Is Your Herd Focused on Meeting Demand?

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County (originally published in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

Despite the higher price, consumers want quality, and are willing to pay for it!

To say the least, suggesting it’s been a wild ride on the path to profitability in the cow-calf sector during this decade is an understatement. Beginning in 2009-10 cattlemen saw the most dramatic increase in cattle prices ever. From there prices climbed to the point where we experienced historic highs just four years later. As would be expected, at the same time consumers were experiencing historic high beef prices in the meat case.

What might not have been expected was that while lower overall beef supplies were causing these historically high live cattle and retail meat prices, demand by consumers for premium priced branded beef continued to climb Continue reading

Beef AG NEWS Today, the December Podcast; Outlook for 2019

In this month’s podcast of Beef AG NEWS Today, guest host Patrick Dengel visits with OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes as he shares his annual beef cattle outlook going into the new year. John discusses inventory, demand, recent and long term market factors, competing meats, and speculates on beef cattle prices for 2019.

Feedlot Management Mistakes that Can be Prevented

Regardless if you’re a “beginner” or an experienced cattle feeder, this recent one hour presentation by Dr. Francis Fluharty provides a comprehensive and fast moving overview of the basics of feedlot management. Many of you will remember Dr. Fluharty as the recently retired Research Professor in the OSU Department of animal Sciences, and currently the Head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at the University of Georgia.

Retail Beef Prices Strong Despite Increased Meat Supplies

– Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension

November Choice retail beef prices were $5.911/lb., up from $5.840/lb. in October and 1.8 percent above the November 2017 price of $5807/lb. However, the all-fresh beef retail price dropped to $5.603/lb. from the October price of $5.683/lb. The all-fresh price was also down 0.5 percent from the November 2017 price of $5.629/lb. For the year to date, the Choice and all-fresh retail beef prices have averaged 0.2 and 0.7 percent above last year for the same period.

Retail pork prices dropped in November to $3.701/lb. from the October level of $3.727/lb. and were down 2.2 percent from the November price of $3.786/lb. price one year ago. So far this year retail pork prices are down 1.1 percent year over year. The retail broiler composite price in November was $1.853/lb. down from Continue reading

Advantage Packers

– Matthew A. Diersen, Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Economics, South Dakota State University

Anecdotal evidence and supply observations suggest packers have recently had a negotiating advantage over feedlots. Packer margins continue to be wide and the supply of cattle on feed continues to be high. What indicators may be followed to support such assertions and shed light on the situation going forward? Margins, spreads really, and prices can be monitored. Committed and delivered cattle can be analyzed. Forward contract volumes can be scrutinized. Here is a look at each of these categories.

Packer margins are alluded to quite often. Usually analysts are referring to the spread between the sum of the cutout and drop (converted to a standard per-head value) and the price paid for cattle. The LMIC tracks this as the live-to-cutout spread, which has been wider than a year ago for several months. When spreads are very narrow, packers are assumed to be Continue reading

It Is a Matter of Trust

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

Changes on the horizon suggest that simply having the best PRODUCT is no longer enough, merely telling the best STORY is no longer enough, and delivering great CUSTOMER SATISFACTION is no longer enough. We must also elevate consumer TRUST.

Over the past week or so, two of the largest buyers of beef in the U.S. have placed stronger requirements for the beef they will purchase in the future. McDonald’s and Wendy’s have both announced major policies that no doubt have their customers and societal pressures in mind. These policies will surely have an impact on all facets of the beef industry.

McDonald’s has announced that they will be collaborating with suppliers and beef producers to measure and understand the current usage of antibiotics in their top 10 beef sourcing markets. They will establish reduction targets for medically important antibiotics for these markets by the end of 2020. Starting in 2022, McDonald’s will be reporting progress against antibiotic reduction targets across our top 10 beef sourcing markets.

McDonald’s stated overall approach to responsible use of antibiotics focuses on refining Continue reading

Time to Begin the Early Evening Feeding of the Spring-Calving Cows

– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University

Each year in December, it is time for a reminder to change the feeding schedule for part, if not all of the spring-calving cow herd.

It is generally accepted that adequate supervision at calving has a significant impact on reducing calf mortality. Adequate supervision has been of increasing importance with the higher price of live calves at sale time. On most ranching operations, supervision of the first calf heifers will be best accomplished in daylight hours and the poorest observation takes place in the middle of the night.

The easiest and most practical method of inhibiting nighttime calving at present is by feeding cows at night; the physiological mechanism is unknown, but some hormonal effect may be involved. Rumen motility studies indicate the frequency of rumen contractions falls a few hours before parturition. Intraruminal pressure begins to fall in the last 2 weeks of gestation, with a more rapid decline during calving. It has been suggested that night feeding causes intraruminal pressures to rise at night and decline in the daytime.

The concept is called the Continue reading

Feeding Raw Whole Soybeans to Beef Cattle

– Ruth Correll, UT Extension-TSU Cooperative Extension Agent, Wilson County

Soybean harvest in Wilson County was hit and miss this fall. Rainy weather prevented timely harvest. Some beans remain in the field and may not make the grade at grain elevators when harvested.

This leaves the dilemma of what to do with these beans to try and recover some of the costs of production. There is potential for feeding these beans to beef cattle but certain precautions should be followed.

Whole soybeans are usually processed by cooking. Unprocessed soybeans have several enzymes that can make them potentially a risk. Whole raw soybeans should never be fed to monogastrics such as horses and swine or young calves less than 300 pounds.

One of the risks is raw soybeans contain Continue reading

Moldy Feed and the Potential Effects on Cattle

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

Record-setting rainfall in 2018 has resulted in moldy hay and feed throughout the Commonwealth. Many questions regarding the safety of these feedstuffs and how to test them have come to the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UKVDL) as producers begin to feed these moldy products. While mycotoxins (mold poisons) are the main concern, molds themselves can adversely affect health and productivity of cattle. Ingestion of moldy feed or hay can potentially cause mycotic (fungal) abortion, respiratory effects, decreased feed consumption and rate of gain, and digestive problems. Additionally, molds can have effects on humans that handle the moldy feed. A wide variety of mycotoxins, not all of which can be tested for, can be produced in moldy feeds and hay under the right conditions, and ingestion of sufficient amounts of various mycotoxins can result in a large array of clinical effects. Testing is recommended but proper sample collection is crucial as samples must be representative of the whole field, cutting or batch. Although there is no foolproof approach to avoiding health effects, a practical approach involves testing suspect feeds in the ration, avoiding moldy feed if possible, and dilute with clean feed to minimize effects.

The presence of considerable mold in hay is a fairly common occurrence but when is too much mold a problem? Several laboratories have the ability to run mold spore counts (reported in mold spore count per gram) to help quantify the extent of mold present. Recommendations from Penn State Extension ( regarding feed risks with various mold counts are presented in Table 1. Generally, moldy hay is Continue reading

BBQ Townhall

– David P. Anderson, Professor and Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Monday, December 10th was the 5th annual BBQ Townhall, an event that I look forward to each year, held in College Station, TX. It is organized by my meat science (and BBQ gurus) colleagues. The day is for BBQ restaurant folks to talk about recent trends, observations, and, of course, meat prices. My role in the program was to present an overview of livestock markets, production, and prices for the coming year. This ITCM focuses on a broad overview of my comments from the Townhall.

First off, it’s important to remember that the audience is BBQ folks. Usually, readers of ITCM want higher prices because we are thinking about selling cattle. In this case, our audience is interested in lower prices, because they are buying.

There are two overriding themes in livestock markets, generally Continue reading