Current Edition

current edition

2018 Midland

Simmental bulls in lots 825 through 835 brought average daily gain (ADG) scores above 3.4 and weight per day of age (WDA) postings over 3.15 at Midland Bull Test. The leaders in each category are listed below. 

The Simmental bulls will sell April 5, following the Salers, at the Midland Bull Test in Columbus, Mont. 

ADG leaders

The ADG category was led by lot 831, a consignment from Hebron, N.D. The son of Connealy Comrade 1385 has a final ADG of 3.82 and ADG ratio of 114, along with EPDs of BW -4.7, WW 64, YW 115, M 27, RFI 0.44, Eff 95 and MBT 103. 

Next, lot 830, a Blue Q Ranch consignment from Troy, N.C., came in second with a final ADG of 3.75 and ADG ratio of 112. The bull has EPDs of BW 0.3, WW 63, YW 83, M 5, RFI -0.29, Eff 107 and MBT 107. He also has a WDA of 3. 

Elm Creek Ranch of Hebron, N.D. also consigned the third-high ADG bull in the Simmental lot 933. His final ADG was 3.65 and ADG ratio was 109. The son of MR NLC Upgrade U8676 has a WDA of 3.81 and EPDs of BW 2.1, WW 89, YW 137, M 19, RFI 0.18, Eff 111 and MBT 112. 

Cloud 9 Cattle Co., LLC of Emerald Road, Wisc. consigned two bulls that tied for fourth and fifth in the ADG category. Lots 834 and 835 both posted a final ADG of 3.44 and ADG ratio of 103. Both bulls were also consigned by Yardley Utah Y361. 

Lot 834 has a WDA of 3.32 and EPDs of BW 2.1, WW 58, YW 78, M 11, RFI 2.31, Eff 95 and MBT 99. 

Lot 835, with a WDA of 3.17, also has EPDs of BW 2.1, WW 58, YW 78, M 11, RFI 1.30, Eff 90 and MBT 99. 

WDA leaders

Lot 933 led the Simmental bulls for WDA, with a WDA of 3.81. Sired by MR NLC Upgrade U8676, he has a final ADG of 3.65, ADG ratio of 109 and EPDs of BW 2.1, WW 89, YW 137, M 19, RFI 0.18, Eff 111 and MBT 112. The bull was consigned by Elm Creek Ranch of Hebron, N.D. 

In second, Elm Creek Ranch of Hebron, N.D. also consigned lot 832, another son of MR NLC Upgrade U8676 with a WDA of 3.35. The bull also showed a final ADG of 3.19 and an ADG ratio of 95. He also has EPDs of BW 0.1, WW 71, YW 116, M 23, RFI -1.04, Eff 102 and MBT 101. 

Cloud 9 Cattle Co., LLC of Emerald Road, Wisc. had the three high WDA, which was 3.32 for lot 835. With EPDs of BW 2.1, WW 58, YW 78, M 11, RFI 1.30, Eff 90 and MBT 99, the son of Yardley Utah Y361 also had a final ADG of 3.44 and ADG ratio of 103. 

In a tie for fourth and fifth place, Elm Creek Ranch’s lot 831 had a WDA of 3.17, as did Cloud 9 Cattle Co., LLC’s lot 834. 

Lot 831 also has a final ADG of 3.82 and ADG ratio of 114, as well as EPDs of BW -4.7, WW 64, YW 115, M 27, RFI 0.44, Eff 95 and MBT 103. He is a son of Connealy Comrade 1385.

Lot 834 is a son of Yardley Utah Y361 and has a final ADG of 3.44 and ADG ratio of 103, as well as EPDs of BW 2.1, WW 58, YW 78, M 11, RFI 2.31, Eff 95 and MBT 99.

More information about the Simmental bulls can be found on pages 104-105 of the Midland Bull Test Catalog. Final test data is available at midlandbulltest.com.

A producer went out and checked his calves. One of the calves was lethargic, had labored breathing, weight loss, droopy ears and a rough hair coat. The producer was sure the calf was coming down with a respiratory virus or pneumonia and gave the calf some medication. 

Two weeks later, the producer finds the calf dead. This producer assumes the calf died from pneumonia so he doesn’t have it necropsied. But, according to Joe Neary, who is a professor with the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech University, this calf showed classical symptoms of brisket disease or congenital heart failure. 

More than high altitude

Once called high altitude disease, Neary wants producers to know that brisket disease or congenital heart failure is not unique to high altitudes. 

“Brisket disease is not high altitude disease,” he states. “Historically, it was only found at altitudes over 7,000 feet, but that is no longer true,” he says. “We are seeing more and more brisket disease at lower altitudes all the time.”

Congenital heart failure is becoming an increasing problem. 

“We know this for sure in the feedlot industry, and since the cow/calf sector parallels the feedlot industry, it is likely occurring there, too,” Neary says. 

Diagnosis

Because the disease is hard to diagnose, Neary encourages producers to take a closer look at their sick cattle. 

“A calf may present signs of chronic pneumonia, but it may have brisket disease because they present the same,” he says. 

The only visible symptom that is directly related to brisket disease is the distention and pulsation of the jugular vein.  

“I would encourage producers to talk to their veterinarian about how to do a necropsy. It may turn out to be brisket disease that has gone undiagnosed for several years,” Neary says.

Heart disease

Cattle can have congenital heart failure from birth. 

Brisket disease is initiated outside the heart, starting in the pulmonary vessels. It passes through the right side of the heart, through the pulmonary vessels to the left side of the heart, eventually affecting the whole heart. 

Low levels of oxygen cause the pulmonary artery to contract causing the acute, rapid response all animals have when they are at a high altitude. 

If low oxygen remains, arteries thicken and contract down. Resistance increases, pressure increases, and the right side of the heart works harder to pump blood. 

Eventually, the blood backs up in the venous circulation causing a congestion of blood to increase in pressure in the venous blood. This causes water to move from the bloodstream into the tissues causing swelling in the brisket, under jaw, abdomen, chest and around the heart. 

Not all animals present the same way, so swelling may only be present in some areas.

If a calf with brisket disease is necropsied, water can be seen in the brisket region, the liver will appear mottled from the cells dying off, and fluid will be present in the sack around the heart. 

Taking action

Since pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) is a moderately to highly heritable trait, breeding stock can be screened to identify animals most susceptible to low levels of oxygen. 

“Those animals should be identified and removed from the herd,” Neary says. 

The PAP test involves putting a large-gauge needle into the jugular vein and feeding a catheter through the jugular vein, through the right atrium, through the right ventricle, up into the pulmonary artery. PAP is measured at that point. 

A couple years ago, Neary says 58 calves were PAP tested at three-months of age at a ranch at 9,000 feet. Of these 58 calves, seven died between three and seven months of age from brisket disease. 

“All of the calves were healthy at the time of testing,” he says. 

Selection

Since brisket disease is a moderately heritable trait, selecting on PAP should reduce the incidence of brisket disease in the calf crop, Neary says. 

In a study of 1.6 million feedlot cattle in Canada and the U.S., only three in every 10,000 cattle died from this disease in 2000, five times more calves than died from digestive disorders at that time. 

However, eight years later, the incidence of brisket disease had doubled in feedlot cattle. 

Neary says calves need to be screened at the cow/calf level, and those that have high PAP scores need to be managed differently. 

“Brisket disease is not high-altitude disease. It can occur at 2,000 feet or at 9,000 feet,” he states. 

The disease isn’t just a problem in the beef industry. Neary says brisket disease is also occurring in Holstein dairy heifers.

“It is the second leading cause of death, after pneumonia, in cows under 1.5 years of age,” he explains. 

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

When the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were published in 2015, many in the cattle industry remember the conclusions reached by the document, stated reducing the consumption of animal products would have benefits in terms of human health and environmental impacts. 

“Canada’s Food Guide and Brazil’s equivalent recommendations demonstrate that, around the world in both developed and developing countries, equivalent policy guides are coming out, making the exact same claims that reducing consumption of animal products would benefit human and environmental health,” says Robin White of Virginia Tech University. 

“This is no longer just a U.S. issue,” comments White. “It is becoming a much more global issue.”

Global discussion

First, White says any international recognition should ask, from a scientific standpoint, if there is an issue and whether these statements accurate. 

“If the answer is yes, we need to do something now to change our industry so that the answer becomes no,” she comments. 

White says livestock play a role in agriculture “by taking a small investment of human edible food and recycling that with additions of by-product feeds and inedible food that otherwise would not make it into the food production system and creating food, fiber, biofuel and other products that are utilized by the human component of our society.”

She notes fertilizer is also created. 

“What livestock are doing is capturing resources that would otherwise not be utilized and re-incorporating them into our system. This is a really important part of efficient and sustainable production,” White says. “But, not all people understand livestock in this context.”

The other side

Other literature is being leveraged in policy documents to indicate human health and environmental concerns with livestock production. 

“There are several ways humans could reduce use of livestock products,” White explains. 

The most extreme situation is elimination of livestock products entirely, which is the scenario that is most studied in the literature and is also the scenario she looked at in her research. 

“Although we might not think of it, existing literature on carbon and water footprints implicitly has this assumption of substitution,” White says. “If we remove the carbon footprint associated with beef, it will no longer be there, and they follow this idea of entire removal of products from the production system.”

Model-based evidence

Comparing different food products, White notes a paper from last year summarized carbon and water footprint. 

Across all categories, cereal grains have the lowest environmental impact and ruminant meat has the highest environmental impact per unit of product under the categories of greenhouse gas emissions, land use, energy use, acidification potential and eutrophication potential. 

Fresh produce, eggs, dairy, poultry, pork and aquaculture fall somewhere in the middle. 

“Carbon footprints of individual food products are not really representative of the way we consume foods,” she adds. “We wouldn’t consume a diet of only corn because it doesn’t meet our dietary requirements. We should be looking at diets, rather than individual foods.”

Diets

Considering entire diets makes the picture more complex. 

“The diets low in animal products have a reduced environmental impact, but they’re high in sugar and tend to be low in essential micronutrients,” White summarizes. “Although there may be benefits from the environmental side, when we look at a more comprehensive picture, there are concerns from the human health side, which raises the question of whether the statements in policy documents are fair, given the current body of knowledge.”

Further, the study doesn’t consider the feasibility of scaling low-environmental-impact diets to a national or international level, says White.

“We can all identify at least one or two crops that don’t work where we live,” she comments. “When they think about these diets, they assume agriculture would just adapt to whatever these diets demand, but we know that isn’t feasible.”

White says rather than asking what the ideal diet is, rather, the question should be geared toward how to feed people with what is produced in the U.S. currently. 

Research

White’s research quantified the impact of animal agriculture to U.S. society by testing the scenario of removing livestock entirely.

“We take data from USDA Agriculture Research Service and Economic Research Service about the yield and the weight of the used land in the country and aggregate the data about nutrients to estimate nutrients supplied from the land,” she says. 

The data is matched to U.S. census data and nutrient requirements for various age and gender-based populations to get what the actual nutrient requirement would be for the U.S. population. 

Finally, a nutrient balance is created to determine how the U.S. does at producing enough food for the U.S. without animal production. 

Results

After scrutinizing the data, the research team produced a paper, which is available online at no charge. 

“In a system without animals, we do have an increased total weight of food available, but if we compare what that food actually is, the vast majority of our food available in the system without animals is grains and legumes available,” White says.

She continues, “The remaining portions of fruits, vegetables, sugars, etc. remain fairly stable. The net change is an increase in the things we feed livestock – grains and legumes.” 

Healthfulness

However, the food produced is not reflective of the healthfulness of the diet, so they further analyzed the available nutrition from the system. 

“We have a tremendous availability of nutrients in our system without animals,” White says. “But, that is not the case for our nutrients.” 

In a system with animals, increased availability of calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, B12, DHA, EPA, arachidonic acid and alpha-linoleic acid. 

“Are those the nutrients that are already large on that graph? No. They tend to be many of the nutrients in the smallest supply in our food production system,” White says. “These are nutrients we think of as being most-limiting nutrients for the U.S. population.” 

As a result, decreasing their availability as a result of eliminating livestock may not be the best option.

Environment and economics

“We didn’t want to just discuss nutrient availability,” White continues. “We also wanted to look at additional considerations, like environmental and economic contributions.”

  In analyzing economic contributions for things like exports and jobs, White says livestock directly contribute 1.4 million jobs and $32 billion in export income. 

“Those are pretty strong numbers favoring the contributions to society,” she says. 

White’s team also looked at environmental contributions in terms of environmental footprint, noting that livestock provide 49 percent of agriculture’s carbon footprint.

“If we remove livestock, we don’t dramatically get a 49 percent improvement in the carbon footprint,” she emphasizes. “We only get a 28 percent improvement in agricultural footprint.” 

Further, the 28 percent reduction is only in the agriculture industry and doesn’t reflect the U.S.  carbon footprint, which is only reduced by 2.6 percent

White comments, “Most people would say 2.6 percent is probably not a tremendous payout.” 

Look for more information on White’s study in the March 24 edition of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..