NAHMS Beef 2017 Study

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Next month the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will launch Beef 2017, its fourth national study of U.S. beef cow-calf operations. Beef 2017 will take an in-depth look at U.S. beef cow-calf operations and provide the industry with new Continue reading

Capture Value Through Weaning

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Seems like I am a broken record lately. I keep hearing myself say only worry about what you can control and don’t fret over those things you cannot. As fall comes, it occurs to me that these words seem to apply to our beef farms. Everyone wanders when the peak in the market will be. Several ask when is the market going to drop?

Often we worry so much about what the markets will do in the fall, we forgot to focus on what we can control. Many calves make it to the market unweaned, something we can control. Time and time again, the markets show us that weaned calves bring more money than unweaned calves. Let’s consider Continue reading

The Value of Preconditioning Calves

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

Preconditioning is a generic term that means different things to different people and encompasses the different operating procedures that may be applied to a calf prior to shipping. Preconditioning activities may include weaning, vaccinations, dehorning, castration, and starting calves on a high energy diet. Several reasons exist for the cow/calf producer to precondition their calves, but the underlying goal is to increase the value of the calf being sold or the Continue reading

Perspective on the Cull Cow Market

– Livestock Market Information Center

The bulk of U.S. beef cattle operations wean calves in the fall months, and that is also when they select cows for culling and begin to sell them. Many cow-calf operations in the drought impacted northern High Plains states have already pregnancy checked their cows, which is earlier than normal. Most of those cows already have or will soon be sent to market.

Over a cattle inventory cycle (typically 10 to 11 years), seasonally cull cow prices typically are lowest in the fourth (fall) quarter of the calendar year (usually November and sometimes October or December). The long-term average decline in cull cow price is about Continue reading

Kentucky Beef Cattle Market Update

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

Following up from last month, the feeder cattle market has not pushed much higher, but has managed to hold its ground. At the time of this writing (September 8, 2017), most all CME© Feeder Cattle futures contracts were trading in the mid-$140’s. Fed cattle prices, which didn’t reach their annual lows last year until mid-October, still haven’t found a bottom for 2017. Slightly lower grain prices have Continue reading

Latest USDA Supply and Demand Estimates Lower U.S. Beef Production

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

The USDA released its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) on Tuesday morning, which should prove to be neutral to slightly bullish. U.S. beef production for 2017 was lowered by 140 million pounds from 26.699 billion pounds to 26.559 billion pounds while 2018 production was lowered by 85 million pounds to 27.275 billion pounds. There are likely a few things driving this reduction in beef production. One driver is Continue reading

Addition by Subtraction

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

Balloon teats are one example of an unsound udder. Udder problems affect milk production and consumption that in turn, impact weaning weights.

Weaning time is an excellent time to evaluate your cow herd and decide which cows get to remain in your herd as productive females. If they are not being productive for you, they need to be replaced by heifer calves retained from within the herd or by purchased bred females.

Cows and heifers leave operations for a variety of reasons. Ask a room full of cow-calf producers for the key reasons to cull a female from the herd. I would feel confident that the reasons would include any or all of the following factors: 1. Age or bad teeth; 2. Continue reading

First-Calf Heifers Require Different Management

– Jason Smith, University of Tennessee

First-calf heifers. Let’s face it – we all struggle with them at least to some degree. And it’s an issue that we face not just here in Tennessee, but across the entire country. If one comes up open, we’re faced with one of two choices. The first (and recommended) is to sell her, which will generally result in an overall loss on that female. The second would be to keep her, and try again next year. Will she get pregnant after a year off? Maybe. But how many of us can operate a profitable bed and breakfast where our guests don’t pay? Most of us can’t – myself included. So if neither of these are viable options, what is? Being proactive at preventing the issue. But before we address ways of doing that, there are few fundamental concepts that are important to understand.

So why are they so dang hard to get bred back? Or, come preg-check time, why is it that the majority of the open cows are coming Continue reading

Transitioning Calves from Receiving to a Feedlot Diet

Dr. Francis L. Fluharty, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University (Originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

When starting calves pull feed to the center of the feed bunk every 4 to 6 hours for the first 48 hours. Do this slowly so the cattle are intrigued, but not scared.

Transitioning newly weaned calves from a forage diet to a grain and grain byproducts based diet is a critical time period in the feedlot. Since many farmer feeders only receive calves once a year and fall weaning is just around the corner, here’s a quick reminder of things to consider.

Corn has twice the energy density, and twice the digestibility of most forages, so a pound of corn yields four times the amount of digestible energy as a pound of grass. Allowing animals an adequate time to adjust to corn, metabolically, is critical as the Continue reading

Why Antibiotics Fail

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL)

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) continues to be the most common cause of feedlot death loss, despite improved vaccines and expensive long-acting antibiotics formulated specifically against the bugs commonly found in a diseased bovine lung. Beyond death loss due to severe pneumonia, the costs of treatment (antibiotics) and prevention (vaccines), loss of production, and reduced carcass value in chronic cases must also be considered to understand the full economic loss to the industry. In the face of these challenges, consumers are increasingly demanding Continue reading