Texas crop, weather, for Aug. 18, 2015

Source: AgriLife Today

Cattle prices continued their upward climb in the past week, according Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service regional reports. And as cattle prices continued to be high, the rate of cattle rustling was rising.

cow-redbarn“The rates of cattle theft have been high for a couple of years, but the perception is they have been rising again lately,” said Dr. Jason Banta, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, Overton.

Larry Gray, executive director of law enforcement and theft prevention services for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, confirmed this perception.

“Cattle are a very valuable commodity right now,” Gray said. “And like any other commodity, when the supply goes down, prices go up. We’re beginning to get back into the restocking phase.”

There are 30 commissioned peace officers who serve as special rangers for the association. The rangers typically investigate about 1,000 agricultural crime cases and recover an average of $5 million in stolen cattle and assets for ranchers annually, Gray said. Among other duties, the special rangers investigate thefts of cattle, horses, saddles, trailers and equipment, along with instances of poaching.

This year alone, Gray said the association has investigated 405 cases of cattle theft, which constituted a total of 3,974 head.

Click below to listen to an audio summary of this week’s report, including an interview with TSCRA’s Larry Gray.

The thefts include “cows, yearlings, heifers, calves – all mixtures,” he said.

One thing that makes cattle rustling easier for thieves is Texas law does not require branding of cattle, Gray said. And many producers, particularly those with smaller operations, do not have resources to brand their animals.

“Thieves love to prey on unbranded cattle. Many times they will pass up branded cattle in lieu of unbranded cattle, because they know they’re hard to identify.”

Gray said the U.S. Department of Agriculture will not approve implanting of cattle with electronic ID chips because of fears the chips will get into the food supply.

The most number of head stolen at one time is usually equal to how many the thieves can load in their cattle trailer, he said. But even the theft of one head will usually constitute a felony theft.

“With a 500-pound calf bringing $3 a pound, that’s $1,500,” Gray said. “And then you’ve got cows bringing from $2,000 to $3,000.”

The association offers a cash reward for information leading to the arrest and/or grand jury indictment of thieves, he said. The hotline number is 888-830-2333.

“Anonymity is guaranteed,” Gray said.

The association also has a list of cattle and rural crime theft prevention tips at http://bit.ly/1Mwtb6r.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service district reporters compiled the following summaries:

The 12 Texas AgriLife Extension Service regional districts.
The 12 Texas AgriLife Extension Service regional districts.

Central: The region remained rainless, but soil moisture was mostly in fair condition. Crops and livestock were rated as good. Rangeland and pastures were also rated as fair, but were declining due to lack of moisture. The corn and grain sorghum harvests continued, with yields widely variable across the region. There were not many suitable days for fieldwork because of the heat. Pecans looked good. Producers continued cutting and baling hay.

Coastal Bend: Isolated showers in the afternoons brought a little relief from the high temperatures and dusty conditions. In most cases, the occasional afternoon showers were not heavy enough to shut down harvesting. The corn harvest was expected to be mostly completed this week. Cotton growers were beginning to defoliate, and harvesting was expected to begin within the next two weeks. Rice was being harvested. Sorghum yields varied, a result of the spread-out planting.However, some very good yields were recorded. Some producers were shredding weeds on rangeland and pastures due to the wet spring and their inability to spray earlier. Rangeland and pasture conditions continued to worsen.

East: The region remained hot and dry. All counties needed rain. Only a few counties reported topsoil and subsoil moisture as adequate. All others reported short to very short moisture. Pasture grasses were going dormant, and hay production slowed due to lack of growth. Many producers only got one cutting of hay this year. Producers in some areas may be short of winter hay if they don’t get one or two more cuttings by this fall. Producers in Trinity County were already buying hay. Creek and pond levels were dropping. The vegetable, blackberry and blueberry harvests were completed. Some farmers were preparing for fall planting. Livestock were in fair to good condition with some supplemental feeding being done. Sale barns reported good numbers and solid prices. The market was stronger on heavier steers and heifers. Cow-calf pairs ranged from $2,450 to $2,900. Beef producers were weaning and culling cows. Horn flies continued to be a problem. Grasshopper populations were rising. Feral hog movement increased.

Far West: Throughout the region, pastures and rangeland were in poor to good condition. For the most part, the region remained extremely hot and very dry, though a few areas did receive scattered showers. Subsoil and topsoil moisture ranged from adequate to short. Cotton was generally in fair condition and setting bolls. Corn and grain sorghum were also mostly in fair condition. Glasscock County cotton was beginning to suffer from the extremely high temperatures and lack of moisture. Dryland fields were reaching cutout, but shedding bolls and leaves due to the heat. Pastures were browning. Pastures and rangeland in Brewster and Jeff Davis counties were beginning to dry out. Cattle were in good condition, with stockers and calves still gaining well. El Paso County cotton was at full bloom and setting bolls. Pecan nuts were growing. Alfalfa growers completed their fourth cutting. Hudspeth County had scattered showers that surprised some farmers who had hay on the ground. Pecos County had recovered nicely from earlier hailstorm damage, and no yield reductions were expected. In Presidio County, some areas showed pockets of green, but overall pastures and rangeland were starting to turn brown. Upton County had a few spotty showers. Ranchers continued to provide supplemental feed to livestock and wildlife.

North: Topsoil moisture was short to very short. Temperatures were slightly cooler, with highs in the mid- to upper-90s. Parts of the region have gone 40 days straight without rain, but rain was forecast for the middle of this week. Soybeans were struggling from the hot, dry weather. Corn was mature and was beginning to be harvested in some areas. Grain sorghum was in fair condition, and sunflowers looked good too. Bermuda grass desperately needed rain and was going dormant in some areas. Hay production dropped. Livestock remained in good condition for this time of year. Pond levels were dropping. Most grain and forage sorghum had to be sprayed to control sugarcane aphids. Horn fly problems increased, and grasshopper populations were on the rise. Wild hogs continued to be a problem.

Panhandle: Much of the region received good soaking rains. Some southern parts of the region needed more moisture. Deaf Smith County producers were dealing with spider mites and Southwestern corn borer, as well as sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum. Where rain wasn’t received, irrigation pumps had to be restarted. Many crops were starting to mature, and silage was nearly ready for harvest. Producers were waiting to plant winter wheat because grasshopper numbers were still increasing. Producers who applied insecticides in hope of controlling the grasshoppers in corn and grain sorghum fields were seeing only limited success. Hay harvesting continued. Cotton was setting bolls at a good rate in the more southern counties of the region. Some dryland grain sorghum and cotton had spotty stands, but most fields were in good shape. Weeds were a problem in many areas. Pastures were in excellent condition, and cattle healthy. Wildlife were rebounding from the drought in the eastern part of the district.

Rolling Plains: Hot, dry weather continued, which accumulated heat units for cotton. Cotton plants were loaded with bolls, but rain was needed soon or the plants could start shedding fruit. Earlier rains had given rangeland and pasture grasses the moisture they needed to produce, but with dry weather, growth slowed down. If it remains dry for the next few weeks, there could be an outbreak of wildfires, especially in areas that have not been grazed off and have an abundance of dry fuel. Livestock were still in good condition, and ranchers needed only to provide small amounts of supplemental feed. Many producers began restocking herds by buying cattle or keeping heifers. Most producers had plenty of surface water. The pecan crop still looked good, but non-irrigated orchards needed moisture.

South: The region remained mostly hot and dry, with a few isolated showers. In the northern part of the region, soil moisture was short to very short. The corn and grain sorghum harvests were completed. Cotton was opening bolls. Peanuts were in good condition and setting pods under continued irrigation. In some areas, rangeland and pastures continued to decline due to the lack of rain. In McMullen County, rangeland and pastures were in fair shape. Ranchers were providing supplemental feed, with some ranchers weaning calves early. In the eastern part of the region, soil moisture was short in Duval and Jim Hogg counties. In Jim Wells, Kleberg and Kenedy counties, subsoil moisture was generally adequate, while topsoil moisture was 50 percent short. Harvesting of corn and sorghum crops planted by April 15 was complete in Jim Wells County, while later-planted grain and sorghum crops were just turning color. Cotton looked good throughout the eastern counties. In the western part of the region, non-grazed pastures remained in fair condition, but those that had been grazed were exhausted. Pecans looked good with no major insect pressure. Coastal Bermuda grass harvesting was good, with hay sales moving slowly. Cotton continued to progress well with the help of additional irrigation. Soil moisture was short to very short throughout the western counties. In the southern part of the region, extremely hot temperatures continued. About a third of Cameron County cotton was harvested. In Hidalgo County, cotton defoliation picked up momentum, as well as harvesting. In Starr County, hay baling continued, and fall vegetable planting preparations began. Cameron County had short soil moisture, while Hidalgo County subsoil and topsoil moisture was 100 percent adequate. Starr County soil moisture was mostly adequate. Cattle body condition scores were fair with no supplemental feeding.

South Plains: High daytime temperatures benefited cotton but stressed other crops. In Floyd County, cotton was finally blooming and setting bolls. Some began drying down and should be ready to cut in a week or so. Hale County received scattered showers, which benefited crops, but heat stress continued to take its toll on livestock. Bailey County also received scattered showers at the first of the week, but needed more as soil moisture was becoming depleted. Cochran County producers were irrigating. Cotton, peas, corn, peanuts, sunflowers and grain sorghum continued to mature. Hockley County received some moisture over the weekend, which gave dryland cotton a boost. Corn there was in good shape, and pastures benefitted from sporadic showers. Lubbock County had another week of hot weather, with highs of 100 degrees on Aug. 13 and Aug. 14. Only isolated areas of the county received showers, and rainfall thus far for August was 0.01 inch. Non-irrigated cotton and fields with limited irrigation reached cut-out. Non-irrigated sorghum planted late was under severe stress. Several grain sorghum fields exceeded the economic threshold for treating sugarcane aphids. In Garza County, irrigated cotton continued to progress well and more cotton began to bloom. Dryland cotton needed rain. Mitchell County cotton put on more bolls. The rangeland was declining. With high heat and low humidity, fire danger increased. Some Scurry County cotton needed rain 10 days ago and was struggling then.

Southeast: Soil moisture throughout the region was mostly adequate to short, with short being the most common. Rangeland and pasture were mostly rated fair to poor, with poor ratings being the most common. Walker County received scattered showers, but subsoil moisture was still a concern. Forage growth, production and harvest were greatly reduced. In Brazos County, the hot and dry conditions continued, but scattered thunderstorms were popping up in the evenings. Montgomery County had a few isolated showers in midweek. In Waller County, temperatures were in the triple-digits. Corn harvesting began. In Chambers County, the maturity of rice planting had been so spread out it was hard to get a good estimate of the crop’s current progress. There was a lot more organic rice planted this year, with most of it planted late. Fort Bend County got 1 inch to 2 inches of rain. The grain sorghum and corn harvests were nearly completed, and some producers expected to soon begin defoliating cotton. Livestock were in good condition. Galveston County continued to suffer drought conditions and record high heat.

Southwest: The region was hot and dry and in need of rain. The biggest concern was the high possibility of wildfire because of the dry conditions. Fire already had broken out in some areas and some burn bans remained in place. Some farmers were preparing to plant small grain in dry conditions, what’s known as “dusting in.” Cotton was starting to show significant signs of root rot in some areas. The grain sorghum and corn harvests were mostly finished, with mostly good yields. Problems with stomach worms in sheep and goats were ongoing. There was plenty of dry grass for livestock grazing.

West Central: Triple-digit temperatures continued throughout the region. The heat, along with high winds, was rapidly depleting soil moisture. A few areas received scattered showers near the end of the week. Crops were beginning to show signs of heat and moisture stress, but most fields remained in fair condition. Drought was taking a toll on cotton. Grain sorghum fields were being cut. Producers were able to get a second cutting of hay due to earlier summer rains and hoped to get a third. Grasshoppers continued to be an issue. Rangeland and pastures were also showing heat and moisture stress. The danger of wildfire continued to increase, and burn bans were reinstated. Pond and livestock tank levels were dropping. Livestock remained in fair to good condition.

TSCRA Crime Watch: 19 steers missing in SW OK, Saddle and tack stolen in NE OK

TSCRA Special Ranger Brett Wellden reports thefts in northeast and southwest Oklahoma involving a total of 19 head of steers, 3 saddles, other tack and ranch equipment.

The saddles, tack and equipment were taken sometime between July 31 and Aug. 1 from a property near Cushing in Payne County, Okla. Missing are a high back Billy Cook saddle with bull hide cover around the seat, water pouch on the left rear billet and a heavy breast collar stamped S/S Ranch; a Billy cook trophy saddle with “Buzzard Arena” stamp, a padded seat and inside out fenders; a high back saddle with round skirting, and heavy breast collar stamped S/S Ranch; four bridles with reins and bits; two ring snaffle bits and one short shank snaffle; and a black 250 gallon water tank.

Wellden also reports the June or July theft of 9 head of mixed color yearling steers weighing approximately 750 pounds, each, from a property near Roosevelt in Kiowa County. The steers all had an MC brand on the right hip and multi-colored custom ear tags. Also stolen some time in June or July were 10 head of mainly black steers weighing approximately 350 to 450 pounds, each, from  another property near Roosevelt in Kiowa County. These steers had a KM brand on the right hip and green ear tags.

If you have any information regarding these cases, please call Special Ranger Wellden at 405-586-9145. Anonymous tipsters may also call the Operation Cow Thief hotline at 888-830-2333. A cash reward is offered for information leading to an arrest and/or grand jury indictment. Anonymity is guaranteed.

USMEF report: China’s currency devaluation a concern for US meat exporters

Last week’s sudden devaluation of China’s currency raised significant concerns for the U.S. meat industry. The U.S. dollar was already at multi-year highs against the currencies of many major trading partners and competitors, and that disadvantage worsened when many of these currencies reacted to China’s move.  Read more at Drovers CattleNetwork

Study examines decline of Texas livestock auction markets

Source: AgriLife Today

Declining cow numbers have led to consolidation in Texas livestock auction markets following devastating droughts the past decade, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service study.

Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension Service livestock marketing economist, provided an overview recently at the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course in College Station.

“Things change over time, but we were interested in the changes in the beef industry’s infrastructure, particularly livestock auction markets,” Anderson said. “Obviously we’ve experienced changes in cattle cycles, inventory numbers and how we trade. We have the Internet, video auctions and direct sales. All of that has played a part in how we trade and market cattle.”

Other authors on the study were Dr. Andy Herring, associate professor in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, and graduate student Trent Hester and assistant professor Ariun Ishdorj – all based in College Station.

Texas had 167 auction markets in 1969 and only 92 auction markets were left in the state by 2013. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin
Texas had 167 auction markets in 1969 and only 92 auction markets were left in the state by 2013. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin

Data was collected using sources such as the Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas Agricultural Statistics Service and other U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Anderson noted during the mid-1970s Texas beef cow numbers peaked at about 7 million head. Currently, Texas has approximately 4.2 million cows. Anderson said before starting the study, there was an expectation that there were fewer auction markets than when data first began being compiled in 1969.

The study proved their hypothesis correct, he said. Texas had 167 auction markets in 1969 and only 92 auction markets were left in the state by 2013. The study indicated that the decline could be attributed to a number of factors, such as producers using other means to market their cattle, “or overall, there being fewer cattle to market in the state, requiring fewer markets to sell fewer cattle.”

“That’s exactly what we saw,” Anderson said. “Then we wanted to know if these fewer auction markets are handling more volume. Overall, the markets haven’t declined as fast as the number of animals. Drought will do that as producers sell cattle at an incredibly fast rate. Over time, the auction markets adjust to that at a much slower pace.”

“The implied animal revenue keeps going up as drought occurs,” Anderson said. “The more animals are sold, the higher that revenue is. But that doesn’t account for inflation. Overall, we found there are fewer markets and declining real implied value when you factor inflation into the equation.”

Anderson noted the study did not account for video or Internet auctions or other marketing services. Also, sheep, goats and hogs were not part of the study.

TDA Market Weekly Recap, Aug. 18, 2015

For the week ending Aug. 15, 2015, Texas auctions quoted feeder cattle prices mostly steady, with instances of sales ranging from $5 lower to $7 higher per hundredweight (cwt). Texas weekly direct feeder cattle sales were fully steady. Wholesale beef values were higher, with Choice Grade gaining $8.38 to close at $244.72 per cwt and Select Grade gaining $5.30 to close at $235.44 per cwt. Net export sales totaling 12,300 metric tons (MT) for July 31 – Aug. 6 were up noticeably from the previous week. Export shipments of 10,400 MT were down one percent from the previous week. Shipments primarily went to Japan, South Korea and Mexico.

Cotton cash prices were 3.50 cents higher than the previous week and closed at 61.38 cents per pound. October futures prices settled at 67.16 cents per pound, 4.39 cents higher than last week. For the reporting period of Aug. 3 – Aug. 9, the USDA NASS Texas field office indicated that 94 percent of cotton acreage is in the squaring stage, up five percentage points from the previous week but down three percentage points from last year. Net export cotton sales totaled 96,900 bales. The primary destinations were Vietnam, Mexico and Turkey.

Wheat cash prices lost $0.05 and futures prices lost $0.03 to settle at $4.32 per bushel and $4.90 per bushel, respectively. The USDA NASS Texas field office reported that 100 percent of the Texas wheat crop has been harvested, with 47 percent of wheat acreage in good to excellent condition. Net export sales for wheat were 421,600 MT, with increased purchases reported for the Philippines, Mexico and China.

Texas corn prices were lower, with cash prices down to $3.90 per bushel and futures prices down to $3.64 per bushel. The USDA NASS Texas field office reported 97 percent of the Texas corn crop is in the silking stage, with 57 percent of corn acreage in good to excellent condition. Corn export sales were down noticeably from the previous week and the prior four-week average. Export shipments were 16 percent lower than the previous week and 23 percent lower from the previous four-week average.

This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor for Texas showed a worsening of drought conditions for the state, with 39 percent of Texas still in some stage of drought intensity. Additionally, none of the state remains in extreme or exceptional drought. On the national level, drought conditions also worsened, with more than 43 percent of the U.S. experiencing abnormal dryness or some degree of drought.

Additional information on agricultural weather, crop progress and agricultural markets can be found on the TDA Market News page.

TSCRA Crime Watch: Cow shot in NE OK, cattle stolen in Far South Texas

TSCRA Special Ranger John Cummings, Dist. 5 in northeast Oklahoma, reports the shooting of a   cow near Chelsea in Rogers County. The mature black cow  weighed approximately 1100 pounds and was shot from a neighboring roadway some time between Aug. 8 and 9. If you have any information regarding this case, please call Special Ranger Cummings at 918-342-0888.

TSCRA Special Ranger Steve Martin, Dist. 30 in Far South Texas, reports 3 cases of stolen cattle totaling 25 head. On July 18 a thief or thieves cut the chain on a gate to steal 6 heifers from a property in Jim Wells County near the Ben Bolt area. The heifers are 3/4 Angus and 1/4 Brahman cross, 4 to 5 months bred and all are black, some with white spots. All the cattle are muley, or hornless, and weigh approximately 1000 pounds, each, and have red numbered ear tags in the left ear.

Some time on July 9 and thief or thieves made off with 17 head of cattle from a property near the Brooks-Duval County line. Missing are 6-year-old muley crossbred cows of various colors weighing 1000 pounds, each. An unknown number of calves may also be missing.

Two head of reddish brown Brangus cross calves are also missing from a property in Karnes County near the Dewitt County line. The calves weighed approximately 400 to 500 pounds, each.

If you have any information regarding these cases, please call Special Ranger Martin at 361-358-8851.

Texas Policy Conference: Inside Texas politics with Evan Smith

Evan Smith, editor-in-chief and CEO, The Texas Tribune, will kick off the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Policy Conference with an in-depth look at key policy issues.

Decisions made by state policymakers and regulatory agencies affect ranchers and landowners daily on issues such as water and property rights, transportation, wildlife, and agency funding. Smith will provide a unique insider’s perspective on the workings at the state Capitol, as well as how lawmakers are tackling key policy areas.

Click here to register and for more info.

In addition to recapping the 2015 Texas Legislative Session, Smith will look ahead to the 2016 elections and developments that may affect ranchers. With a non-partisan perspective and significant experience in public policy reporting, Smith will engage and inform attendees in his humorous, witty style.

Smith will speak at the opening session at 3:00 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Admission to this session is included with all meeting registration packages.

About The Texas Tribune:
Founded in 2009, The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, non-partisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Since its launch in 2009, The Texas Tribune has won international acclaim and numerous honors, including eight national Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Previously, Smith spent nearly 18 years at Texas Monthly, including eight years as editor and a year as president and editor-in-chief.

Don Jobes Jr., long time Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo assistant GM, passes away

Don T. Jobes, Jr., 86, passed away on Aug, 15 in Houston. Jobes served as livestock superintendent and assistant general manager for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 31 years. Visitation will be Tuesday, Aug 18, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Allison Funeral Home in Liberty. Funeral services will be on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 10:00 a.m. at First United Methodist Church in Liberty, with burial at Cook Cemetery. Read more…


JBS doesn’t see Brazil beef exports to US before 2016

Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA expects fresh beef exports to the United States to begin no earlier than 2016, later than the Brazilian government predicted, Chief Executive Officer Wesley Batista said on Friday. An agreement between the two countries was signed in June, when Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visited Washington, but Batista said it would take time to work through bureaucratic approvals and overcome resistance from U.S. cattle producers. Read more at Reuters

Cow-Calf Corner: Fall 2015 cow-calf marketing considerations; Fall-calving season begins ahead of schedule

Aug. 17, 2015

Fall 2015 cow-calf marketing considerations
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
Feeder cattle prices have bounced off the recent summer lows. For the week ending Aug. 14, 2015, the Oklahoma seven-market average price of 450-500 pound medium/large, no. 1 steers was $283.81/cwt., up from recent summer lows and $7-$8/cwt higher than this time last year. The price of 500-550 pound steers is currently $259.26/cwt., also up the past two weeks but roughly $4/cwt lower than one year ago. For 550-600 pound steers, the current price is $244.08/cwt., about $7/cwt. lower than last year. We are at the point where prices this year, which have been above year ago levels so far, will cross and likely be below year ago levels for the remainder of the year.

Last year, 400-500 pound steer prices increased 12 percent from August to November and, in fact, these calf prices have averaged a 9 percent price increase from August to November for the last five years. The 10-15 year average is an increase of 3 percent from August to November. However, the larger 2014 calf crop, indicated by the 1.8 percent increase in July estimated feeder supplies, means that more price pressure will build over the next two to four years.

Given continued strong heifer retention, it’s not clear how much of that pressure hits this fall. During herd expansion it is typical to see Oklahoma 400-500 pound steer prices drop by roughly 3 percent from August to November. I expect the most likely price range for 400-500 pound steers in November is 97 to 103 percent of current prices. There is probably a better chance of being in the lower part of that range.

The pattern for 500-600 pound steers is generally similar. In 2014, the price of 500-600 pound steers increased 13 percent from August to November and has averaged an 8 percent increase the last five years. The 10-15 year average is a one percent increase in price but during herd expansion a four to five percent decrease is more likely from August to November.

November prices for five-weight calves in Oklahoma are likely to range from 95 to 101 percent of current price. Strong wheat pasture demand for stockers could moderate modestly higher feeder supply pressure this fall and limit calf price decreases. Corn prices matter as well and current corn production estimates suggest that corn prices will continue near current levels in the coming crop year. The absence of feed price pressure will also moderate calf price declines this fall.

Now is a good time to evaluate whether preconditioning calves makes sense for cow-calf producers. The decision depends on a number of factors that vary across producers. These factors include feed availability, labor and management constraints and adequate facilities. While preconditioning takes work, there is no doubt it has value. With calf prices still near record levels, preconditioning is even more valuable for buyers. Preconditioning significantly reduces the risk and high cost of death loss, sickness and poor performance on purchased calves whether those calves are going to stocker production or directly into the feedlot.

The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) is available to provide Oklahoma producers a certified preconditioning program and enhance feeder cattle values. In 2014, the weighted average premium of all OQBN feeder cattle over non-preconditioned cattle was $19.20/cwt. For 400-500 pound calves, the premium was $25/cwt. for steers and $20/cwt. for heifers. For 500-600 pound calves, the premium was $34/cwt. for steers and $18/cwt. for heifers. OQBN premiums have averaged between 8 and 13 percent above the price of non-preconditioned calves in recent years. OQBN sellers are receiving a premium for calves and are selling bigger calves as a result of weight gain during pre-conditioning. Eight certified OQBN sales are scheduled this fall. Visit the OQBN website at http://www.oqbn.okstate.edu/ for more information about OQBN protocols and upcoming sales.

Cow-calf producers will enjoy the second highest ever returns in 2015 despite slightly lower calf prices compared to 2014. It is important, however ,for cow-calf producer to anticipate lower prices over time and to carefully consider market conditions; production plans and costs; and value-added opportunities in the future.


Fall-calving season begins ahead of schedule!
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist

Each year in August, it is time for an important reminder: Fall-calving season is here. In fact, the start of the fall calving season often begins before some producers expect it. The target date for the beginning of fall calving very often is Sept. 1. Most printed gestation tables predict that calving will take place 283 days (some 285 days) after artificial insemination or natural breeding. Cows and heifers that gestate in hot weather will often calve a few days earlier than expected.

Oklahoma State University physiologists studied early fall (August) and late fall (October) calving cows. Data from two successive years were combined for 60 Angus X Hereford crossbred cows. The early and late fall calving cows had been artificially inseminated in early November or early January, respectively. Semen from the same sire was used for all cows. All cows were exposed to a single cleanup bull for 35 days at 4 days after the AI season.

The weather prior to calving was significantly different for late pregnancy in the two groups. The average maximum temperature the week before calving was 93 degrees F. for the early fall group. The average maximum temperature the week before parturition in the late calving group was 66 degrees F. There was a 100 percent survival rate for calves in both groups and both groups of cows had very high re-breeding rates at 90 percent and 92 percent, respectively.

The average gestation length for the early cows was 6 days shorter (279 days) as compared to the late cows (285 days) in year 1. The average gestation length for the early cows was 4 days shorter (278 days) as compared to the late cows (282 days) in year 2.

Keep in mind that the gestation lengths listed are AVERAGE. This means that about half of the cows calved earlier than that. Producers with early fall-calving cows should expect calves to start coming several days ahead of the textbook gestation table dates. They should begin their routine heifer and cow checks at least a week to 10 days ahead of the expected first calving date. Source: Kastner, Wettemann, and co-workers. 2004 OSU Animal Science Research Report

“Cow/calf Corner” is a weekly newsletter edited by Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension cattle specialist emeritus at Oklahoma State University with contributions from additional OSU Extension specialists.

Last chance! Submit your convention proposals today!

Want to make the 2016 Cattle Raisers Convention and Expo the best event of the year? There are two ways you can make this happen.

First, tell us what educational programs, topics, or speakers you would like to see on the agenda. Is there a challenge on your ranch that you need help with? Is there something you are interested in? If so, please tell us what this is so we can include it on our agenda.

Second, TSCRA is requesting proposals from prospective speakers. If you have a great program to present during the 2016 Cattle Raisers Convention, we want to hear from you. Convention audiences want sessions that offer useful, practical information for cattle raisers and landowners.

Click here for more information and to submit ideas or proposals!

Developing El Niño could be strongest on record

The El Niño weather pattern developing in the Pacific Ocean could eventually rank among the strongest on record, forecasters with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Aug. 13. A strong El Niño — signalled by the periodic warming of ocean-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific — can lead to heavy rain in parts of North America and drier-than-normal conditions in Australia, Indonesia and parts of India. NOAA says that there is an 85 percent chance that the current El Niño will last through the first few months of next year, with its strength peaking in November or December. Read more at Nature.

Bountiful rains bring abundant weeds; wildfires sure to follow

Source: AgriLife Today

Record rainfall will almost certainly lead to a dangerous wildfire year if proper management actions are not taken before everything dries down, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

“We’ve had a phenomenal year for rainfall, and we’re really grateful for it to help our rangeland recover from the drought and give cattle plenty to eat,” said Tim Steffens, AgriLife Extension range specialist in Canyon.

“But the downside is we’ve built up fuel loads where wildfire can travel fast across the countryside and across roadways once the kochia weeds and Russian thistle dry down and begin tumbling across the country,” Steffens said. “Those can scatter fire all over in high winds. So we have to be careful about how we manage before, during and after drought.”

The question, he said, is “what needs to be done about fuel loads and how do we manage wildfire damage?”

On his list are: mowing or grazing large weeds at the right time and creating firebreaks around pastures so that if a wildfire breaks out, it will be on a smaller scale and can burn to those breaks and die out.

“So things like a light disking around fence lines or burning out or mowing that center part of the feeding road to create a wider non-vegetative strip will help. Another thing we can do through grazing management is decrease the overall fuel, making it patchier across the pasture so a fire will not be able to build up the intensity and momentum as it goes across the landscape.”

In some cases, Steffens said, the firebreaks might be isolated for grazing, but that is limited to ranchers who have intensive grazing management systems in place.

The other option is to use prescribed fire to change the overall fuel load, change the structure and change the continuity of fuels across the landscape, he said.

“A lot of people are really scared of prescribed fire. But the thing you need to keep in mind, as we know from several years ago when we had the huge wildfires in this part of the country, is this country will burn. We have plenty of people smoking cigarettes and automobiles backfiring or have bearings go out and dry lightning strikes. The country will burn.

“What we need to concentrate on is do we want to have any say in when, where, how hot, how fast, how big that fire is going to be? The only way we can do that is to create a fire under prescribed conditions that will accomplish goals that we want.”

Steffens said producers need to look at using fire to manage the vegetation by limiting brush and weeds and freshening up decadent forage.

“I use the term prescribed, because we don’t have controlled burns like people talk about,” he said. “The minute you strike that match, your control is over. But you can do it under prescribed conditions and achieve the results you want.

“I hope people will start to consider prescribed fire a little more as a management option. We can do a lot of things with fire,” Steffens said. “It’s a tool in the tool box. We just need to know how to use it safely. By employing both fire and grazing management that provides adequate recovery between defoliations,” he said, “We can go a long way toward getting the type of vegetation we want without a lot of expense.”

USDA predicts falling cattle prices for 2015-2016

While the major focus of the monthly WASDE report is usually on the grain and oilseed numbers- the livestock portion of the August 2015 report showed falling livestock prices for cattle. Beef  production is expected to be smaller- even in the face of falling prices. Beef production for 2015 and 2016 is lowered due to a combination of slower marketings of fed cattle and reduced cow slaughter. Read more at Oklahoma Farm Report

Japan anxious at lull, US ‘giving up,’ in TPP talks

Japan has expressed concern about a loss of momentum in talks on a pan-Pacific trade pact after participants failed to agree to meet again this month to try to clinch a deal that would cover 40 percent of the global economy. Ministers from the 12 nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would stretch from Japan to Chile, fell short of a deal at talks last month on the Hawaiian island of Maui, despite early optimism. Read more at Reuters

2015-16 Texas hunting, fishing licenses go on sale Saturday

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Sportsmen gearing up for the upcoming fall hunting seasons are reminded to renew their licenses for 2015-16, available starting Saturday, August 15. The current year Texas hunting and fishing licenses (except year-to-date fishing licenses) will expire Aug. 31.

Every year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issues about 2.5 million hunting and fishing licenses through the agency’s 28 field offices, more than 50 state parks and at over 1,700 retailers across the state. Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD website at www.tpwd.texas.gov/buy or by phone at 1-800-895-4248. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please note that here is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction but multiple items can be purchased during a single transaction occasion for the $5 fee. The online transaction system is available 24/7. For online and phone orders, a physical license will be mailed within three business days. During that time period, a transaction receipt will be provided via email that will be sufficient proof of hunting license that can be used for dove hunting, though it will not be allowed for the take of fish or wildlife that require a tag.

Hunting and fishing regulations for the new season can be found in the 2015-2016 Outdoor Annual, available in booklet form at license retailers and digitally online at www.outdoorannual.com. Hunters and anglers can also download the free 2015-2016 Outdoor Annual mobile app on their Apple or Android devices.

Mandatory Hunter Education Certification

In addition to a hunting license, anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a hunter education training course or purchase a one-time deferral good for one license year in order to hunt legally in Texas. The certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states and provinces. Last year, TPWD certified a record 72,000 hunter education students, yet Texas game wardens still issued more than 3,400 citations and warnings last fall for hunters not meeting hunter education certification requirements.

Getting certified has never been more convenient. Hunters who need hunter education certification have several expanded contemporary options including a streamlined, one-day basic course and an option for anyone 17 years of age or older to take the hunting safety training completely online. A combination online home study and 4 to 5 hour skills field day course is also offered. More information on hunter education certification is available online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/huntered.

Bird Hunting Requirements

A Migratory Game Bird endorsement and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification are also required to hunt dove or teal in September. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year’s migratory bird hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased. Duck hunters also need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp. The cost of the duck stamp was increased this year to $25, plus applicable state and federal fees.

There are other mandatory endorsements to consider at the time of license purchase. An Upland Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required to hunt all non-migratory game birds, including turkey, quail, pheasant and chachalaca.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine’s Hunting Forecast

The Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine’s free digital hunting issue will be available starting Friday, August 15. This special issue includes the 2015-2016 hunting forecast for deer, dove, ducks and more. Wild game recipes and other tips are also included. It can be downloaded as a free app on iPad or iPhone or viewed as a digital version online starting August 15 at www.tpwmagazine.com/hunt/.

Big Time Texas Hunts

Big Time Texas Hunts provide opportunities to win one or more of nine premium guided hunt packages with food and lodging provided, as well as taxidermy in some cases. The crown jewel of the program is the Texas Grand Slam hunt package, which includes four separate hunts for Texas’ most prized big game animals — the desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn. New this year is the Ultimate Mule Deer Hunt, where one winner will be the first to hunt on the recently acquired Yoakum Dunes WMA. There are several quality whitetail hunt packages available, as well as opportunities to pursue alligator, waterfowl, upland game birds, wild hog and exotics. Big Time Texas Hunts entries are available online for just $9 each at www.tpwd.texas.gov/buyentry, or for $10 each at license retailers or by phone. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase and all proceeds benefit conservation, wildlife management and public hunting. Deadline for entry is Oct. 15. The program is made possible with support from Toyota, Texas Trophy Hunters Association and the Texas Bighorn Society. More details on all nine premium hunts can be found online.

Lifetime Licenses

Lifetime Licenses Hunters and anglers can also take care of their licensing requirements for life with the purchase of a $1,800 Lifetime Super Combo, or they can enter for the chance to win a lifetime license through the department’s Lifetime License Drawing. Entries for the drawing cost $5 each and may be purchased at license retailers, by phone or online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/licensedraw. There is no limit on the number of entries that may be purchased. Winners will be drawn on Dec. 30, 2015 and June 30, 2016. If you enter by Dec. 27, 2015, you will be eligible for both drawings.

Freestone County theft suspect surrenders

Sharon Nehring, also known as Sharon Jacoby, 57, of Freestone County, surrendered to authorities Tuesday and was charged with felony theft of livestock. TSCRA Special Ranger Jimmy Dickson and other law enforcement authorities searched for Nehring for several months after an investigation alleged Nehring had purchased thousands of dollars worth of lambs and goats with a worthless check from the Freestone County Fair in June 2014.

Nehring surrendered and was arrested on a $5,000 bond. TSCRA received many calls from concerned citizens and to Operation Cow Thief, an anonymous tipline that offers a cash reward for information leading to the arrest and/or grand jury indictment of thieves.

“The response from concerned citizens was tremendous and eventually led to the suspect surrendering and posting bond,” said Dickson. “I’m pleased TSCRA Operation Cattle Thief was able to help in this investigation and I greatly appreciate Freestone County Detective Clayton Aldrich and Freestone County District Attorney Chris Martin for their assistance in the arrest of the suspect. This case will now move forward to the criminal justice system.”

Summer Sale on Hook & Tackle Sage Fishing Shirts

Cattle Raisers Trading Co. is offering 10 percent off our Hook & Tackle sage fishing shirts! Summer is ending but that doesn’t mean your fishing trips have to. These 100 percent cotton poplin shirts sport a vented back, CoolMax mesh lining, utility loops, cargo pockets and the TSCRA seal embroidered on the front right chest. Use promo code FISH at checkout to take advantage of this special sale price. Click here to go to the Cattle Raisers Trading Co. online store.

FDA finds some improvement in antibiotic resistance trends

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released its latest National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) Integrated Report. This report highlights antimicrobial resistance patterns in bacteria isolated from humans, retail meats, and animals at slaughter. Specifically, the report focuses on major foodborne pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics that are considered important to human medicine, and on multidrug resistant pathogens described as resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics. Read more at the Food and Drug Administration website…

Deer breeder movement standards plan finalized

Source: Texas Animal Health Commission

Texas deer breeders will be able to resume animal movements under a plan finalized Aug. 12 by Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The Breeder Deer Movement Qualification Standards Plan will take effect upon the filing of Emergency Rules by TPWD and will be in place through the 2015-16 Texas hunting season. Details of the plan are available at www.tpwd.texas.gov/cwd.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • A framework giving breeders who met previous movement qualified standards an option to move and liberate deer. Movement qualification is also dependent on administrative compliance with deer breeder permit regulations and statutes.
  • Enhanced options for closely monitored herds with a status of “fifth year” or “certified” in the TAHC Monitored Herd Program. There are no additional release site requirements for ranches that receive deer only from these herds.
  • Additional Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing in deer breeding facilities. Under the plan, the vast majority of the 1,300 permitted deer breeders in Texas can gain movement qualified status by testing two or fewer animals.
  • There will be CWD testing requirements for a proportion of deer that are harvested on some release sites.

The goal of the Movement Qualification Plan is to provide deer breeders with options prior to the Sept. 22 deadline for movement and liberation of bucks and before the 2015-16 hunting season. This is just one of many steps Texas is taking to mitigate the spread of CWD after it was detected in deer from a Medina County deer breeding facility earlier this summer.

“We have received and tried to be responsive to the extensive feedback from the state’s many and varied deer management interests in developing this revised plan,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. “In the development of this framework, both agencies are balancing the need to minimize the risk of unwittingly allowing the movement or liberation of Chronic Wasting Disease-positive deer on the Texas landscape while adopting reasonable movement qualification standards that allow qualified deer breeders to begin moving and liberating captive deer. The complexity associated with the development of this framework is immense.”

A joint agency CWD Working Group will now focus efforts on developing individual herd plans for affected deer breeders and develop a plan for strategic sampling of hunter harvested deer from free-ranging populations this fall.

“Our goal was to protect the health of free-ranging deer and captive breeder deer, while maintaining business continuity for the breeder industry,” said Dr. Dee Ellis, TAHC executive eirector. “We believe this plan accomplishes those goals.”

Factors such as level of connectedness to the index facility, level of testing in the TAHC’s Monitored Herd Program, relative percentage of the overall herd that has been tested, and variable liberation criteria are all being considered in development of the herd plans.

The TAHC and TPWD are continuing the investigation of the index facility in Medina County, where 42 deer have been euthanized and tested for CWD.

“The results from the partial testing of the animals in the Index Facility, as well as samples from the CWD-exposed herds, are important to making reasonable, prudent, and responsible decisions for the remaining captive herds, neighboring landowners, and wild deer,” said Clayton Wolf, TPWD wildlife division director.

Texas crop, weather, for Aug. 11, 2015

Source: AgriLife Today

As temperatures reached 100 degrees and above, the stress on beef cattle increased, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts. Though there are no reports of large death losses yet, the stress does affect beef cattle health and certainly reduces their feed efficiency and daily gains, both on pastures and in the feedlots.

“The really high temperatures we’ve had the last several weeks have caused cattle to undergo a lot of heat stress,” said Dr. Joe Paschal, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, Corpus Christi. “Typically, cattle are going to shade up a lot more, particularly if they are black-hided rather than if they are of Bos indicus or Brahman influence.”

Paschal said in addition to staying in the shade much of the day rather than grazing, cattle are going to look for ways to cool off, such as standing in ponds or stock-water tanks.

Extremely hot weather across Texas kept beef cattle and calves in shade or near water. Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Steve Byrns
Extremely hot weather across Texas kept beef cattle and calves in shade or near water. Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Steve Byrns

If these measures aren’t enough, then they will start showing physiological signs of heat stress, he said. Cattle mainly cool themselves by panting. Bringing in cool, moist air will allow them to lower their core temperature, and by turn, their outer body by increasing the amount of blood to their hides.

“If they can bring cool air into their lungs, that’s fine, but they can’t now,” Paschal said. “They are bringing in air that’s at 100 degrees and at very low humidity, and it’s making them even hotter. This affects their entire metabolic process. It’s even harder on feedlot cattle as they’re fatter.”

Dr. Ted McCollum, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, Amarillo, said it is true that feedlot cattle are more susceptible to heat stress. This is because they are generally fatter, or “fleshier,” and the fat acts as an insulator, making it harder for them to dispel heat by convection.

However, he hasn’t heard that many reports on death loss this summer, he said.

Of the 120 or so feedlots that finish cattle in Texas, Oklahoma and eastern New Mexico, most are in the Texas Panhandle. And one of the several reasons that most confined cattle feeding units are there is because of the climate.

“The one thing about this part of Texas as compared to South Texas, or farther north in Nebraska where you hear about death losses from heat stress in feed yard cattle, is that we do cool down at night,” McCollum said.

The cooler nighttime air means cattle in Panhandle feed yards have the chance to “unload” that heat at night.

This isn’t to say that some cattle in Panhandle feed yards haven’t suffered health problems during the past several weeks, but to his knowledge there haven’t been any large-scale problems, he said.

Some performance losses have occurred because of reduced feed consumption during the hot weather. Digestive processes generate body heat. So in response to hot ambient temperatures, cattle will often reduce feed intake in an effort to reduce their heat load, he said.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

The 12 Texas AgriLife Extension Service regional districts.
The 12 Texas AgriLife Extension Service regional districts.

Coastal Bend: Some parts of the region had not received rain for nearly four weeks. Others got a few scattered showers, but nothing significant. The dry conditions helped farmers get some crops harvested, but some had to irrigate soybeans and cotton. The dry weather was expected to reduce the yield potentials of soybeans and hay fields. Many producers were taking a second cutting of hay, but grass regrowth was slow to non-existent due to lack of topsoil moisture. The corn and grain harvests should be completed by the middle of August. Rice was starting to arrive at grain elevators. Livestock owners were checking water sources daily to assure all livestock had adequate water. Cattle were generally in good condition, but more calves were being shipped as forage supplies began to wane.

East: Most counties reported temperatures above 100 degrees, along with dry and windy conditions. All counties needed rain. Pasture and hay fields were showing drought stress. There was a general browning of all grasses, and a great reduction in regrowth. Producers who had overstocked their pastures were beginning to run out of grass. Soil moisture continued to dwindle. Most counties rated topsoil as short, with several rating it as very short. Burn bans were being issued throughout the region. Many Anderson County oak trees were dying. Vegetable harvesting was nearly over. Some truck farmers were preparing for fall planting. Pond and creek levels were dropping. Cattle were in good condition. Weaning and selling of market-ready calves and cull cows continued. Some producers were supplementing livestock with protein. Horn flies continued to be a problem. Feral hogs were on the move, rooting up pastures and lawns.

Far West: The entire region had temperatures well above 100 degrees. A few counties received measurable rainfall. Dryland cotton in Glasscock County was showing signs of heat and moisture stress. Cotton in most other counties was in good condition, at full bloom and setting bolls. Corn was in fair to good condition. Alfalfa growers were taking a fourth cutting. Pecans looked good. Sorghum crops were in fair condition. Pastures and rangeland were beginning to dry out but were in fair to good condition. Subsoil and topsoil moisture ranged from adequate to short. Cattle were generally in good condition. Calves and stocker cattle were gaining weight.

North: Temperatures reached 100 degrees every day. Topsoil moisture was short to very short. The ground was cracking in many places, and pastures were drying out very quickly. Producers continued to harvest Bermuda grass hay and annual forage sorghum. Corn and grain sorghum were maturing very quickly, with harvesting likely to begin in the next week or two. Yields of both crops were expected to be below average as both were planted late due to excessive rain during the spring and early summer. Soybeans were struggling with the heat. Sunflowers looked good in some areas but were stressed in others. Livestock were in good condition for August but were seeking refuge in stock tanks and waterways to stay cool. Flies and mosquitoes were abundant. Wild hogs continued to cause damage.

Panhandle: The region remained hot and humid, with temperatures near normal for early August. Isolated areas received showers, from a trace to 3 inches. Grasshoppers were a problem throughout the region. Spider mites were being monitored in Deaf Smith County corn fields, along with sugarcane aphids in Hansford and Lipscomb counties. In Collingsworth County, the hot weather added much needed heat units for cotton and sped up the maturing of grain sorghum. Irrigators were watering cotton while the crop was setting bolls. Deaf Smith County producers were evaluating damage from the past storms. Several corn, sorghum and wheat fields were totally lost. Otherwise, Deaf Smith County crops were generally in good shape, with much of the corn in the milk to early dough stage. Grain sorghum was coming along well too, with early planted fields setting seed. Cotton was struggling as many fields were behind and needed more heat units. Grasshoppers were particularly bad in Deaf Smith County, with many producers having already sprayed multiple times in an effort to control the invasion. Producers were concerned about planting early wheat until the grasshopper problem was resolved. In Hall County, extremely hot weather stressed crops and livestock. Hansford County received another 1.7 to 2 inches of rain. Weeds were becoming a big problem in some fields. Corn looked great, and some irrigation pumps were turned off to allow cutting of silage. Irrigated and dryland sorghum looked great. Irrigated cotton also looked very good. Dryland cotton stands were spotty in places. Lipscomb County reported sugarcane aphid infestations in grain sorghum. Randall County crops continued to progress after some rain. Wheeler County cotton was still behind normal development.

Rolling Plains: Summer heat hit the region, with high temperatures ranging from 100 to 107 degrees. The heat rapidly dried out topsoils but was good for most cotton, though some fields were showing signs of stress. Summer annual forages were being harvested. There were reports of sugarcane aphids on grain sorghum. Cattle were in good condition, and pastures were holding up, though some grasses were drying out quickly. Grasshoppers were still damaging trees and crops, but populations were declining.

South: Very hot and dry conditions were the rule throughout the district, and soil moisture levels were dropping. In some areas, there had been no rain for as long as six weeks. In the northern part of the district, corn and sorghum harvesting continued. Peanut development ranged from the flowering stage to setting pods. Cotton was opening bolls. Pastures and rangeland were drying out, but they generally were still in fair shape. Some producers were baling hay. Body condition scores of cattle remained good. In the eastern part of the district, most pastures still looked good despite the lack of rain, but producers expected they will have to provide supplemental feed to livestock soon if there is no rain. The grain sorghum harvest was underway with some producers reporting yields of 5,000 pounds to 6,000 pounds per acre. Small fires broke out in rangeland and pastures in Jim Hogg County. Cotton growers did not expect harvesting to begin in earnest until Sept. 1. Soil moisture in the eastern counties ranged from adequate to short. In the western part of the district, the continuing hot, dry weather meant producers still had to irrigate cotton, pecans and some late-planted sorghum fields. The harvesting of corn and sorghum was active. The availability and quality of native rangeland and pastures grasses further declined. Producers who had heavy grazing pressure on native rangeland had to provide light supplemental feeding. Cotton was making good progress. In the south part of the district, soil moisture was short. Producers were defoliating cotton, and the sugarcane harvest was ramping up.

South Plains: Temperatures were in the triple digits, which for some counties was a first for the year. Cotton development ranged from just beginning to bloom, with eight nodes above white flower, to physiological cutout with five or fewer nodes above white flower. The heat was generally good for cotton in helping it somewhat catch up on development. Floyd County cotton started to set bolls, and grain crops continued to look great. Hale County received timely, scattered showers that provided significant moisture in a few areas. Cochran County also received showers that improved subsoil and topsoil moisture. Peanuts there were doing very well. Sugarcane aphids were confirmed in grain sorghum, while cotton was impacted by fleahoppers and lygus bugs during the last few weeks. Lubbock County recorded its first official 100-degree day on Aug. 6. However, temperatures had been consistently near 100 for days, with higher than normal humidity. Spotty rain showers amounted to 0.5 to 1 inch of moisture. Cotton was stressed where no rain was received. Grain sorghum producers were closely monitoring widespread sugarcane aphid infestations. Some fields reached economic threshold levels for treatment. Garza County also received rain, from a trace to as much as 2 inches. Cotton continued to progress but needed rain to maintain development. Mitchell County had several 100-degree days. Rangeland condition declined, and the increased chances of wildfire became a concern.

Southeast: Soil moisture varied widely throughout the region, but was mostly in the adequate to short range, with short being the most common. Rangeland and pastures were mostly rated in fair to poor condition, with fair ratings being the most common. Temperatures were at or above 100 degrees. Soils and lowland areas were drying out. Pasture conditions were beginning to fade. In some areas, there had been no regrowth of grass after the first cutting of hay about three weeks ago. Corn was drying down very quickly. In Chambers County, early rice that did not have to be replanted was being harvested. Dry conditions made draining rice fields a hard decision, but the alternative was to chance plants dying and lodging. In Fort Bend County, the grain sorghum harvest was mostly finished. Yields ranged from 3,500 pounds to as much as 7,500 pounds per acre. The corn harvest began, with yields ranging from less than 100 bushels to as much as 240 bushels per acre. Cotton was progressing quickly, and some producers expected to begin defoliating within a week. Livestock were in fair to good condition.

Southwest: Hot, dry conditions persisted throughout the region with no rain reported. Temperatures have been in the high 90s to over 100 for weeks, which was cooking grasses and forbs. Burn bans were instituted in some counties. The grain sorghum harvest neared completion, and the corn harvest was in full swing. Pasture conditions continue to decline with hot and dry conditions. Hay yields have been very high, but most fields were already going to seed or becoming dormant. Cotton was doing well. Wildlife generally were in good condition. With pastures declining, due to the hot weather, livestock were showing signs of stress.

West Central: The region had triple-digit temperatures with no rain forecast. The continued hot, dry, windy conditions were drying out soils, pastures and stock-water tanks. Row crops were showing signs of heat and moisture stress. Some producers were preparing fields for fall planting, but many were waiting for a rain before beginning. The danger of wildfire was high and increasing every day. Cotton was maturing fast thanks to the hot days and warm nights. The grain sorghum harvest began. Hay harvesting continued, with many producers taking a second cutting. Some expected to get a third cutting. Grasshoppers were becoming an issue in some areas, and producers were applying pesticides. Rangeland and pastures remained in fair to good condition, but were beginning to show signs of stress. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Calf weaning continued.

TSCRA Crime Watch: Cattle missing in SW OK, SE TX

TSCRA Special Ranger Brett Wellden, Dist. 3 in Oklahoma, reports the recent theft of 19 head of cattle from Kiowa County properties in the southwest area of the state. Missing are 10 head of mostly black steers weighing approximately 350 to 400 pounds, each, with a KM brand on the right hip and green ear tags in the right ear. Also missing from a neighboring property are 9 black yearling steers weighing approximately 700 pounds, each, with an MC brand and numbered eartags. If you have any information regarding these cases, please call Special Ranger Wellden at 405-586-9145.

TSCRA Special Ranger Brent Mast, Dist. 22 in southeast Texas, reports 9 head of cattle missing from a property in Madison County. Missing are a red Beefmaster cow with a Circle C freeze brand on the left hip, 8 unbranded whiteface dunn or black cows and 5 or 6 red or dunn unbranded bull calves. If you have any information regarding this case, please call Special Ranger Mast at 936-851-0122

APHIS to lead ‘nationally coordinated program’ to manage feral swine

The USDA is moving ahead with a plan to attack the feral swine problem with a strategy that will vary by state and require help from state and local governments. In a 500-plus page environmental impact statement being published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and eight other government agencies announce a “nationally coordinated program” to control “damage and risks to agriculture, animal health, human health, property, and cultural and natural resources” brought about by a growing herd of feral swine. The plan calls for eliminating the feral swine from some states while managing the populations in others and eliminating them from specific locations. Read more at Agri-Pulse

Anthrax confirmed in Uvalde County

Source: Texas Animal Health Commission
The Texas Animal Health Commission has confirmed the first anthrax case for 2015 in a South Texas equine. The affected premises is approximately 25 miles northwest of Uvalde and has been quarantined. TAHC rules require proper disposal of affected carcasses and vaccination of livestock on the premises prior to release of the quarantine.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including certain parts of Texas. It is not uncommon for anthrax to be diagnosed in the southwestern part of the state, especially in hotter months. A vaccine is available for use in susceptible livestock in high risk areas.

Common signs of anthrax in livestock are an acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings. Carcasses may also appear bloated and decompose quickly. Livestock displaying symptoms consistent with anthrax should be reported to a private veterinary practitioner or a TAHC official. If affected livestock or carcasses must be handled, producers are encouraged to follow basic sanitation precautions, such as wearing protective gloves, long sleeve shirts and washing thoroughly afterward to prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people.

“The TAHC will continue to closely monitor the situation for possible new cases across the state. Producers are encouraged to consult their veterinary practitioner or local TAHC office if they have questions about the disease in livestock and their medical professional if they have concerns about anthrax exposure,” said Dr. T.R. Lansford, TAHC assistant executive director for animal health programs.

For more information regarding anthrax, contact your local TAHC office, call 1-800-550-8242 or visit www.tahc.texas.gov.

To learn more about anthrax, download a TAHC informational brochure at www.tahc.state.tx.us.

TDA Market Recap, Aug. 10, 2015

Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

For the week ending Aug. 8, 2015, Texas auctions quoted feeder cattle prices mostly steady, with instances of sales ranging from $2 lower to $8 higher per hundredweight (cwt). Texas weekly direct feeder cattle sales were $1.00 to $4.00 higher regaining part of what was lost last week. Wholesale beef values were higher, with Choice Grade gaining $3.09 to close at $264.34 per cwt and Select Grade gaining $0.85 to close at $230.14 per cwt. Net export sales totaling 5,900 metric tons (MT) for July 24 – July 30 were down six percent from the previous week. Export shipments of 10,500 MT were down 11 percent from the previous week. Shipments primarily went to Japan, South Korea, and Mexico.

Cotton cash prices were 1.50 cents lower than the previous week and closed at 57.88 cents per pound. October futures prices settled at 62.77 cents per pound, 1.24 cents lower than last week. For the reporting period of July 27 – Aug. 2, the USDA NASS Texas field office indicated that 89 percent of cotton acreage is in the squaring stage, up 10 percentage points from the previous week, but down three percentage points from last year. Net export cotton sales were down noticeably from the previous week’s sales. Shipments were up 11 percent from the previous week and eight percent from the average. The primary destinations were Vietnam, Turkey, and South Korea.

Wheat cash prices lost $0.01 and futures prices gained $0.01 to settle at $4.37 per bushel and $4.93 per bushel, respectively. The USDA NASS Texas field office reported that 100 percent of the Texas wheat crop has been harvested, with 47 percent of wheat acreage in Good to Excellent condition. Net export sales for wheat were 838,500 MT, with increased purchases reported for the Dominican Republic, Japan, and the Philippines.

Texas corn prices were higher, with cash prices up to $3.99 per bushel and futures prices up to $3.73 per bushel. The USDA NASS Texas field office reported 91 percent of the Texas corn crop is in the silking stage, with 57 percent of corn acreage in Good to Excellent condition. Corn export sales were down noticeably from the previous week and from the prior four-week average. Export shipments were six percent lower than the previous week and seven percent lower than the average.

This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor for Texas showed a worsening of drought conditions for the state, with 27.67 percent of Texas still in some stage of drought intensity. Additionally, none of the state remains in extreme or exceptional drought, down 5.48 percentage points from three months ago. On the national level, drought conditions also worsened, with 42.29 percent of the U.S. experiencing abnormal dryness or some degree of drought, up 3.40 percentage points from last week.

Additional information on agricultural weather, crop progress and agricultural markets can be found on the TDA Market News page.

Week Ending   Previous   Previous
Texas Cash Markets: Aug. 8, 2015        Week          Year
Feeder Steers $/cwt 211.80 215.25 211.54
Fed Cattle $/cwt n/a 146.00 155.00
Slaughter Lambs $/cwt 184.00 175.00 162.00
Slaughter Goats $/cwt 250.00 250.00 210.00
Cotton ¢/lb. 57.88 59.38 62.00
Grain Sorghum $/cwt 6.81 6.81 6.41
Wheat $/bu. 4.37 4.38 6.07
Corn $/bu. 3.99 3.96 3.94
Onions $/40lb n/a n/a n/a
Watermelon $/lb 0.20 0.22 0.11
Cabbage $/50 lbs. n/a n/a n/a
Futures Markets:
Feeder Cattle $/cwt 214.13 210.73 217.22
Fed Cattle $/cwt 149.58 145.70 150.60
Cotton ¢/lb. 62.77 64.01 63.60
Wheat $/bu. 4.93 4.92 6.20
Corn $/bu. 3.73 3.71 3.66
Lumber $/MBF 259.00 252.10 345.40

MBF = thousand board feet

All cash prices above are market averages for locations covered by the USDA Market News program and do not reflect any particular sale at any specific location. Feeder cattle prices are for Texas direct sales of 650-850 pound medium and large No.1 steers for current delivery. Futures prices are quoted for the nearest month contract on the last trading day of the week. Timber prices are from the Texas A&M Forest Service, bimonthly “Texas Timber Price Trends.”

For additional information, contact TDA at 800-835-5832 or visit www.TexasAgriculture.gov.

The Browning Blog: Good News, Bad News – You Decide

Aug. 10, 2015


by Evelyn Browning-Garriss, climatologist and author of The Browning Newsletter

Unless you love the drama of a hurricane destroying everyone’s property, NOAA just delivered some great news. According to their experts, this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will be below average.

NOAA predicts 2 – 6 fewer tropical storms in the Atlantic this year
NOAA predicts 2 – 6 fewer tropical storms in the Atlantic this year

This was not a difficult call. Typically there are fewer Atlantic hurricanes during an El Niño. The huge heatwave in the Tropical Pacific changes weather all around the world, particularly in the tropics. More precisely, it changes air pressure and air pressure shapes winds. It changes the air pressure so that the high level winds in the East Pacific are weaker and those in the West Atlantic are stronger.

These weak upper level winds in the East Pacific create a quiet environment that allows tropical storms to grow stronger and higher. However, in the Atlantic, the stronger high level winds mow down any tropical disturbance that is trying to increase in size. It usually sheers off the tops of lots of storms, cutting down the number of Atlantic hurricanes.

A typical El Niño changes tropical weather and where tropical storms grow. Source: NOAA
A typical El Niño changes tropical weather and where tropical storms grow. Source: NOAA

Sounds great so far – right? Here’s the catch – it not only reduces Gulf of Mexico hurricanes, it reduces Gulf of Mexico rainfall. Typically an El Niño reduces rainfall in the Central and Western Gulf Coast by 10 to 50 percent during the months of July through September. Ouch! You also usually see drier conditions in the Southeast as well.

So far, this pattern is occurring and the Gulf Coast and Southeast are getting less rainfall. For some Texans who are still recovering from the late springtime floods, this is great. For pasture lands, the weather news is not as jolly.

The El Niño is bringing short-term dry weather to East Texas and the South
The El Niño is bringing short-term dry weather to East Texas and the South

The dry weather has already arrived. For most of Texas, the abundant waters left by the floods have dried up. Fortunately for West Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, the El Niño is also keeping the Southwest Monsoon active and bringing thunderstorms and rain.

Is the dry weather a bad thing? Or are the clear sunny skies just a good excuse to take a short beach vacation on the Gulf? It’s up to you to decide. – EBG

For nearly 40 years, The Browning Newsletter has been simply the best, most accurate source for long-term climate forecasts. Subscribers include a diverse group of people and institutions interested in profiting from opportunities presented by changing climate, and those looking to protect their interests that might be affected by changing climate.

They include farmers and ranchers, commodities brokers, large banks and financial institutions, hedge funds, agricultural supply vendors, and people interested in our global climate.

For more information, including subscription information, click here or visit browningnewsletter.com.

Kerry confident of concluding TPP pact this year

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence on Friday that an ambitious Pacific trade pact could be completed this year and said a recent nuclear deal with Iran proved hurdles in international agreements could be overcome. Kerry said many challenges remained in thrashing out a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), particularly on issues of autos and dairy, but the United States would do everything in its power to make it happen. Read more at Reuters

Cow-Calf Corner: Preg check and cull open replacement heifers; Feeder prices and fall grazing prospects

Aug. 10, 2015

“Preg” check and cull “open” replacement heifers
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist

Many Oklahoma ranchers choose to breed the replacement heifers about a month ahead of the mature cows in the herd. In addition, they like to use a shortened 45 to 60-day breeding season for the replacement heifers. The next logical step is to determine which of these heifers failed to conceive in their first breeding season. This is more important today than ever before.

The bulls were removed from the replacement heifers about 60 days ago, this would be an ideal time to call and make arrangements with your local large animal veterinarian to have those heifers evaluated for pregnancy. After two months of gestation, experienced palpaters should have no difficulty identifying which heifers are pregnant and which heifers are not pregnant (open). Those heifers that are determined to be “open” after this breeding season, should be strong candidates for culling. Culling these heifers immediately after pregnancy checking serves three very economically valuable purposes.

1) Identifying and culling open heifers early will remove sub-fertile females from the herd. Lifetime cow studies from Montana indicated that properly developed heifers that were exposed to fertile bulls, but DID NOT become pregnant were often sub-fertile compared to the heifers that did conceive. In fact, when the heifers that failed to breed in the first breeding season were followed throughout their lifetimes, they averaged a 55 percent yearly calf crop. Despite the fact that reproduction is not a highly heritable trait, it also makes sense to remove this genetic material from the herd so as to not proliferate females that are difficult to get bred.

2) Culling open heifers early will reduce summer forage and winter costs. If the rancher waits until next spring to find out which heifers do not calve, the pasture use and winter feed expense will still be lost and there will be no calf to eventually help pay the bills. This is money that can better be spent in properly feeding cows that are pregnant and will be producing a salable product the following fall.

3) Identifying the open heifers shortly after (60 days) the breeding season is over will allow for marketing the heifers while still young enough to go to a feedlot and be fed for the choice beef market. “B” maturity carcasses (those estimated to be 30 months of age or older) are very unlikely to be graded Choice and cannot be graded Select. As a result, the heifers that are close to two years of age will suffer a price discount. If we wait until next spring to identify which two year-olds did not get bred, then we will be culling a female that will be marketed at a noticeable discount compared to the price/pound that she would have brought this summer as a much younger animal.  In today’s market an 850 pound non-pregnant heifer will bring about $1.90/lb. or $1615 per head. If current prices hold, next spring a two-year old 1000 pound cow may bring $1.15/lb. or $1150 per head. This calculates to a $465 per head loss plus the expense of keeping her through the winter.

Certainly the percentage of open heifers will vary from ranch to ranch. Do not be overly concerned, if after a good heifer development program and adequate breeding season, that you find that 10 percent of the heifers still are not bred.  Resist the temptation to keep these open heifers and “roll them over” to a fall-calving herd. These are the very heifers that you want to identify early and remove from the herd. It just makes good economic business sense to identify and cull non-pregnant replacement heifers as soon as possible.


Feeder prices and fall grazing prospects
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist

Oklahoma feeder cattle prices are currently at about the same level as this time last year. The difference is that cattle prices increased steadily last year and were on the way up. Hot, dry weather in July and August this year has pulled feeder cattle prices seasonally lower from peaks in May and June. Prices for calves less than 500 pounds are roughly 6-7 percent lower than May peaks and prices for feeder cattle over 700 pound are down 4-5 percent from June peaks. In between, feeders between 500 and 600 pounds are experiencing a bit of a hole and are currently down 11-14 percent. Feeder markets, along with fed cattle and boxed beef, appear to have bottomed for the summer and increased slightly the past week.

Despite the hot, dry weather currently in place in Oklahoma, soil moisture conditions are good and prospects for early planted wheat for grazing are favorable. Wheat stocker producers will begin planting wheat for fall and winter grazing in the next month and are no doubt already evaluating the budget prospects for winter stockers. For most of the summer, the value of added weight gain on feeder cattle has been very good. Prices for heavy feeders have remained relatively strong compared to lightweight cattle. For example, the price of medium/large, number 1 steers in Oklahoma last week was $262.57/cwt. for 500 pound steers and $220.27/cwt. for 750 pound steers. The resulting value of 250 pounds of gain is $1.36/lb. At current price levels, stocker production has attractive margin potential.

Of course, at this point is it not clear what stocker calves will cost this fall nor what feeder prices will be at the end of winter wheat grazing around March 1. Calf prices typically decrease seasonally into November (five percent down from current levels would be typical in Oklahoma) but strong wheat pasture demand may limit seasonal calf price decreases, at least in the early fall.

A bigger challenge is to anticipate feeder cattle prices next spring. The broader cattle market conditions indicate that feeder cattle supplies will build over time and feeder prices will begin eroding somewhat in 2016. March Feeder Futures are currently trading at about $198/cwt. and with historical basis levels suggest a February/March price for 750 pound steers in Oklahoma of roughly $200/cwt. This is significantly lower than the current price of $220/cwt. and makes stocker budgets much less attractive. However, feeder cattle basis has been variable and unpredictable for many months with feeder futures often discounted to cash markets resulting in strong basis relative to historical averages. For example, the 2015 February basis for 700-800 pound steers (Oklahoma) was about $10/cwt. above average levels while the March basis was close to average levels. Risk management will be more important in the coming months but is challenging due to basis uncertainty.

Feeder markets will transition from tight feeder supplies to growing supplies over the next year or more and prices may be more variable. Feeder cattle markets are likely to remain very dynamic this fall and stocker production plans should be evaluated and updated frequently. Feeder price adjustments may be unequal across cattle weights and by quality and gender, like the example of the current weakness in five-weight steer prices relative to prices for other feeder weights. Stocker producers should evaluate buying opportunities and production possibilities over as wide a range as possible of animal weights, quality and gender.

 “Cow/calf Corner” is a weekly newsletter edited by Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension cattle specialist emeritus at Oklahoma State University with contributions from additional OSU Extension specialists.

WTO hearings on US-COOL arbitrations opened to the public

The WTO dispute settlement body has scheduled arbitration meetings Sept. 15-16 in Geneva to establish damages in the dispute regarding the United States’ country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations for meat. Canada is seeking authorization for about $2.3 billion in retaliatory tariffs, while Mexico is seeking $653 million. USTR responded to those claims in this recent filing. Read more at the World Trade Organization website…

First half results reflect tough business climate for US meat exports

Source: Beefboard.org

June export data, released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the beef checkoff program, reflected a challenging first half of 2015 for U.S. beef exports.

Beef export volume in June was down 8 percent from a year ago to 213.2 million pounds, while export value fell 9 percent to $578.9 million. This was the second consecutive month that export value fell below last year’s level, resulting in first-half value being steady with 2014’s pace at $3.26 billion. First-half volume was down 10 percent to 1.16 billion pounds.

“We were aware that exports would be facing obstacles in 2015, and that keeping pace with last year’s record performance would be difficult,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The first-quarter slump was partially due to the West Coast port labor impasse, as well as intense competition from countries that continue to recognize opportunities in several markets. We were expecting to see a stronger rebound in the second quarter – and that did not materialize.”

Seng added that, while marketing budgets remain flat, competitors are beefing up efforts to capture larger shares of the red meat market. Competition continues to be a major factor, along with a strong U.S. dollar that is providing a price advantage for several competitors with slumping currencies.

Australian beef production was expected to ramp down in 2015 as the industry entered herd-rebuilding mode after several years of poor grazing conditions. But with disappointing rainfall in Australia and attractive slaughter cattle prices, beef production and exports remained record-large through the first half of the year – though some slowdown was seen in July.

Beef exports strong to Korea and Taiwan, but most markets lower year-over-year 

Beef exports to Korea overcame a slow start in 2015, finishing the first half up 8 percent in volume (134.9 million pounds) and 12 percent in value ($423.7 million). June exports were the largest in more than two years at 27.8 million pounds (up 30 percent) valued at $81.8 million (up 17 percent).

“The Korean market could see a brief downturn in July, as economic activity slowed severely in June due to the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS),” Seng cautioned. “This had a very negative effect on hotel and restaurant traffic and caused a backup in beef inventories. But consumer activity has since recovered, so the impact of MERS on exports should be short-lived.”

First-half beef exports to Taiwan were up 2 percent in volume (36.3 million pounds) and 13 percent in value ($150.5 million). June was an especially strong month, hitting a record volume of 9.2 million pounds (up 32 percent from a year ago) valued at $33 million (up 13 percent).

Other first-half results for U.S. beef exports included:

Exports to Japan were down 2 percent from a year ago in both volume (240.3 million pounds) and value ($676.7 million) – a respectable performance considering the slow start to the year (due in part to port congestion, which slowed demand for chilled beef) and the tariff advantage now enjoyed by Australian beef following implementation of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. U.S. beef remains subject to a 38.5 percent tariff in Japan, while import tariffs on Australian chilled and frozen beef are now 31.5 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively.

  • Exports to Mexico fell 7 percent in volume (238.3 million pounds) and 2 percent in value ($534.1 million) as the weakness of the peso versus the U.S. dollar has had a growing impact on beef demand in recent months.
  • The Hong Kong market began to slow near the end of 2014, and that trend continued in the first half of the year, with exports falling 18 percent in volume (130.2 million pounds) and 12 percent in value ($434.4 million).
  • Buoyed by strong demand in the Dominican Republic, exports to the Caribbean were up 3 percent in volume to 26.2 million pounds and 16 percent in value to $83.2 million.

January-June beef exports accounted for 13 percent of total production and 10 percent for muscle cuts only (down from 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, in the first half of last year). Export value averaged $291.70 per head of fed slaughter, up 7 percent year-over-year.

Complete January-June export results are available on the USMEF statistics webpage.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.

Weather damage raises tax implications

Many landowners in Oklahoma and Texas have experienced varying degrees of damage from weather events this spring and summer. Destruction has come in many ways. Winds have damaged or demolished buildings. Flooding has flattened fences by piling up debris. Rock and gravel on internal roads have disappeared while ruts remained due to travel during wet conditions. Landowners making repairs and rebuilding will incur cost. How will these be reported on the 2015 tax return? Read more at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Ag News and Views

State rolls out strict CWD regs for Texas deer breeders

Texas deer breeders could soon face a series of strict regulations to control chronic wasting disease (CWD). CWD, a neurological illness that prompts deer to stop eating, was found in a herd at a Medina County ranch. And deer ranchers are actually welcoming the rules, hoping they will then be able to see their prize bucks to deer leases before the hunting season begins. Read more and listen to the story at TPR.org…

US Drought Monitor and Summary, Aug. 4, 2015

Many areas have seen less than half their normal rainfall over the past 2 months and less than 10 percent of their normal rains over the past 30 days. The quick-hitting, flashy nature of this developing drought across the region bears watching, given the time of year and the fact that the shorter-term forecasts don’t appear overly promising. Things can go downhill in a hurry this time of year and El Niño’s chokehold on tropical storm activity to date is only enhancing the dry signal. Of course, that same pesky culprit, El Niño, may well be the one that comes to the rescue this fall and winter given the stronger likelihood of a cooler and wetter winter across the Gulf Coast region. Read more at droughtmonitor.unl.edu…