Kentucky Beef Cattle Market Update

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

In some ways, USDA’s July Cattle Inventory report brought some welcome news to cattle producers. Flat beef cow inventory and a decrease in beef heifer development suggested that the expansion phase of this cattle cycle may finally be over. I have always put more stock in the January inventory number, but this is the first report that clearly suggests a halt in expansion. Beef cow numbers were unchanged from a year ago and beef heifer development was actually down a little more than 4%.

Most all other estimates line up with this general overview. A slight decrease in the expected size of the 2019 calf crop is also good news for cow-calf operations who continue to struggle to see attractive returns to labor and capital. Cattle-on-feed numbers remain above 2018 levels, but this is largely a function of last year’s calf crop. A summary table from the inventory report can be found below Continue reading

Macroeconomic Volatility and Industry Specific Shocks Pressure Down Cattle Prices

– Elliott Dennis, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

The cattle markets have been through a wild ride this past week. Both the Tyson packing plant fire and USDA crop report has dominated market activity, commentary, and analysis. The news has caused downward pressure, in some cases limit down, on both fed and feeder cattle prices. This news is important, time sensitive, and will have both short- and long-run implications throughout the beef supply chain. However, even given this news the market’s reaction should be interpreted in the context of the macro economy the cattle market was already operating in.

Trade disruptions and greater uncertainty about economic stability were two ongoing macroeconomic issues spilling over into the cattle markets. First, Chinese trade issues continued to weigh on the agriculture markets. Effects were seen in corn and soybeans spilling over into the cattle markets. The markets avoided a sell off when President Trump delayed tariffs on Beijing till December. Cattle markets saw a response with Chinese purchases towards the end of this past week. In absence of China, several Continue reading

BQA: One Year Later

Garth Ruff, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, Henry County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Early last year I wrote an article titled Understanding Customer Relations in a Changing Beef Industry, which examined the factors that drove the demand for cattle producers to complete Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.

Now after a years’ time, with nearly 100 in-person trainings taught, and almost 7,250 Ohio cattle producers BQA certified in-person and another 2,100 online, where do things stand?

As a refresher, the push to have producers trained in BQA was at the request of Tyson, one of the major packers’ decision to only source fed cattle from cattle feeders certified in BQA by 2019. Tyson’s decision was largely due to the commitment of Wendy’s to do the same, at the demand of their customers. As we have seen in all segments of food production the consumer, now more than ever, wants to know how their food is produced. Often in the case of meat, consumers want to be assured that the animal was raised humanely and cared for under good production practices, the basic principles of any livestock quality assurance program.

In 2018, the majority of the producers certified, completed BQA training for the first time. Producer attendance Continue reading

Compaction; It happens in pasture lands too!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Compacted soils have a platy layered look, not a nice granular or cottage cheese appearance.

I have driven down a lot of roads lately and observed pastures and crops across Indiana and several other states. Most pastures are thriving better than crops, at least the ones being managed well. In the areas where rain has never really completely stopped, forages, especially cool season forages like orchard grass and tall fescue, have not slowed down growth as much during what is normally a slump period or summer dormancy. If you haven’t overgrazed, then there’s a good chance your pastures look pretty good.

There is a lot more variability in the crops depending on when or if they even got planted. Plants quickly got accustomed to the frequent rains this year and some get lazy and don’t put roots down as deep as normal. Well established perennials will do a better job of maintaining deeper roots than annuals or newly planted perennials under continued wet conditions. We need roots to Continue reading

Forward Contracting Activity

– Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, Ness School of Management & Economics, South Dakota State University

Seasonally, mid-summer is a relatively quiet time at most feeder cattle auctions. An exception are video and satellite sales, which often include feeder cattle for later delivery. In recent years sales volumes during July and August have been similar across fixed and video auction sites. For perspective, annual volume in 2018 was 10.7 million head at regular auctions and 2.0 million head at video auctions. An examination of recent prices of forward sales may give an indication of eventual cash prices and basis levels. Note that forward sales would be excluded from the CME Feeder Cattle Index.

Consider the recent sale at Northern Livestock Video Auction from July 22-24, 2019, which included a large volume of cattle from Northcentral states. There was just over 1,000 head of steers for current delivery. The rest of the volume was for delivery from August through January. Sales with November delivery dates are predominantly of calves and thus the expected weights are lower than the Continue reading

Disruption in Fed Beef Slaughter

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

Tyson’s Finney County, Kansas, facility suffered a fire late Friday, August 9. The good news is that there were no reports of injuries, a testament to the planning and operation of the facility and emergency responders. The bad news – for cattle markets – is that this plant will remain closed indefinitely. The fire is reported to have started in the box shop but major damage – as in a collapsed portion of the roof – was also reported. The Finney County facility is west of Holcomb and Garden City, Kansas, and is a major fed cattle slaughter and boxed beef fabrication plant. The plant slaughters approximately 6,000 head per day and between 27,000 and 30,000 head per week. This is 4.5-5% of the national fed cattle slaughter.

The impact of this event on fed cattle markets will be substantial. The market is in the middle of the third quarter: supplies are heaviest, slaughter weights are ramping up, and competing meat supplies will begin their fall increase. This is the quarter with the highest volume of beef supplies and forecasts are for sustained supplies into the fourth quarter. The week of August 12 will begin with 50,000-to-60,000 animals in the southern plains needing to go to a different plant than which they were originally scheduled. And that’s just the Continue reading

Forage Focus: Getting to Know Your Weeds

In this edition of Forage Focus, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County is joined by Clifton Martin, OSU Extension- ANR Educator for Muskingum County, for a segment on “Getting to Know Your Weeds.” Clifton and Christine will identify weeds commonly found in Ohio pastures and hay fields, and address the principles of managing them.

Preventing Pasture Damage During Prolonged Periods of Wet Weather

– David Hartman, PA Extension Educator, Livestock

Rotating livestock frequently can help reduce pasture damage during wet seasons.

Grazing cattle during periods of wet weather can damage pasture stands and soil structure. Although some damage is to be expected, there are management practices that can help to avoid or at least reduce some of the potential for damage.

Having a sacrifice area can help prevent damage to permanent pastures, especially if the wet weather conditions become very prolonged. Cattle can be moved to the sacrifice area and fed stored feeds until pasture soil returns to an acceptable condition. As should be done with winter sacrifice areas, the area should eventually be repaired with tillage if necessary and then reseeded to either an annual or perennial mixture, depending on your goals.

Moving cattle more frequently during wet weather can help avoid excessive Continue reading

Reseeding Workshop, Thursday

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

Noble County OSU Extension and the Noble County Soil and Water Conservation District will host a Pasture Reseeding Workshop from 6-8 p.m. at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (16870 Bond Ridge Road, Caldwell) on August 8. We invite all pasture and hay managers in the Noble County area to attend this free program. It includes a light dinner, presentations on equipment, seed selection, site preparation, and implementation. Call OSU Extension to RSVP at 740-732-5681 or email by August 6.

Representatives from OSU Extension and SWCD will help you come up with ideas for remediating areas damaged by this year’s chronic wet conditions. August is a great time to reseed, overseed, or Continue reading

Johne’s Disease and Detection in Beef Cattle – Part II, Recommended Herd Testing for Johne’s Disease

– Michelle Arnold, DVM, MPH UK Ruminant Extension Veterinarian

Johne’s (pronounced Yo-knees) Disease is a chronic, fatal disease characterized by profuse, watery diarrhea and weight loss or “wasting” in adult cattle (see Figure 1). Although it is a disease of mature animals, the infection most often begins when newborn calves nurse manure-covered teats contaminated with the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, commonly referred to as “MAP”. The major problem with MAP infection in cattle is that the disease remains hidden because diarrhea and weight loss do not develop until 2-7 years after infection. However, the infected animal will release or “shed” the bacteria during this “silent phase”, contaminating the environment and allowing more calves to become infected. (For more information about Johne’s Disease, see last week’s article: Johne’s Disease and Detection in Beef Cattle – Part I, Frequently Asked Questions). Control of the disease is based on three basic steps: 1) identify and cull MAP-infected cattle; 2) prevent exposure of young, susceptible calves to the bacteria; and 3) prevent Continue reading

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