Dec. 19, 2016
Strong finish for 2016 beef markets
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
The Christmas rally in wholesale beef markets continued last week as boxed beef prices headed into the last half of December at the highest levels since early September. Choice boxed beef price has risen 6.7 percent from the late October low and was only 2.3 percent below year ago levels. This is quite impressive given that beef production continues stronger than expected in the fourth quarter. Beef production for the last four weeks is 9.1 percent above the same period last year. For the year to date, Choice boxed beef prices have averaged 12.9 percent down from year earlier levels while beef production is up 5.7 percent so far this year.
Retail Choice beef price in November was $5.76/lb., up slightly from October and down 7.2 percent from one year ago. The All Fresh retail beef price was $5.54/lb., down from $5.63/lb. in October and down 7.5 percent from last year. Despite larger total meat supplies and a particularly strong jump in beef production, retail beef prices have maintained strong ratios to pork and poultry but are slowly adjusting down. In November, The All Fresh beef to pork retail price ratio was 1.53, down from the peak of 1.65 in June, 2015. This ratio averaged 1.33 in the five years from 2009-2013 and has averaged 1.5 since Jan 2014. The All Fresh beef to broiler retail price ratio was 2.93 in November, down from the peak of 3.13 in May of 2015. The 2009-2013 average of this ratio was 2.4 but has averaged 2.98 since January 2014.
There are indications that retail beef demand has shifted somewhat back to the middle meats after several years of relatively stronger end meats. End meats have carried a relatively higher percent of carcass value since the recession that began in 2008. Mixed strength in steak demand has been countered by weak processing beef markets and lower end meat values generally in 2016. In the last four weeks, rib primal values are nearly 3 percent higher than this time last year mirroring higher Ribeye wholesale values. However, loin primal value is nearly 12 percent lower the past month year over year with Strip Loin and Short loin values down double digit percentages and Tenderloin values just about equal to one year ago. The lower loin cut values is a continuation of an apparent downward trend in relative loin values in the past decade. Chuck primal values are down just over 6 percent year over year in the past four weeks with round primal values down 8 percent compared to last year. Domestic beef demand in 2017 will depend on macroeconomic factors such as income growth and unemployment as well as the impact of larger total meat supplies. Beef export and import flows not only have a quantity impact but also change the mix of beef products that make up domestic consumption and will impact overall beef demand in 2017.
It is time to begin the early evening feeding
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
It is generally accepted that adequate supervision at calving has a significant impact on reducing calf mortality. Adequate supervision has been of increasing importance with the higher price of live calves at sale time. On most ranching operations, supervision of the first calf heifers will be best accomplished in daylight hours and the poorest observation takes place in the middle of the night.
The easiest and most practical method of inhibiting nighttime calving at present is by feeding cows at night; the physiological mechanism is unknown, but some hormonal effect may be involved. Rumen motility studies indicate the frequency of rumen contractions falls a few hours before parturition. Intraruminal pressure begins to fall in the last 2 weeks of gestation, with a more rapid decline during calving. It has been suggested that night feeding causes intraruminal pressures to rise at night and decline in the daytime.
The concept is called the Konefal method. Canadian rancher Gus Konefal reported his observations in the 1970s in a follow-up study of 104 Hereford cows, 38.4 percent of a group fed at 8:00 a.m. and again at 3:00 p.m. delivered calves during the day, whereas 79.6 percent of a group fed at 11:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. In a more convincing study, when 1331 cows on 15 farms in Iowa were fed once daily at dusk, 85 percent of the calves were born between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm.
Kansas State University scientists recorded data on 5 consecutive years in a herd of spring calving crossbred cows at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center at Hays, Kansas. They recorded the time of calving (to within the nearest one-half hour). Births that could not be estimated within an hour of occurrence were excluded. Cows were fed forage sorghum hay daily between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. For statistical purposes, the day was divided into four-hour periods.
Between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m., 34.23 percent of the calves were born;
Between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., 21.23 percent of the calves were born;
Between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. 29.83 percent of the calves were born;
Between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m., 8.41 percent of the calves were born;
Between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 am, 4.4 percent of the calves were born; and
Between 2:00 a.m. and 6 am, 1.91 percent of the calves were born.
It is interesting to note that 85.28 percent of the calves were born between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. This is very similar to Iowa data when cows were fed at dusk.
These data also revealed that for a majority of a animals in the herd, the time of calving was within 3 hours of the average time of day that cow had previously given birth. Feeding the forage in the early evening hours undoubtedly influenced the percentage of cows calving in daylight hours. (Jaeger and co-workers. Abstracts 2002 Western Section of American Society of Animal Science.)
Just how do Santa’s reindeer get the job done?
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
Have you ever wondered how Santa’s reindeer can make that monumental journey on Christmas Eve Let’s look into some key facts about reindeer that may help us understand how they get Ole St. Nick on his appointed rounds over the world.
First of all, historians report that reindeer have been domesticated by humans for more than 5000 years. Since Santa himself is no spring chicken, we can assume that they have worked together for quite a while. They should not have any trouble finding their way around. There is no need to worry about them getting lost.
We do know that reindeer are ruminants. They are like cattle in this regard. They have four compartments to their stomach. Of course Santa gets them filled up with hay and moss before he leaves the North Pole, so they should have plenty of feed stored in the four compartments to make it all around the globe. Also, cattle nutritionists have known for years that hay digests more slowly than grain, therefore the big meal that the reindeer eat before the journey should last even longer. Or just like your mom says “It’ll stick to their ribs!”
As for drinking water, that should be no problem whatsoever. In their homeland the water is all frozen so they are used to getting the moisture they need by eating snow. So as the sleigh is parked on snowy rooftops in cold weather cities, the reindeer can take on the moisture they need if they get thirsty.
How do they keep warm while flying around on Christmas Eve? The reindeer coat is made of two layers; an outer layer of bristles and an inner layer of dense fur. The fur that they have is very thick and can hold a lot of air. The “blanket” of insulation combining fur and air helps keep them warm in even the coldest of climates. Plus, flying around Christmas night in many areas of the world that are warmer than they have at home should not be a problem.
How do they fly? Well that’s a tougher question, but let’s look at what we do know about them. Reindeer are amazingly fast runners on the ground. University of Alaska researchers report that a newborn baby reindeer at one day of age can out run the fastest graduate student. By the time that they are fully grown, it is hard to tell what speeds that they could reach. Next, remember those huge antlers. Antlers of adult male reindeer can be as much as 4 feet long! Just think about it: Each reindeer has 2 sets; that’s 8 feet of antlers. And with eight reindeer, or nine, if we count Rudolph on foggy nights, that is 64 to 72 feet of total antler span. A typical small Cessna airplane only has about 36 feet of wingspan. Certainly it seems feasible those eight reindeer running that fast with all that antler span could get off the ground.
There are a couple of myths about reindeer that we should clear up. You have probably heard the poem that says that they have tiny reindeer feet. Actually, they have a very wide, large hoof that they use at home to dig through the snow to find grass and moss to eat. You’ve got to think that those wide hooves would come in handy for sliding to rather sudden stops on the small landing sites that Santa has to work with on Christmas Eve.
And you’ve probably heard the song about “up on the house top click, click, click.” Well it is true that reindeer do make a clicking sound as they walk. They have a tendon that snaps over a bone joint and makes a clicking sound on every step.
These are just a few facts about Santa’s Reindeer.mMaybe this will help us understand that age-old mystery that occurs every Christmas Eve.
Merry Christmas to all.
Cow-Calf Corner is a weekly newsletter from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
Dec. 19, 2016