“Take maximum advantage of the current cycle's remaining good years,” writes “Market Advisor” columnist Harlan Hughes. In “Six steps to an optimal marketing plan,” page 10, Hughes provides an outline for devising the optimal marketing plan for your 2005 calves.

How often should a pasture be renovated? Only once in your lifetime if your management is up to snuff, writes grazing guru, Jim Gerrish on page 28. In “Manage pasture to make it last,” Gerrish delivers the blueprint for making it happen.

“I still harbor serious doubts,” reiterates Auburn University's Jean Weese on the connection between BSE and the human form known as variant Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). In “Still no proven BSE-vCJD link,” on page 30, the nutrition and food science professor says the eventual answer may surprise all of us.

What happens to your calves after they leave your ranch? Kansas State University's Dan Thomson tells Wes Ishmael as many as 10% die in the feedlot unless they've been properly preconditioned. “More Than Money,” page 32, explores the proper practices to ensure their survival.

Beef is the No. 1 dried snack food meat, but it's light-years behind chicken in the high-moisture finger food area. In “Both Winner and Loser,” contributor Walt Barnhart tells how new snack brands like T.G.I. Friday's are entering the market, and what beef needs to do to make inroads into the high-moisture finger foods business, on page 56.

Protecting animal and human health and ensuring a safe food supply is the mission of the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL), director Jim Collins tells BEEF Associate Editor Stephanie Veldman. In “Keeping Watch,” on page 64, Collins encourages producers to use the lab, or those similar to it in other states, to ensure their herd's health.