Sept. 11, 2017
September cattle market update
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
Feeder cattle prices in Oklahoma are currently about 10 percent higher than this time last year. Calf and feeder prices peaked in June, a later than usual seasonal peak for the calves and earlier than typical for the heavy feeders. Calf prices will likely decline a bit more to a seasonal low in October but are expected to remain higher year over year through the fourth quarter. Strong stocker demand for fall and winter grazing may limit seasonal price pressure this fall. Heavyweight feeder cattle prices typically decline seasonally through the end of the year but are also expected to remain above year ago levels. While prices may weaken seasonally, I don’t expect a repeat of last year’s October crash in cattle prices.
Fed cattle prices peaked significantly higher than expected in May and remained higher year over year through July before dropping the past month under summer seasonal pressure. Fed cattle prices are currently about five percent lower than this date last year but are expected to stabilize near current levels and increase seasonally in the fourth quarter; remaining above year earlier levels through the end of the year. Boxed beef prices have dropped sharply from June highs but appear to have stabilized recently. Choice boxed beef prices are currently very close to year ago levels while Select boxed beef prices are slightly higher year over year. Boxed beef prices are expected to increase some in the fourth quarter and average higher year over year for the balance of the year.
Beef production is expected to be up 4.0 – 4.5 percent year over year in 2017. Fourth quarter beef production will continue higher year over year but by a smaller amount than previous quarters. Higher beef production in 2017 is due to increased cattle slaughter with an expected annual slaughter total up 5.0 to 5.5 percent year over year. Heifer and beef cow slaughter are both up about 11 percent year to date, while dairy cow slaughter has increased to a year to date total up 3.7 percent from one year ago. Steer slaughter is up 3.3 percent year over year thus far in 2017 but is expected to total less than three percent annual increase by the end of the year.
Increased slaughter is, however, partially offset by lower carcass weights. So far this year, steer and heifer carcass weights have averaged nearly 14 pounds less than last year. Steer and heifer carcass weights bottomed in early May and are increasing seasonally. However, steer carcass weights are still nine pounds less than this time last year while heifer carcasses are currently four pounds lighter than one year ago. Fed carcass weights typically peak seasonally in October or November. The extent to which carcass weights remain below year earlier levels will be an important factor in moderating year over year increases in beef production in the fourth quarter.
In the face of increased beef production in 2017, cattle and beef prices have been remarkably strong. Retail prices have generally increased during the year and are at year ago levels despite the fact that per capita retail beef consumption is expected to increase nearly two percent this year. The domestic supply and demand balance has been helped considerably by decreased beef imports and increased beef exports. For the period January through July, beef exports are up 14.5 percent while beef imports are down 4.3 percent. Global beef markets are quite volatile due to a host of U.S. and global economic and political factors but beef trade is expected to remain a supportive factor for U.S. cattle markets.
Fenceline low stress weaning
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
Spring calving herds across the Midwest and Southwest will soon be planning to wean the calves. Some producers may wean the calves from young or thin cows during late September in order to regain some body condition before winter adds to the nutrient requirements. However, many herds will wean at the more traditional times of late October to early November. Calves that are enrolled in Value-added programs must be weaned at least 45 days prior to sale date. During those 45 days the calves must grow and gain efficiently. Therefore it is critical that these calves go through the weaning process with a minimum of stress and start to gain immediately.
Methods to reduce stress on the calves have become of great interest to producers. Therefore, weaning strategies have been studied in recent years. California researchers weaned calves with only a fence (Fenceline) separating them from their dams. These were compared to calves weaned totally separate (Separate) from dams. The Separate Calves could not see or hear their dams. Calf behaviors were monitored for five days following weaning.
Fenceline calves and cows spent approximately 60 percent and 40 percent of their time, respectively within 10 feet of the fence during the first two days. During the first three days, Fenceline calves bawled and walked less, and ate and rested more, but these differences disappeared by the fourth day. All calves were managed together starting 7 days after weaning.
After two weeks, Fenceline calves had gained 23 pounds more than Separate calves. This difference persisted since, after 10 weeks, Fenceline calves had gained 110 pounds (1.57 lb/day), compared to 84 pounds (1.20 lb/day) for Separate calves. There was no report of any differences in sickness, but calves that eat more during the first days after weaning should stay healthier. (Source: Price, et al. 2003. Fenceline contact of beef calves with their dams at weaning reduced the negative effects of separation on behavior and growth rate. J Anim Sci 81: 116-121.)
New research being conducted at Oklahoma State University has shown similar outcomes. Dr. Jared Taylor from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine recently reported the findings at the Academy of Veterinary Consultants. Fenceline-weaned calves had the best gains for the next 28 days of the trial compared to three other weaning methods. Source: Bovine Veterinarian
Producers that have tried Fenceline weaning will remind us that it takes good, well maintained fences and adequate water supplies for both sides of the fence. Remember, a large number of cattle are going to be congregated in a small area for several days. Therefore water availability for both cows and calves is critical. To wean and background, even for short periods, Fenceline weaning should be considered. More information about value-added calf programs can be found at the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network website: http://www.oqbn.okstate.edu/.
Cow-Calf Corner is a newsletter from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Agency.