Freezer Beef Sales Explode During COVID-19 . . . Will Your Customers Be Ready to Buy Again?

Mike Estadt, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County

Do you know if your freezer beef customers are satisfied?

It is well documented that early in the coronavirus pandemic, major meat processing facilities across the United States became supply bottlenecks due to employee infections shutting down production.  In response to seeing less meat available in the retail case, or limits on the amount of proteins that a consumer could purchase, farm raised, direct marketed meat, especially beef, experienced high demand.

Today it is still unlikely that you can schedule the processing of a steer until the early part of 2021.  Due in part to limited space in coolers and limited workers skilled in meat processing, both custom and inspected processing facilities are struggling to meet the demand of producers wanting beef processed for direct sales to consumers.

Where is the beef supply currently and what can the consumer and local producer expect to see in the retail sector of the beef business?  Cattle coming to market are Continue reading

Beef Producers Should Consider Signing Up for CFAP-2

David Marrison, Extension Educator, ANR, Coshocton County

Deadline to sign-up for CFAP-2 is December 11, 2020

The COVID pandemic has created disruption in many areas of agriculture.  Instead of our usual market cycles, farmers saw prices move up and down in ways contrary to typical market cycles.  To help farmers mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, the Coronavirus Food Assistance program (CFAP) was released in April with program sign-up ending on September 11, 2020.

On September 17, the USDA announced additional assistance through a second version of this program titled Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2). Nearly all agricultural commodities are eligible for payments under this program.  These payments will be made for three different categories which include Continue reading

Cyanide poisoning and nitrate toxicity – Do you know the difference?

– Dr. Jimmy Henning, Extension Professor, Livestock Forage Specialist, University of Kentucky

Some aspects of forage management are just confusing enough that the same questions come up every year. Take the forage disorders, cyanide poisoning and nitrate toxicity, for example. Questions on these disorders come up anytime the forage sorghum species are grazed and especially in the fall as light frosts predicted. This article gives a quick reminder about these two forage disorders of cattle. (Cyanide toxicity is also called prussic acid toxicity or poisoning).

But first, you have to take a test. What follows is taken from an exam given to juniors, seniors and graduate students who took the UK Forage Management and Utilization class. Ready? Okay, here you go:

Please indicate whether the description below is true of cyanide or nitrate toxicity. In some cases either choice will be correct. (Answers below the Continue reading

Cattle on Feed Grows Again

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

The number of cattle on feed hit an October record in 2020, at 11.7 million head. Placements and marketings were up over a year ago, as well. Digging into USDA’s report a little deeper reveals some more interesting directions for the cattle market in coming months.

Marketings were up 6.2 percent over September 2019. Given one more working day in the month that means daily average marketings were above a year ago for the second month in row. The ability to slaughter more cattle per day, on average, than a year is welcome data considering all the adjustments forced on the industry this year. In terms of absolute numbers, marketings trend lower in the second half of the year, and that trend is holding this year, as well.

Placements were above a year ago also, up 5.9 percent. Larger placements might be seen in the light of sharply lower placements in March and April as response to corona virus effects. Kansas and Nebraska, two of the big three feeding states, had placements Continue reading

Online Mortality Composting Certification

Amanda Douridas, Champaign County Ag and Natural Resources OSU Extension Educator (originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

Multi-bin system with a concrete pad and wooden sides.

Composting livestock mortalities can be an efficient and inexpensive method of disposing of on-farm mortalities. Rendering facilities are becoming harder to come by and so are landfills that accept mortalities. Transportation costs are increasing as well. Composting offers a year-round alternative that may be more cost effective than other disposal methods. Once the compost cycle is complete, the finished product can be land applied to the farm’s fields as a nutrient resource.

To start composting livestock mortalities, one must complete a certification course taught by OSU Extension. This course teaches producers how to properly compost mortalities. It covers topics like where to place the compost site, how large of an area is needed, how to manage a pile to compost completely and efficiently, and the economics of Continue reading

Forage Focus: Baling Hay at Farm Science Review

In this edition of Forage Focus Christine Gelley of OSU Extension and Brent Raines of Krone North America discuss equipment and methods for baling dry and wet hay crops. Together they address features of balers on the market, options for bale wrap, setting bale parameters, and evaluating bale quality for all classes of livestock.

This demonstration was filmed on 9/23/2020 for Farm Science Review Online. Additional hay demonstrations from Farm Science Review featuring OSU Extension and 2020 Exhibitors are also available for viewing:

Is This A Year To Hold Calves?

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Extension Professor

This fall has provided us with another dry spell. The recent hurricane provided small amounts of precipitation to the Commonwealth, but much less than originally forecasted. Randomly selecting county Mesonet sites across the state for the month shows precipitation levels of 0 to 1 inch. Even with the dry conditions, we are much better off than the Western and Plains states (see figure below). Dry conditions appear to be forcing producers in the west to sell calves. Last week, Nebraska feeder cattle marketed were reported at 28,584 compared to 15,475 the week before. Colorado had similar increases selling 11,903 feeders compared to 6,660 the prior week. Wyoming another state hit hard by the dry conditions followed the same pattern moving 12,198 feeders this past week compared to 7,673 the previous week. It is not clear if this is strictly due to the dry conditions, the seasonal marketing pattern of spring calving herds or a combination of the two. Yet, when looking at the feeder cattle marketings for Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina, states in the green vegetation index area, numbers were steady showing no large increases from the previous week.

With the August cattle feedlot placements being above a year ago, drought conditions increasing cattle marketings and concerns over wheat pasture conditions, it would not be unexpected to see these factors impact fall feeder prices here in the southeast. I am not an economist so be sure to follow the markets and Dr. Burdine’s market updates as wells other industry news as we move through the fall to make informed marketing decisions. Current situations may mean backgrounding calves this fall, if you have forage, could provide an opportunity to Continue reading

Seasonality in Fed Cattle Transactions and the Role of Negotiated Cash

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

Alternative Marketing Arrangements (AMA) have once again taken center stage in the cattle market over the last several weeks. It is common knowledge that the use of AMAs varies by geographical region with Southern Plains feedlots using a larger share relative to Northern Plains feedlots. A long-standing issue is whether each geographical region is contributing a perceived appropriate amount of negotiated cash trade to aid in price discovery. This issue has intensified as the national level of negotiated cattle continues to decline. Lower cash prices and increased volatility due to COVID-19 government quarantine measures and the Holcomb Fire have appeared to intensify this issue among market participants.

In response to historically low cash prices, some industry organizations petitioned the government for further transparency and regulation in the feedlot-packer interface. The first proposed government legislation was the “50-14” rule led by Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) which sought to mandate large-scale packers to procure a minimum of 50% of all cattle purchased via negotiated cash for harvest in 14 days. There was strong industry response against mandating a level of negotiated cash trade, especially at 50%. The second, and most recent, was a bill introduced by Senator Deb Fisher (R-NE) that would authorize USDA to Continue reading

Value of Stocker Cattle

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

Calf movements will continue to increase over the next few weeks as the fall run picks up pace. Given the decline in the beef cow herd, the 2020 fall run will see lower feeder and calf supply compared to 2019. USDA estimated the 2020 calf crop will be down 260,000 head, on top of a 250,000 head decline last year. Since September, sale receipts for cattle weighing over 600 pounds is down 19% compared to 2019. What does this mean for all feeder cattle prices and the price relationship between different weights of feeder cattle?

Typically, one would expect higher prices with a tighter feeder cattle supply, however higher feed costs, poor wheat pastures and tight feedlot space have tempered any upward price movements.  Last week Iowa markets saw slight increases in prices for calves under 600 pounds, but prices declined for those weighing more than 600 pounds. Nebraska markets saw price declines for all but 5-600 pound cattle, and this price remained steady with the week prior. Note that feeder cattle prices tend to decline the greater the Continue reading

Solid Manure Spreader Calibration

It’s that time of year when hay and/or harvested grain fields are becoming available for the application of manure nutrients. Have you ever given thought to how much manure you might be spreading per acre? If not you might be surprised by the amount you are applying, and perhaps more importantly how easy it is to determine the tonnage being applied per acre. This brief video from the recent ‘virtual’ Farm Science Review explains a simple calibration process.

If you missed any of the ‘virtual’ sessions from the 2020 Farm Science Review, find them all archived here at your convenience: