March 18, 2019
Cattle and beef trade: 2018 summary, part 2
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
Total U.S. beef imports were 3.0 billion pounds in 2018, up 0.2 percent year over year and essentially unchanged for the last three years. Table 1 summarizes the 2018 rank and share of countries from which the U.S. imports beef.
Canada was the largest source of U.S. beef imports for the second consecutive year accounting for more than one quarter of total beef imports and up 6.8 percent year over year. Beef from Australia, which had been the largest source of beef imports for the prior five years, was down 3.1 percent, year over year in 2018. Beef imports from New Zealand were up 2.8 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year. Beef imports from Mexico decreased 11.4 percent in 2018, the first year over year decrease in imports of Mexican beef in ten years. In 2018, the top four sources of beef imports represented 84.9 percent of total imports.
The second tier of countries that export beef to the U.S. includes Nicaragua, up 17.6 percent over 2017 to a new record level of 5.2 percent of total beef imports. At number six is Brazil, up 2.2 percent year over year. Beef imports from Uruguay were down 4.5 percent from the previous year. The top seven countries accounted for 98.7 percent of total beef imports.
Table 1. U.S. Beef Import Markets, 2018
|Country||Rank||% of Total (2.999 bil. lbs.)|
Several factors explain the flat demand for imported beef in the U.S in the last three years. Australia continues to struggle with widespread drought coupled with livestock losses due to regional flooding. These are causing reductions in cattle inventories, beef production and exports. U.S. imports of Australian beef have declined four consecutive years. Moreover, a recent article published in Australia notes that China is now largest beef importing country (including unofficial and official imports) and that China has replaced the U.S. as the principal driver of world beef prices (www.beefcentral.com/trade/is-china-the-new-us-for-world-beef-trade/). As a result there is less of a tendency for international beef supplies to flow to the U.S.
The majority of imported beef is used as processing beef in the U.S. The growing U.S. cow herd in recent years (and resulting increases in cow culling) has increased domestic supplies of processing beef. Non-fed (cow and bull) beef production has increased 19.2 percent since the recent low in 2015 (compared to a 12.4 percent increase in fed (steer and heifer) beef production over the same period). Simultaneously, several fast food chains have increased use of fresh hamburger thereby reducing the demand for frozen imported beef in the production of ground beef. U.S. beef imports are expected to decrease modestly in 2019.
The third stage of calving: shedding of fetal membranes
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
The process of “calving” or parturition in beef cattle is defined by three stages. Stage I occurs about 4 to 24 hours prior to calving. The major event during stage I is the dilation of the cervix. Stage II occurs in about 30 minutes in adult cows and about 1 hour in first calf heifers (when all goes well) and is the time when the calf passes through the birth canal and is delivered into the world.
The third stage of calving is the shedding of the placenta or fetal membranes. In cattle this normally occurs in less than eight to 12 hours. The membranes are considered retained if after 12 hours they have not been shed. In some rare cases, the entire placenta is held in the uterus so there is no exposed portion. This condition may go unnoticed until the cow shows an abnormal uterine discharge or an odor characteristic of tissue degeneration.
Years ago it was considered necessary to remove the membranes by manually “unbuttoning” the attachments. However, research has shown that improper manual removal can be detrimental to uterine health and future conception rates. Therefore, manually pulling on the retained placenta is strongly discouraged. When a cow calf operator notices a cow that “did not clean” in 12 hours after calving, close observation is suggested. If the cow shows any signs of ill health, such as droopy ears, lethargic behavior, or poor appetite, this may indicate that an infection of the uterus has begun. Contact your local large animal veterinarian for the proper management of retained placenta.
Treatments that cause uterine contractions and eventual sloughing of the membranes may be prescribed. Also, prescribed administration of antibiotics usually will help against infection. As always, follow the proper withdrawal time, before marketing any cows that have been treated with antibiotics. More information about working with cows and heifers at calving time can be found at the Oklahoma State University Extension publication E-1006 “Calving Time Management for Beef Cows and Heifers”.