By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Despite county wide flooding from the previous night’s six inches of rain, an estimated 90 members of the St. Clair County Chapter of the Alabama Cattleman’s Association met on the farm of Randy Bearden outside of Vincent for a field day to discuss current events, politics, and technological advancements in the industry. ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ was present to cover the event.
Alabama Cattleman’s Association (ACA) past President Donna Jo Curtis was the featured speaker. President Curtis said, “Thank you for being members of the cattlemen. We can’t all be in Washington. We can’t be all in Montgomery.” “We had a good year at the Cattleman’s Association.” Curtis said that the membership is not where they wanted it to be, but the ACA was working on that.
Curtis said that the ACA was trying to renovate their Mooseum in Montgomery. “We have between 10,000 and 13,000 students a year go through the Mooseum.” Curtis said that the ACA wants to upgrade it and make it digital. “We need to spark some interest in these younger kids to go into agriculture.” Some cattlemen have committed to donate one calf per year to the Cattleman’s Foundations to support the Mooseum renovations and the ACA is seeking corporate sponsors
Curtis said most consumers today are not from an Ag background. “I have been going to schools on career day. These people have no idea where their food comes from.” Curtis said that the average millenials decides what they want for supper 40 minutes before they eat.
Curtis said that the ACA headquarters is in a great location close to the Capital. The ACA holds breakfasts there for the legislators where they present the ACA view on the issues that we are dealing with right now.
Curtis said that the U.S. House of Representatives have passed their version of the farm bill. The U.S. Senate has passed their version so maybe we can get a farm bill passed.
It has been revealed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released some personal information about farmers and ranchers to activist groups. PETA is going to be using drones to spy on farmers and hunters.
Curtis said that every part of the cow is used. Parts of the carcass are used in asphalt, tires, deodorant, tooth paste, sheet rock, medicine, and vaccines. The lungs and tongues are exported to Egypt and other countries where those organs are commonly eaten. The bones become bone china in China, the collagen is used as lubricants for jet engines. Ingredients found in jello, cookies, and cakes come from the beef carcass and the intestines are used for sutures in surgery. Camel hair brushes are really made from cow hair. The industry has found a way to get a dollar value out of every part of the animal.
Curtis said that the ACA tries to use Checkoff money to do the most good for our industry and our state and asked the cattlemen present to present their ideas on how to use the beef checkoff dollars.
Curtis said, “I love what I do. I believe in what we do and I want to do what we do the right way.” Curtis told the cattlemen if you use antibiotics keep records and use them the right way. Antibiotic resistance has become a big issue and animal agriculture is being thrown under the bus.
Curtis said, “I am proud to be a cattle producer and proud to be a working American. A lot of Americans are not. Working Americans are a minority now. Curtis told the cattlemen to invite people out to their farm. “Tell people what you do. Invite them to your farm. Talk to people in the store, in the Sunday School class. We all need to step up and tell your story. We need to step up and tell our stories. Tell why we are cattle producers and how we do what we do.”
Pell City Large Animal Veterinarian Dr. Kenneth McMillan said that ranchers needed to isolate purchased animals to prevent disease. McMillan recommended getting the cow herd on a vaccination program with their local veterinarians.
“You have got to have a good solid vaccination program.”
McMillan said that he preferred modified live vaccines. Killed vaccines are safe in pregnant animals. Modified live vaccines are not so to use the modified live vaccines ranchers needed to have their cows on a controlled breeding season. McMillan said that modified live vaccines are much more effective and cheaper.
“Get with your veterinarian and find out what you need to be vaccinating for.”
McMillan also recommended having a veterinarian check every bull for breeding soundness before turning them out with the cows. McMillan warned that anaplasmosis was becoming a problem in the area.
McMillan said that there are a lot of people in the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) that would like to see that there is never an antibiotic used in an animal. “We have to make sure we don’t lose the public relations battle.” “FDA may not be our enemy but they certainly are not our friend.” “You can’t legally get an antibiotic prescription without a valid client relationship with a veterinarian.”
“People don’t understand our product. 71% of millennials say they prefer the taste of chicken over beef:
that is scary to me.”
An Agrilabs representative displayed a new device that is very similar to paint ball guns that has been approved by FDA to treat cattle for horn flies and lice. The paint ball like projectile strikes that animal and bursts and then the animal’s natural oils carry it all over the animal’s body to protect it from insects. “This is brand new. It will be available in June.” The paint ball like treatments don’t scare or scatter the cattle and the work can be done from the back of a horse or even from a pickup truck. He suggested that you dry fire it a few times around the cattle before you use to get them accustomed to the noise before use. It reduces stress on the people and reduces stress on the cattle while addressing blood sucking horn flies which costs ranchers an estimated $billion a year in lost animal performance.
The EPA was very supportive of the product because it reduces the potential for human exposure to insecticides. It is not a dewormer at this time, but that should be coming in the future. It is not approved for horses.
Dr. McMillan said that be sure to use this (or any fly treatment product) on all the cattle in a herd or you are asking for insects to develop resistance to this.
Rhonda Johnson with the Alabama Farmers Cooperative gave a presentation on wind and rain mineral. “We are in the south. We had 6 inches of rain last night moisture is going to get in the mineral feeder.” Johnson said that wind and rain minerals have a lower cost per head per day when weather losses are accounted for. 4 ounces per head per day is the target consumption.
The mineral content in hay and pasture is very variable so most ranchers in Alabama need to supplement their herd with trace minerals as well as calcium and phosphorous. The coop also has fly control that can be fed with the minerals.
Ms. Johnson said flies are a huge drain on cattle in Alabama and high magnesium minerals with fly control can be cost effective. Minerals help with pregnancy rates and helps with milk production in the beef cow herd.
The Pell City Extension Office gave a presentation on fire ant prevention. Fire ants can be a large problem in Alabama and in some fields there are over 200 mounds per acre. It hurts cattle production and can damage hay equipment and the insects are an invasive species that are not native to Alabama. There are four products labeled for pasture. They are all bait products. The ants take the bait and take them back to their nests. Amdro-pro kills the ants. It takes one to four weeks from application. Two other approved products are insect growth regulators. They attack ant fertility. Since the life of a fire ant is only 60 to 180 days it kills the nest by preventing the next generation from hatching. Extinguish plus does both. Fall is best time of year to treat fields for fire ants, but nothing is 100% effective.
The cost of treating a field is $10 to $12 an acre and needs to be done once a year or once every other year. Fields re-infest because the juvenile queens have wings and fly from infested farms to re-infest new territory. The bait spreader is mounted on a pickup truck. Ants will forage and pick up that bait. Ants don’t like heat so won’t be actively foraging above 90 degrees so don’t treat fields when it is hot.