Evaluate, Adapt, Improve, Repeat

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

As I reflect over what we have worked through in the beef industry over the last 15 months, some of which being unprecedented times, I am fairly optimistic heading into the New Year. As we move into 2022 and hopefully past the worst of the COVID pandemic, there are opportunities to refine management practices that can have an impact on the bottom line going forward.

Those is no doubt that the pandemic, supply chain issues, and workforce shortages had major impacts on cattle prices the first half of 2021. However, what we have seen since late June is that fed cattle prices have been at or higher than the five-year average. A week or so ago, Dr. Kenny Burdine of the University of Kentucky, highlighted the following in his weekly cattle market notes, “Yet in 2021, fed cattle prices have trended upward since spring and did not put in a fall bottom at all. The last few weeks have been especially encouraging as prices have risen by more than $6 per cwt since the first week of October.”

Having wrapped up the OCA Replacement Female Sale, demand for replacement females remains strong, partly influenced by sustained strong cull cow prices and optimism in feeder calf prices looking ahead to the next marketing year.

If demand for beef and feeder cattle remain strong into the coming year, there is Continue reading

Weekly Livestock Comments for December 23, 2021

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

FED CATTLE: Fed cattle traded $1 to $2 lower compared to last week on a live basis. Prices on a live basis primarily ranged from $135 to $137 while dressed prices were mainly $217 to $219.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Wednesday were $135.55 live, down $1.62 compared to last week and $217.30 dressed, down $1.06 from a week ago. A year ago, prices were $109.03 live and $171.67 dressed.

Fed cattle prices made a good run to finish the fall months, but they have softened as the market has reached the end of the year. This is not unexpected as most packers will reduce slaughter days by 1 to 1.5 days each of the next two weeks. Simply stated, this meant there were plenty of slaughter ready cattle to meet the needs of reduced slaughter weeks. As slaughter levels ramp back to typical levels in January, finished cattle prices will be supported moving into March and April. The January and February market may continue to be sluggish relative to the late fall heroics, but prices should stay above $130 and push back to the Continue reading

Does Stockpiling Pay?

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Morgan County

For much of my career, I have worked with colleagues to try to figure out the best ways to reduce costs of feeding our cattle during the winter. I am still convinced that along with grazing corn fields after harvest, stockpiling grass, especially fescue is a great option. The how, when and what to do stockpiling grass is where it becomes “fuzzy”. From a scientific standpoint, after 32 years of various stockpiling research, all I can really say with statistical confidence today is that adding nitrogen will increase yields. Can adding a nitrogen stabilizer help? Maybe. Will urea volatize if it does not receive a ½” of rain within 48 hours? Maybe but likely not as much as we thought. Will adding nitrogen increase protein? Maybe but it likely depends on how soon the grass is fed and do the cattle really need the increased protein? Will adding nitrogen increase the endophyte levels? Maybe but depending on when the stockpiled grass is fed and cold temperatures, will it even be an issue? When is the best time to initiate stockpiling? I still am not sure from a science standpoint, but I will argue that the earlier you start stockpiling, the more you will have and the lower the quality will eventually be. When should you start grazing the stockpile? Likewise, the sooner you start grazing, the higher the quality will be and the lower the yield in the fall. If you wait until later in the winter to start grazing, the yield and quality will also start to decline from the weather and on my farm, and the deer can pressure yields.

Now comes the big question. Should we fertilize with nitrogen? For years, this was an obvious yes but now with the high prices, it is not. Our standard recommendation over the years has been to apply 100# of urea per acre and we would expect around 1000# of additional yield after several months. Right now with urea around $0.50 per pound, and during our three year three site study, yields increased only from 500-900# per acre with the addition of 46# nitrogen or 100# of urea. That makes the cost of an additional pound of stockpiled grass Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Tips for Weathering High Fertilizer Prices

– Chris Teutsch and John Grove, UK Research and Education Center at Princeton

Figure 1. Fertilizer price trends for nitrogen (urea), phosphorus (DAP) and potassium (muriate of potash). In the last 12 months fertilizer prices have increased more than 50% (Data from Russ Quinn at DTN).

In the last year, the cost of fertilizer had increased more than 125%, 85%, and 115%, for urea (nitrogen), diammonium phosphate (phosphorus), and muriate of potash (potassium), respectively (Figure 1). The price of nitrogen could continue to increase due to the idling of N manufacturing capacity caused by weather issues and increased natural gas and shipping costs. Nitrogen prices could conceivably reach $1.00/lb N early next year. So, the question becomes what management strategies ruminant livestock producers could use to manage soil fertility as fertilizer markets continue to experience volatility.

Management Strategies: No “Silver Bullets”

Figure 2. Few nutrients are removed from grazing systems. Nutrients enter grazing systems via feed, fertilizer, and nitrogen fixation in legumes and are recycled by grazing and deposition of dung and urine and decomposition of plant residue and senesced roots (Illustration by Chris Teutsch, UKY).

We wish we had a miracle cure for high fertilizer prices, but we don’t. And we would caution you to closely scrutinize claims from retailers of products that are offering you something that sounds too good to be true. One competitive advantage that well managed grazing systems have is that nutrient removal is very low and with good grazing management strong nutrient cycles can be developed (Figure 2). Below you will find some strategies that can be implemented to help you get through the current period of high fertilizer prices.

Soil test pastures and hay fields. You are probably saying to yourself why in the world would I even bother soil testing when fertilizer prices are so high. It is impossible to Continue reading

Grazing Management Minute: Conservation Practices

In ODA’s latest Grazing Management Minute, join ODA’s Jarrod Hittle, Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Jay McElroy and Guernsey County farmer Ty Caldwell to learn more about the conservation practices implemented on Ty’s farm as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Winter Application of Manure – Remember Setbacks

Glen Arnold, CCA, Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management

Incorporate manure to prevent run-off

Some Ohio livestock producers will be looking to apply manure to farm fields frozen enough to support application equipment. This is due to the wet weather in later October, November, and December that also stretched out the crop harvest season. Permitted farms are not allowed to apply manure in the winter unless it is an extreme emergency, and then movement of manure to other suitable storage is usually the selected alternative. Thus, this article is for non-permitted livestock operations.

In the Grand Lake St Marys watershed, the winter manure application ban from December 15th to March 1st is still in effect. Thus, no manure application would normally be allowed from now until March 1st.

In the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) watershed, the surface application of manure to frozen and snow-covered soils require there to be a growing crop in the field. This could be . . .

Continue reading Winter Application of Manure – Remember Setbacks

Turning the Page on a Year of Transition

– Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

In a lot of ways, 2021 was another frustrating year for cattle producers. Prices did improve this year for fed cattle, feeder cattle, and calf markets, but by relatively moderate amounts on an annual basis. When compared to price improvement for other commodities, cattle markets seem to have been a bit late to the party. Not to mention that CFAP payments offset some of the price regression in 2020 and similar payments were not available for 2021. While forage was relatively abundant in my area this year, some regions are the US are dealing with significant drought. And, it’s hard to grasp the damage done by the massive tornados of last weekend in much of the South, including my home state. Finally, changes in feed prices (and other inputs) have driven up production costs and impacted the value of feeder cattle and calves. Still, as I think about the future direction of cattle prices, I think that 2021 is likely going to be remembered as a year of transition.

It appears that we turned the corner on fed cattle supply and beef production this year. While beef cow inventory peaked in 2018, 2021 will actually end Continue reading

Placements and Marketings Expected Higher

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

The December Cattle on Feed report will be released on December 23rd.  This last report of the year will come out against a backdrop of the larger than seasonal increase in fed cattle prices over the last few weeks and rising feeder and calf prices.

Feedlot marketings are expected to be about 4.5 percent larger than November, 2020.  There was one more slaughter day this November implying slightly lower daily average marketings than last year.  If correct, these marketings would also be larger than in 2019.

Placements are expected to be up around 4.5 percent from last year.  Other than last year, that would be the smallest November placements since 2016.  Fewer feeder cattle were imported from Mexico during the month while Continue reading

Pasture Rental Rates. Do you Know Your Price?

Richard Purdin, OSU Extension, Adams County ANR/CD Educator

Have increased values of feed, cattle or fertilizer caused the value of rented pasture to change?

As the 2021 grazing season comes to a close, cattle producers are beginning to move cattle off the pasture into winter feeding lots or barns. This is also a great time of year to start planning for the next growing season. There are many factors that a cattle producer must consider these days when making plans for the 2022 grazing season. Two of factor that are hovering over cattle producers record books these days are, rising input cost and increasing land prices. With the recent improvement in feeder cattle and market cattle prices, many producers might be wondering if expanding their heard is worthwhile? With the increase in fertilizer prices neighboring landowners with hay land or idle grasslands might be considering cash leasing their land to that producer looking to expand. So how does one come up with a fair pasture rental price? Here are some options and consideration before entering a Continue reading

Judicious Use of Antibiotics-What’s Next for a Beef Producer?

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is continuing to implement strategies to promote the *judicious or appropriate use of antibiotics considered important in human medicine when they are used in food-producing animals. FDA’s goal is to curb the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and in turn reduce the risk of human infections that are difficult to treat due to ineffective antibiotics. On June 11th of 2021, FDA finalized a Guidance for Industry (GFI) #263, which outlines the process for animal drug manufacturers to change all remaining antibiotic formulations used in animal health care from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription status. Manufacturers will have two years from the date of issue to make this label change to their products. Basically, this means products commonly used by beef producers such as injectable penicillin and oxytetracycline (for example, LA-300) will no longer be available without a prescription as of June 2023.

The new GFI #263 is an extension of an earlier guidance published in 2013 designated GFI #213. As of January 2017, GFI #213 effectively moved all OTC antibiotics used in feed to Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) status and those used in drinking water to prescription (Rx) status as well as eliminated production uses such as growth promotion. Of the 292 drugs affected by this government directive #213, 93 products used in drinking water were converted to prescription status; 115 products used in feed were converted from OTC to veterinary feed directive status; and 84 were removed from the market. Production indications were withdrawn from 31 product labels. With full implementation of GFI #213, approximately 96% of medically important antimicrobials used in animals are now under Continue reading

Posted in Health