Pork Exports Rely on China

World pork markets were disrupted the last couple of years, first by African swine fever in China, followed by a U.S.-China trade dispute. Then, in 2020, came COVID-19.

ASF drastically reduced pork production in China starting in 2018 and continuing into 2020. This reduction created a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. to increase pork exports to China to help fill the animal protein void in Chinese consumers’ diets. So, what has taken place in 2020?

Despite pork supply chain disruptions in the U.S. resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. pork exports have increased dramatically. From January through May, exports rose 21% above the prior year. But it’s clear that exports would have been even larger without the disruptions that occurred as COVID-19 infections caused processing plant closures and slowdowns. Continue reading Pork Exports Rely on China

How To ‘Beef Up’ A Dairy Breeding Program

By: Taylor Leach. Originally published by Drovers online.

Less than a decade ago, when a cow came into heat dairy producers could either breed her to conventional dairy semen or sexed. Nine times out of ten, the producer would choose the conventional option. Today, however, research shows that while conventional semen still ranks at the top, it is slowly becoming less and less popular amongst dairy producers.

“Farmers have [more] options nowadays with breeding,” says Victor Cabrera, an Extension specialist in dairy management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “About 40% of the semen [used on dairy cattle] nowadays is either beef or sexed semen.”

So, why the sudden surge in beef-on-dairy popularity? Perhaps it spurs from the low value for dairy bull calves, large dairy heifer inventories and the high cost of raising replacement animals. Though these are all rational reasons to consider breeding select cows in your herd to beef, it is important to not jump into the beef-on-dairy business too hastily. Continue reading How To ‘Beef Up’ A Dairy Breeding Program

Bunk Management; Impacts Animal Performance and Health

Feed bunk management plays an important role in both animal performance and preventing acidosis in the feedyard.

During the first session of the 2020 Ohio Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management School that was hosted by the OSU Extension Beef Team,  Dr. Francis Fluharty, Ohio State University Professor Emeritus and current Professor and Head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at The University of Georgia, focused a portion of his presentation on the significant impact that proper feed bunk management has on feed conversion, prevention of acidosis, and overall profitability. Here, in less than 8 minutes, Dr. Fluharty explains why bunk management is so important, nearly doubling the rate of gain and improving feed conversion by greater than 40% in one study.

Glenn Selk: Shorten Breeding Season To Produce Uniform Calf Crops

By: Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist. Previously published by Drovers online.

In low margin businesses such as cow/calf ranching, taking advantage of every profit-enhancing tool in the tool box is important to long term success and survival.

Well-defined 60-day breeding and calving seasons will pay off in heavier, and more uniform groups of calves to sell at marketing time.  If a small cow operation can market a sizeable number of calves together in one lot, it will realize a greater price per pound (on the average) than similar calves sold in singles or small lots.  Proof of this concept has been reported in at least 5 different states.  Studies in Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona have shown advantages in sale price for uniform lots of calves compared to singles and small lots (5 or less). Continue reading Glenn Selk: Shorten Breeding Season To Produce Uniform Calf Crops

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.

Thoughts Concerning the U.S. Beef Industry

By: Francis L. Fluharty, Professor and Head, Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia

The beef and pork industries are in a tremendously stressful period with Covid-19 causing temporary shut downs in several meat processing plants due to worker concerns over their health. This is having devastating short-term losses in all segments of the supply chain. I want to address a disturbing trend over the past few weeks where people claim that the current beef marketing system is completely broken, and that we need to go back to more small-scale packers and not import foreign lean beef. Continue reading Thoughts Concerning the U.S. Beef Industry

COVID-19 Impact on Ohio’s Beef Industry

By: Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Henry County

COVID-19 has had profound impacts on our food and livestock production systems here in the U.S. With regards to the beef industry the impact has been felt locally and throughout the country. Locally here in Ohio, with the JBS plant in Souderton closed, and reduced packing capacity in other regional packing plants, the local cash market for fed cattle has been greatly diminished. For the past two weeks, auction markets in the state have asked cattle feeders to hold off on bringing fed cattle to market due to packing plant closures and overall lack of packer demand.

Like most of agriculture, timing is critical for the livestock production supply chain to flow as it is designed. What is the impact of holding market ready cattle in local feedlots? Economically, cash flow concerns for small to medium size cattle feeders may arise as packing capacity remains limited. Immediate impacts for cattle feeders include increasing days on feed, selling heavier and potentially higher yield grade cattle once the market returns. Most packing plants have discount schedules of Yield Grade 4 and 5 cattle in addition to carcass weight specifications. Continue reading COVID-19 Impact on Ohio’s Beef Industry

Don’t Buy the Cheapest Mineral Out There

By: Francis Fluharty, University of Georgia Animal Sciences, and Stan Smith, OSU Extension

The mineral content of forages is always a concern when feeding the brood cow, but it’s of even greater concern after wet weather and rapid forage growth like that which was experienced the past two springs and early summers. In this 4 minute excerpt from the 2020 Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop, Dr. Francis Fluharty explains the benefits, and also his concerns for feeding the cow herd highly digestible minerals in the appropriate amounts.

Glenn Selk: Reducing The Risk Of A Calf Scours Outbreak

By: Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist, Previously published by Drover’s online

 (Adapted from “Neonatal Calf Diarrhea Complex” by John Kirkpatrick, DVM)

The ongoing human health issue (COVID-19) serves as a reminder to cattle ranchers about the importance of sound, common sense biosecurity measures that can aid in reducing the risk of a disease outbreak in the new 2020 calf crop.

Neonatal calf diarrhea (commonly called “calf scours”) is one of the most costly disease entities in the beef cattle business.  Fall-calving herds have the help of the hot, late summer/early fall sunshine to reduce the buildup and spread of the pathogens that cause calf diarrhea. Continue reading Glenn Selk: Reducing The Risk Of A Calf Scours Outbreak