Source: Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service | April 22, 2019
Record April feedlot inventories
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
The latest USDA-NASS Cattle on Feed report pegged April 1 feedlot inventories at 11.96 million head, 102 percent of last year and a record April level for the data series, which started in 1996. The 12-month moving average of feedlot inventories is just slightly less than the record annual moving average in January 2007, meaning that the average level of feedlot inventories the past year is just shy of a record level.
Regional differences in on-feed inventories were pronounced and likely reflect the impacts of winter weather. Feed lot inventories were up year over year in Texas (up 6 percent); Colorado (up 12 percent), Kansas (up 2 percent); and Oklahoma (up 2 percent). Feedlot totals were down year over year in Nebraska (down 4 percent); Iowa (down 4 percent); and South Dakota (down 4 percent).
March feedlot placements were up 4.8 percent year over year, following larger February placements. Monthly placements had declined year over year from September 2018 through January 2019. Total feedlot placements the last six months (October-March), which captures the majority of cattle currently in feedlots, is down 2 percent year over year. Placements were lower in Nebraska (down 11 percent) and Iowa (down 3 percent), both likely reflected weather impacts, along with Arizona; but were up year over year in all other reported states.
So far this year total feedlot placements have been 0.6 percent higher than last year. However, in those three months (January-March) placements over 700 pounds have been down 0.4 percent while placements of cattle under 700 pounds have been up 2.4 percent year over year. This suggests that the bulk of the recent placements will be marketed mid-year and beyond.
Feedlot marketings in March were down 3.4 percent year over year. However, March, 2019 had one fewer business days compared to one year ago so daily average marketings were slightly higher than last year. For the first three months of 2019, total feedlot marketings are unchanged from the same period one year ago.
The April COF report also included quarterly feedlot inventories. As of April 1, the number of steers in feedlots was 1.1 percent less year over year. Heifers on feed were up 7.6 percent year over year. Feedlot inventories by gender provide some indication of herd dynamics with respect to heifer retention. In the five years of herd expansion from 2014-2018, heifers in feedlots averaged 34.4 percent of feedlot inventories. On Jan. 1 and April 1, heifers accounted for 37.7 percent of feedlot inventories, indicating that heifer retention slowed significantly through 2018 coming into 2019.
Choice boxed beef cutout prices pushed seasonally higher last week as summer grilling season demand kicks in. Increased demand, combined with continued weather reduced carcass weights have pushed fed cattle prices higher to challenge and maybe replace the March peaks. Late last week live fed cattle prices were $130/cwt. with the Choice boxed beef cutout finishing the week near $234/cwt.
Using artificial insemination in very warm weather
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
As the breeding season for spring calving herds is getting underway, understanding heat stress in cattle takes on increased importance. Producers that choose to synchronize and then artificially inseminate replacement heifers or adult cows may have already started, or will begin the process in the next few weeks. If the hot weather arrives during the AI breeding season, some management and breeding alterations may be helpful.
For years, producers that bred artificially upon detected standing estrus (heat), would wait 12 hours before breeding the female in heat. If she was first observed in standing heat in the morning she would be inseminated that evening. If she was first observed in standing heat in the evening she would be inseminated the following morning. (This was called the AM/PM rule of artificial insemination.) More recent extensive research with dairy cattle has indicated that there is no significant advantage to the AM/PM rule.
Similar pregnancy rates have resulted from inseminating in the morning only compared to following the AM/PM rule. Plus new research at Oklahoma State University on the internal temperature of heat stressed cattle adds even more concern about handling and inseminating cattle in the evening.
Research with rumen temperature boluses has shown that the core body temperature of beef cows peaks at 2 to 5 hours after the highest daytime temperature (Pye, Boehmer, and Wettemann. 2011 ASAS Midwest Abstracts Page 104; Abstract 285). On a hot spring/summer day the highest daytime temperature is often late afternoon. Therefore the peak body temperature of cattle will occur at 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Elevated core body temperatures have been implicated from other research in reduced pregnancy rates in heat stressed cattle.
Inseminating all cattle in the morning hours would avoid the heat stress of evening breeding. Some would be bred at first standing heat, others would be bred at the conventional 12 hours after standing heat. If timed AI is the method of choice, cattle working (especially the actual insemination) should be scheduled for the morning hours.