Cow-Calf Profitability Expectations for a Fall Calving Herd

Kenny Burdine and Greg Halich, University of Kentucky Agricultural Economists

While calf prices have rebounded somewhat from the lows they made in fall of 2016, they remain down drastically from where they were two years ago, which continues to create challenges for cow-calf operators. Last fall, we provided an estimate of cow-calf returns to a spring calving cowherd given calf prices and expected costs. In this article, we will attempt to do the same thing, but will do so for a fall calving cowherd. Calf prices reflect this spring’s market and expected costs for a fall calving cowherd at Continue reading

Choice-Select Spread

– Brenda Boetel, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

The Choice-Select spread has widened in the last few weeks. Although it is occurring slightly early, this widening of the spread is a seasonally expected occurrence. This widening of the Choice-Select spread provides incentives for increased production of Choice beef as compared to Select beef. Over a 12 month period of time, the Choice-Select spread is typically narrowest in the January to March time-frame as the demand for Choice graded middle meats is at its lowest and the supply of Choice graded cattle is typically at its highest. In contrast, as we go into summer, the demand Continue reading

Feeder Cattle Price Volatility on the Increase

– Brian R. Williams, Assistant Extension Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

The cattle markets have been on rampage over the last few weeks, with October Feeder Cattle futures nearly hitting $160 during intraday trading at one point. That is way up from late March when prices were hovering around the $130 mark. But with the run-up in prices, we have also seen volatility increase substantially. There have been several days where trading was limit up or limit down over the last couple of weeks, which can put cattle producers at the edge of their seats. Demand has been Continue reading

Safety is Key for Young Farm Workers

Emily Buxton Adams, OSU Extension Educator, Coshocton County (This article appeared on May 7, 2017 in the Coshocton Tribune)

It won’t be long until hay season will be upon us. For some farms that means more labor than usual is required to get all the jobs done. That labor may include your own children or grandchildren. Today we’ll take a look at what the law allows and also consider what types of jobs kids are capable of handling from a developmental standpoint.

One great reference to guide these considerations are Continue reading

Implanting the Suckling Calf

While castrating and tagging young calves, consider using calfhood implants as a management strategy to maximize returns. Photo courtesy of Mitzi Goodman.

– Erin Laborie, Nebraska Extension Educator

The use of growth implants has shown to be an effective tool in increasing production from the ranch to the feedlot. Implants cause a delay in fat deposition and an increase in lean tissue accretion while ultimately changing frame size. These growth promotants have been reported to increase gains of suckling calves by four to six percent (Griffin and Mader, 1997). This can result in an additional 15 to 30 pounds of weaning weight, which equates to approximately $20 to $40 in returns per head. With the cost of a calfhood implant (Ralgro®, Synovex® C, Component® E-C) being Continue reading

Consider the Consequences of Bad Behavior

– Dr. Justin Rhinehart, Assistant Professor, UT Beef Cattle Extension Specialist

Temperament of cattle has long been recognized to influence production efficiency by having an impact on cattle handling and performance. More recently, scientists have suggested that flighty behavior of individual cattle can also affect the performance of the entire group. So, letting just one flighty calf slip past the sort could decrease the performance of the entire group. For humans, temperament is defined as the way a person thinks, behaves or reacts. For cattle, a good definition for temperament is the intensity of their “fight or flight” instinct.

Some of the performance measures that are impacted by temperament are health, feed efficiency, weight gain, dressing percentage and Continue reading

Cow Disposition Affects Pregnancy Rate

– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension

Now we have another good excuse to cull cows due to bad temperament. Producers that routinely breed cows artificially realize that cows that are unruly and nervous are less likely to conceive to artificial insemination.

Presumably the lowered conception rates were because they have been stressed as they are passed through the working facilities and restrained while being synchronized and inseminated. Now it seems that, even in the serenity of a natural breeding pasture, cows with bad dispositions are less likely to conceive Continue reading

Time to Act

– Stephen R Koontz, Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University

The fed cattle and feeder cattle markets have continued their impressive rallies that took off last week. Live cattle futures increased $15/cwt and better than $30/cwt since the beginning of April. Feeder cattle futures $20/cwt and $30/cwt since April 1. Do these rallies have legs or, in other words, are there underlying fundamentals that support these prices?

The fundamentals are there but are short term and will not Continue reading

Managing Spring Grass Growth and Selective Grazing

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County (This article appeared previously in the Spring 2017 issue of the Ohio Cattleman)

For most beef cattle farmers who are managing their pastures in a rotational grazing system two of the biggest spring challenges are the flush of rapid growth that will occur and selective grazing. While there are no easy management answers, if we review some basic plant growth biology and grazing principles, they may suggest some management strategies. Warning: this article may disrupt some conventional thinking.

We know that as spring progresses, grass growth will speed up. Our cool season pasture grasses produce about 60% of Continue reading

First Cutting of Forages is Fast Approaching

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

The warm temperatures this spring have stimulated growth of hay crops in Ohio and they are well ahead of normal development for early May. The only exception is where spring freezes significantly damaged the crop a few weeks ago. But for most stands, timing for first harvest of high quality forage is coming earlier than normal. Below are the optimal Continue reading