An Indepth Look at the U.S. Beef Cow–Calf Industry

US - In October or November 2007, the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS)—part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)—will launch the Beef 2007–08 study.
calendar icon 5 September 2007
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The Beef 2007–08 Study

This national study marks the first time in 10 years that NAHMS has taken an indepth look at the U.S. beef cow–calf industry. Producers from 24 States* with the Nation’s largest beef cow inventories will be asked to participate in Beef 2007–08. The study will examine the priority health and health-management issues now facing the U.S. beef cow–calf industry.

How Beef Producers Benefit

By fully participating in the Beef 2007.08 study, you will receive several reports and information sheets that will allow you to compare your operation to others in the beef industry.

What Your Participation Involves

Participation in all NAHMS studies is voluntary. If you are selected to participate in Beef 2007.08 and decide to do so, representatives from USDAfs National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will visit you to complete a questionnaire. If you are eligible and choose to continue in the study, veterinary medical officers (VMOs) and/or animal health technicians (AHTs) will visit and explain further phases of the study.

  • NASS will contact selected beef cow.calf producers in October or November 2007.
  • VMOs and/or AHTs will visit from January through March 2008.
  • VMOs and AHTs will make a second contact from July through August 2008.

A Scientific Approach

APHIS established NAHMS to collect and report accurate and valuable information on animal health and management in the United States. Since 1990, NAHMS has developed national estimates on disease prevalence and other factors related to the health of U.S. beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, equine, poultry, catfish, and sheep populations. The science-based results produced by NAHMS have proven to be of considerable value to the U.S. livestock, poultry, and aquaculture industries. NAHMS studies are

  • National in scope,
  • Voluntary and confidential,
  • Statistically valid,
  • Scientific, and
  • Collaborative in nature.


Because NAHMSf studies rely on voluntary participation, APHIS protects the privacy of every participant. Only those collecting the data know the identity of the respondent. No name or address is ever recorded in any APHIS database. No data will be reported on any individual or in a manner that would allow the identification of an individual.


“The NAHMS Beef 2007–08 study is extremely important for the beef cattle industry and needs the participation of producers across the United States. This study provides valuable benchmarks for cow–calf producers, veterinarians, and animal scientists and truly takes the pulse of the cow–calf industry. In order for our industry to maintain its competitive position in the global economy, we must continue to evaluate management techniques, herd-health concerns, and food safety issues and be able to respond appropriately when needed to producer and consumer questions or concerns. The beef-cattle industry is critical to the economy of the United States and does an excellent job of providing high-quality food for people in the United States and the world.”

—Max Irsik, Beef Cattle Extension Veterinarian University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine

Study Focus

Beef 2007.08 is a national study designed to provide individual participants, stakeholders, and the industry with valuable information on 79.4 percent of U.S. beef cow.calf herds and 87.8 percent of U.S. beef cows. Beef 2007.08 will

  • Describe trends in beef cow.calf health and management practices,
  • Evaluate management factors related to beef quality assurance,
  • Describe record-keeping practices on cow.calf operations,
  • Determine producer awareness of bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) and management practices used for BVD control,
  • Describe current biosecurity practices and producer motivation for implementing or not implementing biosecurity practices, and
  • Determine the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance patterns of potential food-safety pathogens.

How You Can Help

By participating in Beef 2007.08, you will help the industry and your own operation by contributing to the development of reliable and valuable information that will be used to

  • Educate the producers and veterinarians of tomorrow,
  • Help policymakers and industry make informed decisions,
  • Measure the impact of disease,
  • Evaluate the potential impact of diseases affecting beef cattle and/or human health,
  • Assist researchers and private enterprise to identify and focus on vital issues related to beef cattle health and productivity, and
  • Conduct economic analyses of the health and production of the U.S. beef cow.calf industry.

Testing Options

Test results on biological samples will be provided to participating producers at the conclusion of the study.


Goal: Estimate the percentage of calves persistently infected with BVD virus by testing ear-notch samples. The study will also identify factors associated with herds having persistently infected calves. Food-Safety Pathogens Goal: Estimate the prevalence of specific food-safety pathogens such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157 via testing of fecal samples.

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