Feb. 8, 2021
Feeder supply facts
By Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
The Cattle inventory report provides lots of information but does not answer one important question: What is the inventory of feeder cattle available to be placed in feedlots for finishing? We calculate an estimate of the supply of feeder cattle by summing the reported inventories of steers (more than 500 pounds), other (non-breeding) heifers (more than 500 pounds) and calves (less than 500 pounds) and then subtracting the reported inventory of cattle on feed. The resulting value is an estimate of weaned feeder cattle outside of feedlots (in stocker or backgrounding programs) plus unweaned suckling calves.
The estimated feeder supply for Jan. 1, 2021, is 25.66 million head, fractionally lower year over year (Table 1). The fact that the 2020 calf crop was down 1.3% year over but the estimated feeder supply was only down 0.2% compared to last year indicates that a larger proportion of calves and yearlings were carried over from 2020 into 2021. This is consistent with the fact that total feedlot placements were down 4.1% in 2020.
Feeder cattle supplies are starting the year relatively large but are expected to decrease as 2021 progresses. However, the cattle on feed inventory on Jan. 1 (14.71 million head) is a record 57.3% of the feeder cattle supply. This means there are less than two head of feeder cattle available outside feedlots for every animal currently on feed. This ratio has averaged 53.3% in the last decade and is up from less than 40% three decades ago. This indicates that cattle are being used much more intensively over time.
The stocker ratio is calculated as the feeder supply as a percent of previous year calf crop and is 0.737 or 73.7% for the U.S. in this report. This means that after replacement heifers, veal slaughter and feedlot placement of calves are accounted for, 73.7% of last year’s calf crop is still available as feeder supply.
The January Cattle report also provides detailed information for all states. (This is the only time such information is available; The July cattle report is national level only.) Table 1 shows estimated feeder supplies and stocker ratios for the top ten states and for regions of the U.S. Feeder supplies are largest in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. These three states (designated the Southern Plains) account for more than 28% of total feeder supplies. The Northern Plains and Midwest regions also have large inventories of feeder cattle.
States with stocker ratios well over the U.S. average of 73.7% indicate net inflows of cattle for stocker and backgrounding operations. The highest stocker ratios are found in Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Nebraska. By contrast, some states keep only small percentages of their calf crops and are net exporters to stocker states. Montana has lowest stocker ratio of any state at 34.8%. The Northern and Southern Rockies, the Northwest, Southwest and the South have low stocker ratios. This indicates the general flow of stocker and feeder cattle to the middle of the country on their way to feedlots.
Table 1. Estimated Feeder Cattle Supply and Stocker Ratio, 2021
|State||Feeder Supply^||% Change||Stocker Ratio*|
|% of U.S.|
|Northwest||ID, OR, WA||1,080||4.2||-0.6||55.1|
|Southwest||AZ, CA, NV, UT||1,736||6.8||-1.3||63.1|
|N Rockies||MT, WY||800||3.1||-2.6||39.0|
|S Rockies||CO, NM||705||2.8||-2.1||50.0|
|N Plains||NE, ND, SD||3,376||13.2||+3.8||75.9|
|S Plains||KS, OK, TX||7,245||28.2||+1.0||90.8|
|Great Lakes||MI, MN, WI||1,711||6.7||-3.4||67.4|
|Midwest||IL, IN, IA, MO, OH||3,425||13.4||-2.4||83.0|
|Gulf||AR, LA, MS||1,116||4.4||+2.3||74.4|
|South||AL, FL, GA||1,213||4.7||+0.9||62.9|
|Appalachian||KY, TN, WV||1,568||6.1||-0.9||79.4|
|E Seaboard||NC, SC, VA||923||3.1||-3.8||83.2|
^[(Steers >500 + Other Heifers >500 + Calves <500) – Cattle on Feed]
*Estimated Feeder Supply as % of Calf Crop
**CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT
Proper vaccine storage is important in cold winter weather
By Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
Very cold temperatures cause extra problems for cow calf producers as they strive to take the best care possible of the cows and the calves during extreme winter weather. In addition to the cold stress on the cattle, producers need to be aware of the need for proper storage of important biological products that will be required for the health of the herd. Normally, the concern about vaccine storage in refrigerators is during summer and the need to keep them cool. Nonetheless, very low night time winter temperatures can have an adverse effect on vaccines that are stored in refrigerators that are located in unheated enclosures such as tack rooms in barns.
Each year cow calf producers spend thousands of dollars for vaccine products to immunize calves, replacement heifers, and adult cows and bulls. A vaccine can cost more than $3 a head, and if not stored properly that vaccine can be rendered in effective. Producers cannot afford to overlook the importance of how they store vaccine and handle it prior to injection.
Most biological products should be stored under refrigeration at 35 to 45⁰ F unless the nature of the product makes storing at a different temperature advisable (APHIS 2007). Read the insert or box label carefully to discover the recommended storage temperature. If vaccines are not stored within this temperature range, efficacy to the calf can and will be reduced. Killed vaccines are especially susceptible to freezing temperatures. Freezing a killed vaccine will alter the adjuvant or delivery system of a killed vaccine. This, in turn, negatively affects the immune response to the antigen in the vaccine. Modified live viruses (MLV) are more stable but can be in-activated if they are repeatedly cycled above or below the required temperature range (Gunn et al, 2013). Also, once activated by mixing, MLV’s effective life will be reduced to one to two hours and need to be maintained at the 35⁰ to 45⁰ F. This can be accomplished by only mixing the doses that you will use at that time and use a cooler to maintain temperature while working cattle.
Researchers from the University of Arkansas and Idaho went to farms and ranches in their states and analyzed the consistency of temperatures for different types, ages and locations of refrigerators over a 48 hour period. They found that only 26.7% and 34.0% of refrigerators were within the acceptable temperature limit 95% of the time, respectfully. Refrigerator location can also affect temperature. Refrigerators located in barns (35.6 ⁰F) were colder than in mud rooms (41.72 ⁰F) and kitchens (40.82 ⁰F). (Troxel and Barham 2009). Temperature within a 24 hour period can also be highly variable for individual refrigerators. Troxel and Barham (2009) demonstrated some refrigerators may take up to 8 hours to cool down to the 45⁰ F, while others will remain too cold varying from 24.8 ⁰F to 35.6 ⁰F.
Producers need to be aware of these variations in temperature so they are able to adjust refrigerator temperature as needed. Thermostats can also be very variable from unit to unit, so keeping a thermometer inside works well to monitor and to make adjustments as need. Simple indoor-outdoor thermometers work well to achieve this goal. The outdoor unit can be placed in the refrigerator while the LCD display can be hung with a magnet on the door. This allows temperature to be monitored without opening the door and many models will record the high and the low temperature in a 24 hour period so producers can adjust accordingly.
Very inexpensive digital thermometers can be purchased and placed in the refrigerator that will allow the producer to check the refrigerator on those extremely cold nights or very hot days to make certain that the unit is within the desired range. (Source: Can storage of vaccine affect its efficacy?, Mourer, Oct. 30, 2017 Cow Calf Corner Newsletter).