talked about his great-grandfather being the first to own plow technology in his county. He was an early adopter. Falkner talked about his grandfather buying a tractor. But, he bought a tractor 10 years too late and bought a tractor that did not have advanced technology. The grandfather didn't follow the tradition of the great-grandfather of being an early adopter.  You don't need to do what your grandfather did, you need to do things in the same spirit as your grandfather.

What are the disruptive technologies in beef production?

  • Genetic testing
  • Advanced reproductive technologies
  • Marketing risk management
  • Health risk management
  • Market access

Technology that makes you more efficient is ruthless. That land that goes for sale, you may not be able to buy it because your more technology driven, efficient neighbor is the one who buys it.
Example, you can either sell extra gain from using an implant program or get a premium for selling calves that have not been implanted, but you can't be neutral. If you don't do either (use implants or differential market as no-implant), you will loose out.

Lots of people vaccinate their cows. Why should you vaccinate your calves? One is for financial, you can get paid more for vaccinated calves. The other is a moral reason; you shouldn't send out calves that are at higher risk for disease and death.

We are at a fork in the road between agribusiness and agriculture. Agribusiness is focused on profit and efficiency. It is about being in the top 25% of profitability. Agriculture is about culture, about a way a life.


Richard Warfield said…
Thanks for explanation on such an unique & important topic. Agriculture is a very important sector and plays a key role in the economic development of the country.The agriculture sector is the backbone of an economy which provides the basic ingredients to mankind.
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