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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Bringing Quality Beef to the Middle East with Ohio-Israeli Project

November 20, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A unique collaboration between Ohio State University and Israel is creating opportunities to raise quality beef cattle in this Middle East country, giving producers a more competitive edge over countries that import cattle and providing consumers with a fresher product.


Fernando Silveira, an Ohio State University assistant professor with the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine on the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences campus, and Gene Steiner, a livestock management consultant with GSM, Inc., in Mason, Ohio, have been leading efforts to export Ohio bull semen to Israel and inseminating Israeli cattle. The resulting calves are intended to provide fresh, high-quality beef to consumers who have demanded fresh beef in recent years. The two-year project, in its second year, is a result of collaboration between Ohio State, the Ohio-Israel Agricultural Initiative of The Negev Foundation, and the Beef Cattle Breeders Association of Israel.

"Israeli beef producers have been looking to Ohio as a source for new feeder calf suppliers to answer their concerns about the health, wholesomeness, and performance of the cattle they import from other countries and their local supply," said Sarah Horowitz, program director of the Cleveland-based Ohio-Israel Agricultural Initiative of The Negev Foundation. "This project encourages researchers in both Ohio and Israel to share their knowledge and expertise about the cattle industry in their respective countries, which will create a better beef product for Israeli consumers as well as the opportunity for cattle farms in Israel to compete with the import of cattle and beef from other countries."

Israel currently imports about 150,000 feeder calves from Eastern Europe and Australia. The United States is prohibited from exporting beef cattle to Israel because of fear of diseases, such as mad cow.

However, based on the outcome of a trade mission to Israel two years ago, Ohio cattle producers, representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio State University beef cattle researchers, and Israel industry and government representatives determined that U.S. cattle genetics have the potential to increase efficiencies within the cow herd by adding calving ease, more weight and longevity to replacement heifers, as well as to produce a more desirable carcass.

As a result, the research collaboration was initiated to pursue the import of cattle genetics and increase beef production in Israel. One aspect of the effort was the introduction of new technologies that will make it easier and more efficient for Israeli cattle producers to prepare their cattle herds for artificial insemination.

"Many new products have been developed to help breeders synchronize a cattle herd's estrus cycle," said Steiner. "With this technology, a breeder can inseminate most of his cows in one day – which saves time and results in more early-season pregnancies, as well as bigger calves. Bottom line, this technology will help them generate more dollars from their calf crop."

Silveira and Steiner are currently in Israel to inseminate approximately 900 heifers and cows with semen of select Ohio Black Angus, Red Angus and Hereford bulls. Once the calves are born, researchers will monitor their growth and evaluate them for their production characteristics and meat quality.

"This is the first time in the history of Israel's cattle industry that cattle genetics from Ohio are being used to inseminate Israeli cows," said Sam Hoenig, the president of The Negev Foundation. "We expect the project to yield significant results."

The Negev Foundation ( is a Cleveland-based, non-profit organization dedicated to insuring Israel's future through the development of the Negev Desert region in Israel. The foundation oversees numerous international projects involving joint research and development programs, agritechnology and trade.

The Ohio-Israel Agricultural Initiative was established in 2002 and is dedicated to improving agricultural trade and research and development ties between Ohio and Israel by working with government, academic, and business entities and growers in both regions. The objective of this initiative is to foster greater collaboration between Ohio and Israeli government and research institutions, farmers, and companies; develop joint research and development educational activities; identify agribusiness ventures based on new technologies; introduce potential investors; and expand commercial ties and market access in both regions.

For more information on agricultural economic opportunities in Israel and the Middle East, please contact Sarah Horowitz at (216) 691-9997, or e-mail


Candace Pollock
Fernando Silveira, Gene Steiner, Sarah Horowitz