Does This Fall Market Offer Post-weaning Opportunities?

– Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

Earlier Josh discussed the record beef export levels that were seen for August. International trade continues to be a bright spot for cattle markets and fed cattle prices have not yet pulled back, as they often do in the fall. Note the seasonal decrease that is usually seen from summer to fall in the red line on the chart below as compared to blue line for 2021. However, calf markets have not managed to avoid their seasonal decreases, as can be seen in the KY price chart below for 550 lb steer calves. Fundamentals continue to look encouraging for improved calf markets next year, but we are seeing calf prices decline seasonally.


Calf prices make their lows in fall / early winter for several reasons. First, calf runs pick up as most spring calvers are selling weaned calves during this time. The timing on this is often Continue reading

Record Beef Exports During August

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

The latest estimates for beef trade were released last week by USDA ERS. These estimates included data for the month of August. Beef exports set a record during August 2021 and were 21 percent higher as compared to the same month a year ago.

Beef exports totaled 324.5 million pounds during August which is the largest monthly total on record for any month. This comes on the heels of the previous monthly record that was just set in May 2021. Beef exports have been very strong throughout 2021 as shown in the chart above. For the January-August period, exports are 21 percent higher than the Continue reading

USDA October Beef Outlook Report

Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County

The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA-ERS) released the latest Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook on October 18, 2021.  This monthly report provides an overview of production, use, exports, imports, and pricing.  The full report is available here:  This article provides a summary of the beef outlook report.

2021 Beef Production Forecast

Because of heavier carcass weights and increased cow slaughter, USDA-ERS increased beef production to 27.8 billion pounds from the previous month’s report.  The Agricultural Marketing Service collects slaughter weights each week as part of its Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection reports.  As of September 25, the average carcass weight for cattle was 829 pounds.  This is seven pounds heavier than the first four weeks of August 2021, but fourteen pounds less compared to September 2020.  Dressed weights of steers and heifers were also heavier in September when compared to Continue reading

Recent Trends in the Boxed Beef Cutout Value

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

Beef production involves the fabrication of a beef carcass into primal and subprimal cuts from which individual beef cuts are derived. Valuing a beef carcass involves working backward from these individual beef items. First, prices for beef cuts are combined to create subprimal values. Next, subprimal values are combined to calculate values for the seven beef primals: rib, chuck, round, loin, brisket, short plate, and flank. Finally, composite primal values are multiplied by their respective carcass yield percentages and summed to arrive at a beef cutout value for a specified quality grade (e.g., Choice cutout value). This is an oversimplification of the process, but the general idea is the same.

USDA-AMS reports boxed beef cutout values twice daily (LM_XB402 and LM_XB403) along with other Continue reading

Do’s and Don’ts of Local Beef

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

If you just glanced at the title of this column, you maybe surprised as to how the next few paragraphs unfold, however there are a couple of points that I want to make, and feel are warranted after seeing some misleading/untruthful advertisements for local/freezer beef here recently.

First off, I am a big supporter of local food production and direct marketing. When done properly in some production systems there are opportunities to capitalize on demand for locally produced food, serve as a direct link for consumer education, enhance economic sustainability of the farm enterprise, among other benefits.

I have taught dozens of programs on local foods and direct marketing in the last five or so years. In each of those programs I remind participants of these two things with regards to labeling and direct marketing;

  1. Do not misrepresent your product and
  2. Do not misrepresent or make false statements about the product of other producers.

Recently several friends of mine have shared with me several instances of both of the above scenarios. In one such instance a freezer beef producer’s (who shall not be named) attack on beef produced by other producers and the beef industry was Continue reading

September Cattle on Feed Summary

– Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

The September Cattle on Feed report was released on Friday afternoon, September 24th. Monthly Cattle on Feed reports provide an estimate of cattle inventory in feedlots with one-time capacity over 1,000 head. Based on a mid-year comparison to total cattle on feed numbers from the July Cattle report, these monthly reports account for about 84% of total cattle of feed. The September 1 estimate came in just over 11.2 million, which was about 1.4% below the 2020 level. Cattle on feed inventory has been running below year-ago since July. A link to the full report can be found here.

Placements did tick upward for the month of August. This is normal, but the magnitude of the increase from July was larger than one would typically expect. August placements were 2% above 2020 after being quite a bit below last year for July. It’s hard to read too much into this given how strange 2020 was. I also think it is very likely that Continue reading

Marketing as Part of the Plan

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman Early Fall, 2021 edition)

Plan now to make the most of your spring calf crop

While summer is winding down there is no shortage of things to keep a beef producer busy this time of year. Depending on the calving season of choice, we are either approaching fall calving or wrapping up the breeding season for some spring calving herds. There is still hay to be made and corn silage harvest is not too far away. Now is the time to manage some pesky pasture weeds and perhaps sneak in that last minute summer vacation.

I mention all the above in an effort to encourage producers to begin thinking about fall and making those management decisions that have positive impacts on the 2021 spring calf crop. So, before we think about kicking back and watching the Buckeyes on the gridiron, consider practices that will add value to the calf crop about to be marketed.

Feeder cattle prices continue to be strong, perhaps better than predicted during our cow-calf outlook program around the first of the year. While I am not an economist, my colleagues across the Land-Grant system contribute the strong prices in part to the slight Continue reading

Preparing for Weaning and Beyond

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Preconditioning programs for feeder cattle have long been recognized by the beef industry as a way for cow-calf operators to add credibility and, therefore, value to their annual calf crops. These programs prepare the calf for the known stressors ahead associated with weaning, transportation, and commingling that make calves more likely to get sick with bronchopneumonia, also known as Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD). Most preconditioning programs recommend starting vaccinations 2-3 weeks prior to weaning because it allows sufficient time to develop protection before natural exposure to the BRD “bugs”. At minimum, preconditioning programs require two rounds of viral vaccine (at least one must be modified-live vaccine or “MLV”) and Clostridial (blackleg) vaccinations, a Mannheimia haemolytica toxoid (“Pasteurella” shot), deworming, castration of bull calves and healed, heifers guaranteed not pregnant, and a minimum of 45-60 days weaned. Some programs require producers to use products manufactured by only one pharmaceutical company. In addition, weaned calves are expected to know how to eat from a feed bunk and drink from a fountain or tank but should not be over-conditioned or “fleshy”. Buyers prefer weaned calves that have been properly fed and with documented vaccinations and parasite control compared to similar quality non-vaccinated and non-weaned calves, which can translate to price premiums that vary in size depending on the Continue reading

Whole Herd Performance Data Reporting

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

This article is based on information by J. Bormann and M. Rolf. See: Beef Sire Selection Manual 3rd Edition, page 13

Some breeders choose to report performance data only on calves that they want to register. However, this is not in the best interest of either the producer or their customers as this practice leads to biased and inaccurate EPDs. Complete reporting of every animal in the herd is critical to obtain the best estimates of genetic merit. By only reporting the best calves, producers are inadvertently penalizing their highest-performing calves. In the following example, we will use weaning weight ratios to illustrate the effect of only reporting the best calves. Suppose we have 10 calves with an average adjusted weaning weight of Continue reading

Corn Market Update

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

Corn harvest season has started in some areas and should pick up in the major corn production areas of the U.S. over the next month or so depending on weather. There are still plenty of unknowns concerning the size of the U.S. corn crop, but information is increasing weekly. The latest Crop Progress Report shows 5 percent of the corn harvested across the 18 states in the report with most of the harvest occurring in the southern states at this early point in the harvest season.

Corn prices have dropped in recent weeks. The December corn contract closed today at $5.22 per bushel. This is down about 50 cents per bushel from mid-August and down even more from the peak back in the spring when the December contract was trading over $6 per bushel. In the graph below, weekly Continue reading