Cow-calf producers, cattle feeders team up to boost sales of Michigan beef
Michigan cow-calf producers and feedlot owners are partnering to help maintain markets for Michigan beef, according to Dan Wyant, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA).
Wyant said that feedlots in Lower Michigan have had to import feeder cattle from southern states and elsewhere to fill their demand.
"We want to help farmers market their animals right here in Michigan," Wyant said. "Our calves are of the highest quality and for years have been shipped off to cattle feeders in other states."
"By working together, the Michigan calf producer and cattle feeder will both benefit," said John Molesworth, Veterinarian and Livestock Agent with Michigan State University Extension (MSU) in NE Lower Michigan. "The cattle and feed price outlook are very good for backgrounding feeder cattle this year."
Michigan cattle feeders have expressed concerns both with the TB regulations and feeding lightweight calves. Backgrounding the calves would help to decrease both of these concerns, Molesworth added.
Molesworth and Ben Bartlett, MSU Extension Veterinarian and Livestock Agent in the state's Upper Peninsula, are preparing a series of meetings for Michigan's beef cattle industry to help increase marketing options.
The meetings will be held in late August and early September in Hale, Escanaba, Bruce Crossing, Gaylord and Clare. Topics will include: retaining ownership; custom feeding and backgrounding; economics of backgrounding with a look at the risks and rewards; weaning; housing and feeding for the cow-calf producer and backgrounder; as well as financing and other considerations.
MDA Animal Health Liaison Kevin Kirk said producers have had several questions regarding animals heading to feedlots. Under the current proposal, there would be three types of feedlots operating in Michigan: terminal operations feeding and finishing cattle for slaughter only, cattle importation lots that may sell to other importation lots; and feedlots in which animals may go anywhere.
"We need to ensure that everyone understands the difference between a terminal operations (animals that are destined for slaughter only) and a farm or cattle feeder where cattle are fed and then sold to other farms," Kirk said. "We are currently working with the USDA, MSU and Michigan's cow-calf industry to assure that healthy, high quality calves are born and fed in Michigan."
"When amendments to Act 466 are passed by the Michigan legislature, MDA will have the authority to designate and approve terminal feedlots," said Bob Bender, Bovine TB Eradication Project Coordinator. "Terminal feedlot owners will have to conform to the regulations in the act and sell animals only to slaughter. Meat inspectors at USDA-inspected slaughter plants will inspect cattle before slaughter and the carcasses after slaughter, making this a safe, reliable way to ensure the quality of Michigan beef."
The Bovine TB Eradication Project involves a multi-agency team of experts from the Michigan Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community Health, Michigan State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.