Thanks for bringing to light the importance of deworming in a herd health program (“Double Trouble,” April, page 22).

We agree with the USDA research that showed deworming two to four weeks prior to vaccination can aid the animal's response to vaccination and lead to better protection against respiratory disease.

However, the article states that producers must gather cattle twice once for deworming and again for vaccination in order to realize the immune response benefit.

But by deworming cattle with non-handling formulations such as Intervet's Safe-Guard® mineral, blocks and feed additives two to four weeks before the planned vaccination, producers need only to handle the cattle once at vaccination.
Mitch Johnson
Intervet Inc.
Millsboro, DE

Andrea's Progress

Thank you to those who responded to our family crisis last summer and to the many who continue to inquire about our daughter Andrea's condition. It's been 13 months since Andrea was burned in the July 2000 fire, and she is doing well.

Her skin grafts are healing. She's regaining her strength and range of motion in her arms and legs (though some of her ankle tendons remain stiff after being burned away).

There will always be scarring, and constant effort is needed to keep her range of motion (grafted areas tend to shrink and tighten). She must be diligent in protecting herself from sun, heat and cold since the grafted skin has no sweat glands, oil glands and few nerve endings.

She is, however, getting her life back. She began riding her horse in April and has helped move cattle. She also drove the tractor to harrow the fields this spring and is determined to help with the haying.

Andrea still goes back to Salt Lake City for check-ups, and she devotes some of her time helping and encouraging other burn victims and their families.

She is grateful to the many BEEF readers who kept her in their prayers and encouraged her with get-well wishes along the difficult road to recovery.
Heather Thomas
Salmon, ID

These Are My Observations

I'm writing in regard to John Barton's May issue response (page 34) to David Pratt's April column (“The Hidden Cost Of Cows,” page 80).

I didn't read Pratt's article and may be going out on a limb, but I believe that Barton's response explains how most ranchers think and why we make so very little progress in this industry.

My guess is that most everything listed in Pratt's article is based on simple science and has been proven through trials many times over with enough numbers to be statistically significant. Meanwhile, Barton uses his own science with zero statistical significance.

He begins with a correct statement fast growth truly is a masculine trait. The rest of his analysis, however, is homegrown baloney.

The problem with our industry is that more people make decisions based on what they hear from their neighbor at the sale barn rather than applying sound science to achieve better results and produce a better product more efficiently.
Dale Effertz
Mandan, ND

Mega-mergers Spell Trouble

This is in regard to the May story on what a Tyson/IBP merger would mean to the beef industry (“Teaming Up,” page 40).

Here we go again. Now, eliminating competition is not only good for “our” industry, it may even raise prices?

How can anyone who truly believes in the capitalistic system as practiced in the U.S. believe such a thing? Surely, your readers cannot be as gullible as the individuals quoted seem to believe.

With the poultry industry used as the merging acquisition, it should be very evident that the “success” of that industry befell only the processors/wholesalers to the total elimination of the independent producer! But Bill Helming says, “I don't see any downside to this trend. The positives outweigh any possible negatives.”

Wow, what a statement. And rereading the entire article very carefully brings about many other such “light bulb” moments.

I would only hope the people in the cattle industry below the packer/wholesaler fight this “trend” to the end and give our industry an opportunity to survive with producer economic input instead of extinction.
Ron McNear

Grass-Finishing Advice

Could a U.S. cattle producer find a niche raising and finishing cattle on grass instead of producing a grain-finished, high-quality beef carcass?

I recently visited some grass finishing ranches in Hawaii. I realize there's a difference in the climate and grass between the West and Hawaii, but they are marketing grass-finished beef there. Would it be economically feasible on the mainland?
Keith T. Weber

Harlan Hughes responds:

Your idea of producing grass-fed beef for the hamburger market is interesting. The challenge is to produce that grass-fed beef at a low enough cost.

Let's assume a retailer is selling hamburger for $1/lb. of processed weight. If we adjust that $1/lb. slaughter weight assuming a 61% dressing percentage that $1/lb. goes to 61¢/lb. of live weight. Cattle can be produced for that price, but you must consider wholesaling and retailing costs and margins.

For discussion, let's use 20¢/lb. as our wholesaling and retailing costs, and let's assume that the packer's slaughter and grinding costs are 15¢/lb. When we deduct these costs against our price received/processed pound ($0.35 × 0.61 = $0.21), we drop the live animal price to 40¢/lb.

Can you produce grass-fed beef for 40¢/lb.? Perhaps, but only a thorough economic analysis of your costs will tell you for sure.

Send reader letters, with name and address, to BEEF, 7900 International Dr., Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55425; or e-mail to BEEF reserves the right to edit for length.