U.S. beef exports continue to grow; imports steady
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
Total beef exports were up 16.8 percent year over year in July contributing to a year to date increase of 15.0 percent for the first seven months of the year. Japan, the largest beef export market, had a monthly increase of 12.9 percent and is up 7.5 percent for the year to date. Number two market South Korea continues a very strong pace, up 61.1 percent year over year in July and up 45.0 percent so far this year. Beef exports to third largest market Mexico increased 17.1 percent year over year in July and are up an even 10.0 percent for the January to July period.
Canada, the number four beef export market, was down 1.0 percent in July and is holding to a scant 0.7 percent year to date increase over last year. Number five market Hong Kong is worrisome. After increasing January through March, monthly exports to Hong Kong have decreased year over year for the last four months capped by a 32.6 percent year over year decrease in July. Year to date totals for Hong Kong are still up 5.6 percent but declining fast.
Asian markets account for nearly two-thirds of U.S. beef exports so far this year with Japan (28.4 percent of total exports) and South Korea (20.2 percent) totaling 48.6 percent total exports. Hong Kong (9.5 percent); Taiwan (5.6 percent) and Vietnam (0.9 percent) bring the total exports to Asia up to 64.6 percent. Mexico at 14.1 percent and Canada at 9.9 percent shares make the North American total 24.0 percent of U.S. beef exports. The top seven export markets represent 87.7 percent of total exports so far this year.
U.S. beef imports were down 1.9 percent year over year in July and are up fractionally at 0.5 percent above last year for the first seven months of the year. Canada, by a slim margin is the largest source of beef imports, up 1.1 percent in July and up 8.4 percent year over year so far this year. Slightly behind Canada is New Zealand, up 3.5 percent in July and up 7.7 percent for the year to date. Australia, the largest source of beef imports from 2012-2016, dropped to second place in 2017 and is in third place this year, still struggling with drought effects. Australia is experiencing severe drought again this year and is expected to struggle in 2019 as well. Beef imports from Australia were down 7.5 percent year over year in July and are up slightly from last year by 0.8 percent for the year to date. Mexico is the fourth largest source of beef imports, down 14.7 percent in July and down 14.9 percent so far this year. Nicaragua is the fifth largest source of beef imports this year and is up 6.1 percent year over year in July and up 13.6 percent thus far in 2018.
Canada (24.7 percent) and New Zealand (24.4 percent) account for nearly half of U.S. beef imports (49.1 percent) followed by Australia (20.9 percent) and Mexico (16.1 percent) for a top four total of 86.1 percent of total beef imports. Central and South America add another 12.5 percent to beef imports with Nicaragua (4.6 percent); Brazil (4.3 percent) and Uruguay (3.6 percent). The top seven import markets account for 98.6 percent of U.S. beef imports thus far in 2018.
Early weaning provides boost for young, thin cows
by Glenn Selk, OSU Extension cattle reproduction specialist
The common tradition for weaning spring-born calves is to wait until late October and even early November. Most mature cows that have been feeding on adequate summer forages will be in very good body condition, despite the pressure of nursing a rapidly growing calf. These cows will usually be in a body condition score of about 5 to 6 at weaning time each fall. However, very often two-year-old cows and even some three-year-old cows will be in marginal body condition at the end of summer. They have a nutrient requirement for continued growth and in the case of the two-year-old, they are replacing baby teeth with adult teeth and are not as effective at harvesting forage. Therefore, many of these young cows go into the fall season in a body condition score of 4 to 5 or less.
If the rancher chooses to wait until late October to wean the calves from these marginal young cows, there is very little time between weaning and the first killing frost. This is a time when a young cow could recover considerable body condition, if she has access to a plentiful supply of late summer, warm season grass. Without the nutrient drain of producing and delivering milk, she can use this pre-frost period to great advantage and replenish her own body stores.
South Dakota State examined this scenario (using mature cows) by comparing the effect of weaning date on performance of the beef cows. They weaned half of the cows at the time of the first real cool spell (Sept. 14). The other half of the cows had their calves weaned at a traditional time (Oct. 23). The scientists then monitored body condition and rebreeding performance of the cows. We should note that this study included two different nutritional levels: a low group to mimic an early winter or a dry summer; a moderate group to mimic more ideal summer and early winter seasons. Only the data for those cows exposed to the low nutritional group are presented here. They more nearly reflect what may happen for 2 and 3 year olds than will the moderately fed mature cows.
Table 1. South Dakota study of earlier weaning on mature cows (source: Pruitt and Momont; 1994 South Dakota Beef Report)
|Weaning time||September 14||October 23|
|December body condition||+.5||—–|
|% cycling 1st 21 days of breeding||83||74|
|% pregnant to 21 day AI||70||35|
|Average conception date||June 26||July 3|
This data indicates that the 40 days earlier weaning allow the cows to regain 1/2 of a body condition score going into winter. More of the early weaned cows were cycling at the start of the breeding season, conceived early in the breeding season and should wean heavier older calves the following year. In addition, a small amount of high protein supplement (i.e. cottonseed meal or soybean meal) will enhance the cow’s ability to utilize the declining quality of the late summer forage. Therefore, this protein supplement can add more body condition to the young cows before frost arrives. This combination of management techniques should be a cost effective way to increase re-breeding rates of young spring calving cows.
The data from the cows that were in the “moderate” group indicate that middle-aged (4 to 7 years of age) in excellent body condition in the fall did not significantly benefit from the earlier weaning.