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 cause for some optimism in the industry in 2022. Of course, there remains continued concern regarding input costs over the next year.

To offset higher inputs costs producers will have to look at ways to either improve efficiency, increase revenue, or reduce input costs. Reducing costs in the areas of herd health and fertility can be even more costly. As producers look at ways at improving efficiency and maximizing potential of production systems, members of the OSU Extension Beef Team have started a research project that maybe allow for assisting in making herd management at the individual farm level.

About a year ago, I mentioned this idea of an on-farm assessment of management practices of Ohio Cow-Calf producers. After several iterations, the first phase of that assessment is online, as we look to better understand and serve clientele across the state.

By better understanding practices implemented by Ohio producers, we as in the OSU Extension Beef Team will be able to tailor programming more specifically to meet your needs. Furthermore, this survey might indicate potential for areas of research that we have yet to identify through current processes.

This type of project is nothing new, just new to Ohio. Our colleagues and counterparts in other states have been doing similar work over the years. Our goal is to take the knowledge gained regarding your production practices and be able to create better programming and recommendations that have a positive impact on farm efficiency and profitability. The survey can be found at go.osu.edu/ohiocattlesurvey. In the survey you will also see an opportunity for a follow up discussion with your county Extension agent or myself, where we will take a deeper dive into specific on farm practices in the areas of reproduction, heard health, facilities, forage management, and marketing.

Going into the New Year, I look forward to getting back to “normal” programming and working with cattlemen across the state. Registration for our winter statewide beef cattle programs will be available soon. Some program highlights are as follows.

Virtual Cow-Calf School: Monthly webinars looking at timely topics, Beef Market Outlook, Managing Mud During Calving Season, Beef Herd Health, and Beef Team Live.

2022 Feedlot School will be in both Mercer and Sandusky Counties on February 8.

2022 In-Person Cow-Calf School will be in Brown County on February 24.

For more information about upcoming programs stay tuned to beef.osu.edu and the Ohio Beef Letter. In the meantime, hopefully beef will be on the menu as you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.