Sept. 9, 2019
Cattle trade update
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
Total cattle imports in July were down 4.1 percent with year-to-date total cattle imports up 14.7 percent year over year for the January through July period. Cattle imports in 2018 totaled 1.9 million head, including 66.8 percent Mexican cattle and 33.2 percent from Canada. Feeder cattle imports (from Mexico and Canada) accounted for 77.5 percent of total cattle imports with slaughter cattle (from Canada) adding another 21.8 percent of the total. Breeding cattle imports made up less than one percent of total cattle imports.
Data for July showed that monthly cattle imports from Mexico were down 7.4 percent compared to July 2018. Year-to-date cattle imports from Mexico for the first 7 months of the year are up 12.5 percent year over year. Thus far in 2019, feeder heifers made up 19.8 percent of Mexican cattle imports and steers accounting for 80.1 percent of Mexican cattle imports. The proportion of steers and heifers is unchanged from 2018 levels. A total of 1.27 million head of Mexican cattle were imported in 2018, equivalent to 3.5 percent of the 2018 U.S. calf crop.
July cattle imports from Canada were up 2.5 percent year over year, contributing to a 19.0 percent year-to-date increase in total Canadian cattle imports for the first 7 months of this year. For the January to July period, Canadian cattle imports consisted of 33.0 percent feeder cattle and 61.8 percent slaughter cattle. Feeder cattle imports from Canada included 76.7 percent heifers, up 19.5 percent year over year. Year-to-date feeder steer imports are down 18.0 percent with total Canadian feeder cattle imports up 8.0 percent. Canadian feeder cattle imports in 2018 totaled just over 205 thousand head, equal to 0.6 percent of the 2018 U.S. calf crop.
Canadian slaughter cattle imports thus far in 2019 are up 26.7 percent year over year and include 66.2 percent slaughter steers and heifers and 33.8 percent slaughter cows and bulls. Year-to-date slaughter steer and heifer imports are up 45.5 percent year over year. 2018 slaughter steer and heifer imports from Canada totaled 239,317 head, and represented 0.9 percent of total yearling slaughter in the U.S. Year-to-date imports of Canadian slaughter cows and bulls are up 1.0 percent year over year. Total imports of slaughter cows and bulls in 2018 were 175,495 head and accounted for 2.6 percent of total U.S. cow and bull slaughter.
Cattle exports from the U.S. were down 3.4 percent in July with a year-to-date total of 128,050 head, up 21.3 percent year over year. Cattle exports consisted of 84.9 percent to Mexico with another 10.1 percent to Canada.
Repeatability of calving difficulty
By Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
An Oklahoma cow-calf producer once asked about the repeatability of calving difficulty in young cows. He had a 2-year-old heifer that endured a very difficult delivery. After the event is over and the cow and calf are doing well, the rancher can’t help but ask the question: “If a heifer has calving difficulty this year, what is the likelihood that she will have trouble again next year?” That question is followed by the thought of the money invested in this young heifer to grow her to a two-year old. Should she be culled next spring at weaning because of calving difficulty this fall?
A look back through the scientific literature sheds some light on this subject. Research conducted by Colorado State University and published in 1973 looked at parturition records of 2733 Hereford calves sired by 123 bulls and born to 778 cows/heifers. (Source: Brinks, et al. Journal of Animal Science 1973 Vol. 36 pp 11-17). A repeatability estimate was obtained from heifers calving both as 2- and 3-year-olds. The repeatability estimate was a lowly 4.5%. Of 195 heifers which had no difficulty in calving at two years of age, 7.2% had difficulty as 3 year olds. Of the 77 two-year old heifers which experienced calving difficulty, 11.7% had difficulty again as 3-year-olds.
However, repeatability of calving difficulty may not tell the whole story. Heifers that experienced calving difficulty as 2 year-olds weaned 11% fewer calves of those born the first year and 14% fewer calves per cow exposed the second year compared to contemporaries that had no difficulty at first calving. The calves from 3 year-olds that had calving difficulty at 2 years of age were born an average of 13 days later and were 46 pounds lighter at weaning than calves from 3 year old dams that experienced no difficulty at 2 years of age.
From this research we learned that calving difficulty as a 2-year-old had a profound effect on productivity. The likelihood that calving difficulty will happen again next year is only slightly greater than in heifer counterparts that calved unassisted this year. Proper heifer development to a body condition score of 5.5 or 6 at calving, along with breeding heifers to bulls with a higher calving ease direct EPD should help reduce calving difficulty in two-year olds.