Sept 16, 2019
Growing demand in China dominates global beef trade
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
In the last two or three years, China has replaced the U.S. as the leading beef importer in the world. Chinese beef imports in 2018 exceeded total U.S. beef imports. If Hong Kong is included along with mainland China, total China/Hong Kong imports were larger than U.S. beef imports beginning in 2017.
Total world beef imports have increased by 17.7% in the five years from 2015 to projected 2019 totals. Over that same period, beef imports in China increased 153.4% along with a 62.2% increase in beef imports into Hong Kong leading to a 122.6% increase in beef imports in the China/Hong Kong region. By contrast, total beef imports into the U.S. decreased by an estimated 12.3% over the 2015-2019 period. Increased beef imports into China alone accounted for more than 75% of the net increase in total world imports in this 5-year period.
In 2015, China accounted for 8.7% of world beef imports, and including Hong Kong brought the 2015 share to 13.1%. Total U.S. beef imports in 2015 accounted for 20.0% of global beef imports. Projections for 2019 show China importing 18.7% of global beef imports and along with another 6.1% of imports into Hong Kong means that the China/Hong Kong region currently accounts for a 24.8 percent share of world beef imports. U.S. beef imports are projected to account for 14.9% of world beef imports in 2019.
The rapid growth in Chinese beef imports has dramatically altered global beef flows with several countries now exporting a significant share of total exports to China. China receives the majority of beef imports from Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. Number one beef exporter Brazil currently ships about 22% of total exports to China and accounts for 31 percent of total Chinese beef imports. Brazil sends another 17% of beef exports to Hong Kong. Uruguay is currently the eighth largest beef exporting country but sends about 70% of exports to China and accounts for 21% of Chinese beef imports. Argentina, currently the sixth largest beef exporting country sends about 65% of total beef exports to the China/Hong Kong region. Argentina accounts for 17% of Chinese beef imports. Number two exporter Australia ships 16% of total beef exports to China and accounts for 17% of beef imports into China. New Zealand, the number five beef exporter, sends 26% of total exports to China and accounts for 11% of total beef imports into China.
Notably absent from the sources of Chinese beef imports are North American beef exporters. About 2% of Canadian beef exports move to China while China accounts for less than 1% of U.S. and Mexican beef exports. Hong Kong is an important export market for Canada (6% of exports); the U.S. (10% ) and Mexico (4%).
Numerous factors account for the lack of U.S. market share in China. Despite receiving access to the Chinese market in 2017, U.S. beef exports have shown almost no growth. This is partly due to the need to develop markets in China for higher quality/more expensive U.S. beef. Destined to be a lengthy endeavor, this process has been completely interrupted by the trade war and the additional tariffs currently in place in China for U.S. beef.
Restrictions on production technology allowed in beef exported to China (implants, beta agonists, etc.) mean that the supply of U.S. beef available for the Chinese market is limited. The U.S. is currently caught in a chicken and egg situation of not having much supply for the Chinese market and not having enough market potential to warrant increased production to meet Chinese demand. Nevertheless, it is important for the U.S. to participate in the growing Chinese beef market. At current levels, if the U.S. could achieve a 10 percent market share of Chinese beef imports, it would add over 11 percent to total U.S. beef exports.
Are the replacement heifers ready for the fall breeding season?
By Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
Fall-calving herds will be breeding replacement heifers in late November. Now is the time to make certain that those heifers are ready for the upcoming breeding season.
Immunize the heifers. Ask your large animal veterinarian about proper immunizations for yearling replacement heifers. Replacement heifers should be immunized for respiratory diseases such as infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and the bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVD). The heifers should receive this vaccination at least one month before the start of the breeding season. This would also be a good time to include other reproductive disease protection that may be recommended by your veterinarian. Examples of other immunizations that should be considered include leptospirosis and campylobacter (sometimes called vibriosis).
If a set of scales is available, weigh the heifers. There is time to make adjustments to the supplementation being fed to the heifers to insure that they meet the target weight at the start of the breeding season. To be certain that a high percentage of heifers are cycling at the start of the breeding season, they must weigh a minimum of 60% of their mature weight (Davis and Wettemann). See OSU Research Report 2009. If these heifers will eventually grow into 1200-pound cows, then they must weigh 720 pounds at the beginning of the estrous synchronization and artificial insemination (or bull turn-out if natural breeding is used). Calculate the weight gain needed between now and the start of the breeding season to see if additional energy is required to achieve the desired weight gain.
Some producers may choose to grow heifers at a lower rate and attempt to breed them at 55% (or lower) of their estimated mature weight. In this scenario, about twice as many heifers need to be raised, synchronized and inseminated in order to assure that adequate numbers are bred in a timely manner to meet the future needs of the herd. All of the heifers need to be pregnancy checked about 60 days after the breeding season so that non-pregnant heifers can be marketed as soon as possible.
Many small cow calf operations will not have scales available to monitor weight gain. The next best evaluation tool is to monitor body condition of the heifers. If all of the heifers are in a body condition score of 6 (based on the 1 to 9 BCS system) then they should meet the desired target weight. With adequate summer forage available this year, heifers should need only a small amount of protein supplement (1 to 2 pounds of high protein – about 40% protein- supplement per head, per day) to maintain adequate body condition going into the breeding season.