Feb. 27, 2017
Implications of heavyweight feedlot placements
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
The February USDA Cattle on Feed showed that January feedlot placements were 111.3 percent of last year while marketings were 110.2 percent of one year ago. There was one extra business day this January compared to last year. The Feb. 1 on-feed total was 10.8 million head, 100.7 percent of last year. The report was well anticipated with no surprises in any of the numbers.
Something new beginning with this report is more detail on heavyweight feedlot placements. This and future reports will include a breakdown of over 800 pound placements into 8-900 pounds, 9-1000 pounds and over 1000 pounds for the national totals. For individually reported states, the reports will detail 8-900 pounds and over 900 pound totals. This additional weight breakdown is important and needed as heavy feedlot placements have increased significantly in recent years.
Prior to 2012, the annual average percent of heavy placements each month was fairly constant at about 28 percent. Starting in 2012, the percent of heavy placements has increased steadily to the 2016 average of 36.8 percent. Not knowing how weights were distributed above 800 pounds has made it difficult to anticipate the market timing of heavy placements. The new data shows that 8-900 pound placements made up 71.8 percent of over 800 pound placements in January compared to 74.1 percent one year ago. 9-1000 pound placements made up 20.3 percent of over 800 pound placements compared to 19 percent in January 2016. Placements over 1000 pounds were 7.9 percent of heavy placements compared to 6.9 percent last year. In total, placements over 900 pounds represented 8.1 percent of placements in January compared to 8.4 percent last year. Over time the value of this data will grow as more history is accumulated and averages and seasonal patterns emerge.
Additional heavy-weight feedlot placements are one of several factors that have contributed to rapid increases in slaughter and carcass weights in recent years. Data on more than 500 thousand head of cattle from a large Southern Plains feedlot shows that heavy placements have different implications for final feedlot weight of cattle compared to lighter-weight placements. The feedlot data shows that for steers placed between 600-850 pounds, each additional pound of placement weight increases sale weight by an average of 0.52 pounds. However, above 850 pounds, each additional pound of placement weight is matched by one additional pound of sale weight.
A similar but even more exaggerated pattern is true for heifers, with placements between 550-800 pounds producing an average of 0.48 pounds of sale weight for each additional pound of placement weight. For heifers placed over 800 pounds, each additional pound of placement weight results in 1.38 pounds of additional sale weight.
The increase in heavy-weight feedlot placements in recent years was no doubt heavily motivated by high feedlot cost of gain over much of the period. However, even with sharply lower feed costs in 2017, there are several reasons that placement weights may not decline much in the coming months. Feedlots generally prefer to feed older, heavier cattle which is more possible with growing cattle numbers. Continued changes in cattle genetics, feeding management and feeding technology allow cattle to be fed efficiently to heavier weights. Placement of heavier animals in feedlots may also be contributing to the increase in the Choice grading percent in recent years. Nevertheless, slaughter and carcass weights will likely increase more slowly or plateau in coming years, in part because of demand limitations for ever larger carcasses.
Good records and visible identification can ease the pain of a disaster
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal acientist, and Gant Mourer, Oklahoma State University Beef Quality Enhancement specialist
Spring time is thunderstorm season across the Plains. Spring storms occasionally bring severe winds or even tornadoes. Windy spring days also can cause wildfires to move rapidly across range lands. Cleaning up after a severe storm or wildfire is difficult enough. Losing valuable cattle brings additional financial hardship to the situation.
Cattle loss can occur in several scenarios: Livestock may be killed, lost, or stolen during a stormy situation. Branding today is still the most recognized and accepted means of indicating ownership of cattle in North America. Eventually, other methods such as electronic”chipping” may become the standard for identification, but until this procedure becomes a more economical and practical alternative, producers will continue to utilize the time-tested, permanent, and universal method of branding.
State registration of your brand is not required by law in Oklahoma. However, recorded brands take precedence over similar unrecorded brands when questions of ownership arise. Registered brands are prima facie evidence of ownership in a court of law. Brands are recorded by The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association (OCA). For more information contact OCA at 405-235-4391 or www.okcattlemen.org.
A brand is defined as a permanent mark not less than three inches in length or diameter and burned into the hide with a hot iron. “Freeze branding” is also a recognized form of legally identifying animal ownership in Oklahoma. Cattlemen can read more details about hot iron and freeze branding by downloading the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet ANSI-3255 Livestock Branding in Oklahoma. Producers should follow Beef Quality Assurance guidelines when choosing locations of hot iron brands.
An accurate accounting of livestock and property is essential to a cattle operation’s storm preparedness. Keep a CURRENT inventory of all animals and the pastures where they are located. Individual animal ID tags on all animals serve several purposes, but can become extremely valuable if cattle become scattered or even stolen. During the spring calving season, update these records frequently to reflect the newborn calves that are arriving.
If these records are computer based, consider having a back-up copy stored at a neighbor’s or a relative’s house. These can be emailed to a relative or trusted neighbor to insure that a digital copy is always available. Hand written records can be photocopied and placed in two different locations. We do not like to think about the unthinkable situation of a direct hit on our home or livestock buildings, but tornadoes and wildfires occasionally do destroy these dwellings. After the disaster is over, that second set of records could prove to be very inexpensive and very helpful.
Cow-Calf Corner is a weekly newsletter by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Agency.
Feb. 27, 2017