Time to Roll Up the Sleeves

– Dr. Les Anderson, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Unfortunately, the beef industry sits in the middle of a downturn in the market. When the market is low and margins get slimmer, pressure is on cattlemen to get more efficient in their production. Efficiency is a word that is thrown around in the beef industry but what does efficient production look like?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines efficient operation as “effective operation as measured by a comparison of production with costs (as in energy, time, and money)”. Interesting. Unfortunately, in the commercial beef cow-calf industry, we don’t spend enough time discussing or thinking about being an efficient operation.

Efficient beef cow-calf operations control the calving season. Having a short calving season establishes the base for efficient production allowing producers to implement their health, nutrition, and marketing programs more easily. Research from Oklahoma State University and Texas A&M University (Parker et al., 2004) has shown that Continue reading

Manage Stockpiled Forages Efficiently

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Cows happily grazing stockpiled forage. (Chris Hollen photo)

I’m not really sure where this year went. At least for me, it seems like it should still be October, but the weather outside indicates a different message. Grazing activity for a lot of producers starts slowing down this time of year. If you are still grazing, and I hope you are, then you are probably grazing stockpiled forage, fall-planted annuals, or crop residue or a combination of all three.

I would encourage everyone to manage this forage efficiently. Allocating it out in smaller allotments is certainly worth pursuing. The smaller the portion allocated; the shorter the grazing period, and the higher the efficiency. You want this feed to last as long as practical and still meet the livestock needs. At this point, you are basically “feeding” standing hay but with some exceptions – no tractor, mower, rake or baler required, and the waste products are automatically redistributed back to the place of origin where they will do the most good. Now, it does take Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

2018 Forage and Cover Crop Performance Trials Available

– Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist and John McCormick, OSU Senior Research Associate

The 2018 Ohio Forage Performance Trials Report is available online at https://u.osu.edu/perf/. The report summarizes forage yield data collected from forage variety trials in Ohio during 2018, including commercial varieties of alfalfa planted from 2015 to 2017 (3 trials), annual ryegrass planted in September 2017 (1 trial) and cover crops planted in September 2017 (1 trial).

The trials summarize yield performance of 34 alfalfa varieties and 11 annual ryegrass varieties. The cover crop trial summarizes stand establishment and ground cover development in the fall after a mid-September seeding in 2017 and winter injury, ground cover and spring biomass production in the spring 2018 of 22 cover crop varieties including rape, turnip, annual ryegrass, radish, Balansa clover, winter pea, and hairy vetch.

Posted in Forages

Is There an Optimal Weight for Marketing Calves?

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

There have been a few questions the past two or three weeks concerning the optimal weight to market calves and feeder cattle. These questions hinged around the weight that would return the largest profit.

The answer to this question changes continuously. Whether a cow-calf producer or a stocker producer, each producer needs to Continue reading

Cull Cow Market Struggles to Find a Bottom

– Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Livestock Marketing Specialist

The cull cow market likely reached a seasonal low in November but it has been difficult to understand this market this year. Prices for Breaker cows in Oklahoma City averaged $50.13 per hundredweight in November, nearly 11 percent lower year over year, while Boning cows averaged $47.88 per cwt., over 16 percent down from one year ago. Cull cow prices have been counter-seasonally lower year over year from May through October and have averaged 13 to 15 percent lower year over year for the last seven months.

Cull cow prices typically begin a slight recovery in December following the November seasonal low. Cull prices average a much stronger seasonal increase after Jan. 1, increasing by 6.7 percent in January from the November low; with February up 16.2 percent; March up 18.75 percent; April up 19.6 percent and May up 21.1 percent all from the November low. From current levels, this would suggest breaking cow prices of Continue reading

Kentucky Beef Cattle Market Update

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

After holding pretty well through the early part of the fall, Kentucky calf markets finally made their seasonal drop in October and November. As can be seen in figure 1, prices for a 550 lb steer fell by roughly $10 per cwt from September to November. This may have been slightly more decline than usual due to delayed marketings from fall forage growth and cold / wet conditions in November. Regardless, we are at our typical seasonal lows for the calf markets and prices tend to increase from now until spring. Heavy feeder cattle prices have decreased as well with large groups of 850 lb steers largely in the $140’s. Many of these groups were in the $150’s a Continue reading

Managing in Mud

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Trudging through mud that’s only dew claw deep can reduce animal performance by as much as 7%

As most of Ohio quickly approaches the record for the wettest year in history, cattlemen continue to deal with the ramifications caused when it gets wet in February, stays wet throughout the spring, and summer, and continues wet into winter. The result is more than just a forage quality issue . . . it results in MUD! Whatever happened to the adage, “One extreme follows another.” We’ve certainly got to be due for a stretch of “extremely dry!”

While mud is, at best, an inconvenience when it comes to managing most any aspect of a farm – especially a beef cattle farm – it also can easily evolve into a livestock health and nutrition issue. In an article on Feedlot Mud Management that OSU Extension Specialist Steve Boyles published here a few years ago he suggests that Continue reading

Cause and Effect

– Justin Sexten, Ph.D., Director, CAB Supply Development

We sometimes associate cause and effect without knowing the real link, or as an academic buzz phrase has it, “correlation does not equal causation.” A quick search provides a humorous example. Did you know ice cream sales and shark attacks are highly correlated? While true in a broad sense, the actual reason for similar seasonal trends is that hot weather brings greater ice cream consumption as well as more swimming along beaches where sharks lurk.

Examples in the beef production model are many: vaccines’ ability to prevent pinkeye, growth attributed to a change in feed ingredients, treatment success with the most recent antibiotic. Then there’s the supposed link between weaning success and the moon’s position relative to constellations of stars. While I have never seen any data on the relationship between lunar or zodiac signs and calf weaning success, I wonder if another factor comes into play. Those who follow the signs must plan ahead, so this Continue reading

Weekly Livestock Comments for November 30, 2018

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

FED CATTLE: Fed cattle trade was not well established at press as bid and ask prices were separated by as much as $8 on live basis. Prices are likely to settle near un-changed compared to last week.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $115.46 live, up $0.09 from last week and $183.08 dressed, up $1.59 from a week ago. A year ago prices were $120.68 live and $190.05 dressed.

Cattle feeders and packers were slow to agree on a price this week with cattle feeders asking $4 to $5 higher prices than the previous week while packers were bidding $3 lower than the prior week. It is highly unlikely the market will move much in either’s favor compared to week ago prices given the somewhat stagnant nature of live cattle futures following the Thanksgiving holiday. Cattle feeders should still hold some leverage over packers at this point in the Continue reading

Mexico’s Impact on Cattle on Feed Placements

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

Mexico historically has been an important source of feeder cattle for U.S. cattlemen, with feeder calf imports of approximately 1 million head a year since the mid-1980s. Imports grew from 702,000 head in 2008 to their peak in 2012 at 1.44 million head. The largest portion of Mexican cattle imports typically enter the U.S. as feeder calves between 200-700 lbs. Lightweight calves are backgrounded to gain additional weight before entering U.S. feedlots. These Mexican feeder cattle contribute to cattle on feed placements at varying amounts throughout the year.

2018 feeder cattle imports from Mexico through the month of October total 898,000 head, a 5 percent increase over the same period in 2017. Feeder cattle imports over the last 5 years, have been highest in the months of November and December and typically drop off in January. Many of these lightweight calves are turned Continue reading