Improper Handling Negatively Impacts Carcass Quality

It’s estimated that 35 million dollars in damage occurs annually from bruising in U.S. beef animals. During the first session of the 2020 Ohio Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management School hosted by the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team, Dr. Steve Boyles, Ohio State University Beef Specialist, discussed how the improper management and handling of fed cattle during sorting and transport can negatively impact the quality of the end product. This is Dr. Boyles’ presentation as he described how the beef cattle industry can go about reducing the estimated 35 million dollars in damage that occurs annually from bruising in beef animals.

Kentucky Beef Cattle Market Update – May 23

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

Through the week, market reports consistently spoke of price improvement in Kentucky cattle markets. The combination of increasing slaughter at the national level and gradual reopening of the foodservice sector continues to slowly lead to improved prices for fed cattle. And, that general positive tone is spilling over into feeder cattle markets. Also encouraging this week was larger marketings at the state level, which were actually a little higher than last year. I don’t want to read too much into that because I don’t remember how Memorial Day fell last year. But, I am very encouraged that cattle runs have been closer to normal the last couple weeks and prices are continuing to steadily improve.

CME© feeder cattle futures actually lost a little ground this week with summer contracts closing, on Thursday May 21, 2020, in the upper $120’s and fall contracts in the low $130’s. CME© live cattle futures have been steadily gaining ground since late April; the June contract is well into the upper $90’s as I write this. However, this remains at a very significant discount to cash live cattle, which have traded in the $117 to $120 range so far this week.

On a state average basis, 550 lb M / L #1-2 steer calf prices increased by $1-2 per cwt this week. The calf market has very slowly and steady improved since the end of April, despite the grass placement run being largely over. The state average price for an 850 lb M/L #1-2 steer increased by almost $8 per cwt this week. There is no doubt that the market for heavy feeders has improved considerably, although I am afraid that price increase might be a bit misleading. The major increase was in the 800 to 850 lb range that I use as part of my 850 lb estimate. I always use the category without Continue reading

Market Disruptions

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

The May Cattle on Feed report released last week showed a lower level on feed compared to a year earlier. Despite wide ranges of trade estimates for placements and marketings, once averaged together they were close to the actual numbers for April 2020. Marketings were 76 percent of the level from last April, while placements were 78 percent of last April. The lower marketings were COVID-driven. The disruptions have also lead to an increase in slaughter weights. The estimates of cattle on feed for more than 90 and 120 days increased sharply at a time of year they would usually begin a seasonal decline.

After a low level of placements during March, placements were again lower during April. There has not been a clear pattern in placement weights; most categories have just been lower for a couple of months. For some perspective, an examination of feeder sales showed the largest slowdown during March. Using the LMIC’s compilation, Sales of Feeder and Stocker Cattle, the total volume of such cattle sold direct and through auctions was down 12 percent from a year earlier in April and down 47 percent from a year earlier in March. A rough estimation suggests about 0.5 million head fewer than normal did not trade in March and may not have yet traded. Some of the discrepancies may be due to AMS reporting challenges. However, the main takeaway is that there are a variety of weights of feeders that need to move to feedlots.

One marketing channel that has been disrupted is the Continue reading

Precision Technology Systems in Alfalfa

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford County, AgNR Educator (previously published in Progressive Forage on-line)

I was recently talking to one of my local farmers who uses precision agriculture to manage his corn and soybean crops. His combine, sprayer and planter are all connected to the cloud, and he uses the data from the last 10 years to manage next year’s crop.

We were discussing ways to use the data he collects to better manage the farm. As we looked at his data, some fields had four years of yield history missing due to his hay business. He commented that it is strange how we are still managing hay fields on a field scale, but the rest of his crops are zone managed; yet alfalfa is often his most profitable crop. How do we improve hay production zones without yield and quality data? There are tools available to better manage forage production.

There has been a surprising amount of work done recently in this area, including remote sensing for yield, quality and stand evaluation; developing yield monitors and soil mapping. Last year started out very disappointing for alfalfa growers in my area, with large areas winter-killed. As we started to assess stand damage, walking every field and accurately documenting damage was not Continue reading

Control of Multiflora Rose in Pastures

Dean Kreager, Licking County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

There is one pasture project that never seems to go away. That is controlling the multiflora rose. The plant was first introduced into the United States in 1866 to be used as a rootstock for grafting roses. About 70 years later the U.S. Soil Conservation Service promoted the use of multiflora rose as a “living fence” and a means of erosion control. The adaptability of this plant allowed it to get out of control. Over the years this plant has made the list of noxious weeds in many states and is taking over many pastures in this part of the country. The battle to gain control is difficult and maintenance is continual.

The leaves and thorns on this plant make it easy to identify as a rose. Left on its own, this plant can quickly form dense thickets over 6 feet high. The white flowers it produces in May to June lead to seeds that birds are more than happy to spread throughout pastures. One multiflora rose can produce up to 500,000 seeds per year. Once deposited these seeds can remain viable for up to 20 years. Seeds are not the only way this plant spreads. Stems that are in contact with the ground can form roots which become a new plant, and roots are also able to produce new plants.

What makes this such a problem plant? Most species of pasture animals do not eat multiflora rose. This allows it to out compete the plants the animals prefer to eat, and it takes over larger areas of pasture every year. Thorns can also cause damage to eyes and other sensitive skin areas. You probably have noticed how animals will leave a patch of grass around the multiflora rose. If you add up all the patches of pasture that are lost to these weeds it soon becomes Continue reading

Dark Cutters Result from Pre-Harvest Stress

Dark cutters at harvest are the result of pre-harvest stress and the elevated pH in the muscle caused by that stress. In this excerpt from his presentation at the 2020 Ohio Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management School, Dr. Steve Boyles goes into detail about specific causes, and how dark cutters might be prevented.

Coronavirus Food Aid Program (CFAP) Enrollment Begins Next Week

Yesterday USDA announced details of the Coronavirus Food Aid Program (CFAP), a relief program for farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible livestock for the CFAP includes cattle, lambs, yearlings and hogs. Non-specialty commodities that are eligible include malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat, as well as wool. Specialty crops included in the program are, but not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes.

Enrollment begins at Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices on May 26, and will continue through August 28, 2020. Participants do not need to have participated in FSA administered programs in the past to enroll. Depending on the age or class of the animal, and total program participation, cattlemen can be eligible to receive between $26 and $214 per head.

More details, including payment rates, can be found on this OSU Extension Fact Sheet, at or are available by contacting your local FSA office. Also, see the CFAP Payment Calculator Preview from USDA embedded below. Funding for the program is made available through the recently passed CARES Act which is an effort to provide relief to farmers who have seen markets impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

How’s current beef supply and demand impacting the ‘cut out’

Have you ever wondered exactly what the ‘cut out’ is? Recently, agricultural economists from across the Southern Region came together to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted meat markets. In this 11 minute conversation, they discuss supply and demand, and explain how it’s pushed beef ‘cut out’ values to uncommon highs.

Processing Increase and Beef Values

– Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

The month-long rally in the Choice Boxed Beef Cutout Value (BBCV) peaked at $475.39 per cwt on May 12 last week according to the USDA National Daily Boxed Beef Cutout Report. By Friday, the BBCV was $434.32. This report includes daily negotiated prices and volume of boxed beef cuts delivered within 0-21 days using average industry cutting yields.

The daily Composite Primal Values each turned slightly lower last week. Even with the sharp increases over the past month, the relative changes among cuts continued to show the differences between retail and foodservice sectors. The Rib value surged to a high of $546.59 on Thursday and declined to $522.81 on Friday. This was a 58 percent increase over the daily average from the first 11 weeks of 2020. The Chuck and Round experienced the largest increases at 144 percent and 136 percent above the first 11 weeks of 2020 using the daily negotiated value.

The recent declines in the BBCV coincide with continued Continue reading