Saturday, September 15, 2001

Ky. cattle found improved in quality; initiatives cited

The Associated Press

        OWENSBORO — Initiatives by regional cattle producers to improve the quality of their herds seem to be paying off. A state system that tracked regional cattle after they were sold found the cattle were less likely to get sick and were of higher quality than cattle nationwide.

        Wayne Mattingly, Daviess County's extension agent for agriculture, said the tracking results show practices such as selective breeding and cattle vaccination have yielded results for local farmers.

        “We're making a lot of inroads into making farmers change their production habits,” Mr. Mattingly said. The results show that local cattle producers have a good opportunity to compete with producers in the bluegrass areas, he said.

        The cattle from across the state were tracked after they were sold and sent to feed lots, said John Johns, an extension professor with the University of Kentucky's department of animal science. Mr. Johns said once the cattle arrived at feed lots, the lots sent information back to UK detailing how regional cattle grew and whether they developed diseases. After the cattle were slaughtered, Mr. Johns said information about carcass quality was also sent back to Kentucky.

        The costs of tracking the cattle ware paid by a grant from the Five State Cattle Initiative.

        Mr. Johns said the goal of the project is to revitalize the cattle industry in the eastern corn belt — which includes Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

        This year, Mr. Johns said UK tracked 2,073 head of cattle from Owensboro, Glasgow, Paris and Logan County. The state has received carcass data on about 1,200 head of cattle, he said.

        “From a statewide standpoint, and from Owensboro as well, the cattle are much higher quality than we thought they were,” Mr. Johns said. “One-third of all cattle that go to feed lots get sick and have to be treated. But the sickness rate for (Kentucky) cattle was 4.5 percent, so we're pretty proud of that statistic.”


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- Ky. cattle found improved in quality; initiatives cited