May 23, 2008
Contact: Jessica Prosper, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin
Improving Beef Production Focus of NNY Ag Development Project
Beef producers in Northern New York want to raise animals of more
consistent quality. To help them do just that, the Northern New York
Agricultural Development Program is funding a beef quality improvement
project in 2008. The project includes the use of ultrasound and on-farm
skill development workshops.
Project leader Jessica Prosper, a farm business management educator with
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, says, �Knowing how to
grade cattle and evaluate carcass composition are critical skills for
beef producers and essential for the efficient production of lean,
consistent beef that consumers demand in today�s market.�
Prosper says, �Farmers who can accurately evaluate their animals on the
farm will be able to more effectively market their animals to a variety
of buyers in both local and conventional marketplaces.�
The National Agricultural Statistics Services reported 18,400 beef
cattle and calves were on farms in the six northern NY counties
(Clinton: 1,700, Essex: 6,000; Franklin: 1,900; Jefferson: 3,800, Lewis:
800, St. Lawrence: 4,200) in 2007.
Cornell Cooperative Extension educators will work with University Beef
Cattle Extension Specialist Mike Baker and Ultrasound Specialist Heather
Birdsall of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County on beef
farms across the Northern New York region. Ultrasound will be used to
measure the percentage of fat and the amount of marbling � the mix of
fat and muscle � in live beef animals.
Baker says, �Ultrasounding is a production tool that can provide a
reliable estimate of live animal composition. It can help demonstrate
differences in breeds and may provide evidence of management practices
that may or may not be practical or effective for finishing beef cattle
Improved grading skills can help farmers maximize profit potential.
Jefferson County beef producer Don Holman of Holmdale Farms in Adams,
NY, says, �Knowing when to send an animal to the market or the butcher
brings us a greater return on our investment in that animal.�
Knowing the amount of marbling assists farmers in gauging when an animal
has reached its optimal sale weight. Ultrasound is also a means of
determining if an animal has been overfed, which results in an
undesirable carcass and needless cost of production.
On-farm workshops in the fall of 2008 will explain the grading system
used to group cattle for sale at auctions. Producers will be able to
practice their grading skills, see how ultrasounding impacts grading
evaluation per the amount of fat and muscle shown by the ultrasound
results, and will view a �Hoof to Rail� video that compares live animal
grading with actual hanging carcass results.
For more information on beef production and livestock marketing in
Northern New York, go online to www.nnyagdev.org. The Northern New York
Agricultural Development Program is a farmer-driven research, outreach
and education program for Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and
St. Lawrence counties. # # #