Dec. 23, 2019
Placements higher in November
By Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
In the latest USDA Cattle on feed report, the Dec. 1, 2019, feedlot inventory was 12.03 million head, 102.5 percent of last year and the highest December total since 2011. The December inventory was the highest monthly total for year, as it has been six of the last ten years. The annual average feedlot inventory in 2019 was 11.62 million head, the highest twelve month moving average since the current data series began in 1996.
November marketings were 1.813 million head, 97 percent of last year and about as expected. Marketings in Texas were sharply lower at 91% of year ago levels and were down year-over-year in Nebraska (97%) and Iowa (73%) as well. Marketings in Kansas were 103% of last year and marketings were sharply higher year-over-year in South Dakota (145%), Oklahoma (114%) and Idaho (107%).
Placements in November were 104.9% of one year ago at 2.093 million head. November placements were generally higher than expected and included a 12.7% year over year increase in placements of cattle under 600 pounds. This likely reflects a somewhat delayed fall calf run combined with slow development of wheat pasture in the southern plains. In Texas, placements of cattle under 600 pounds were up 17.6% and placements weighing 600-700 pounds were up 9.1% with total Texas placements in November at 103% of one year ago. Placements were sharply higher year over year in South Dakota (160%), Colorado (132%) and Oklahoma (112%). Placements in Kansas and Iowa were 104% of one year ago and Nebraska placements were even with last year.
Higher placements the last three months have rebuilt feedlot inventories going into 2020. This follows year-over-year decreases in placements May through August that briefly pulled feedlot inventories below year-earlier levels in September and October. Despite a jump in lightweight placements in November, fall placements have included higher than typical proportions of heavy placements. From August through November, placements under 700 pounds were unchanged year-over-year while placements weighing more than 700 pounds were 3.8 percent higher than last year. Feedlots will be a bit front loaded in the first quarter of the New Year and marketings are expected strong against the April Live cattle futures contract. Of course, weather often impacts cattle performance and the timing of feedlot production this time of the year and may affect feedlot marketings through the winter.
Passive immunity status and long-term health and performance of calves
By Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
You have heard the warning “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas!” Perhaps you have not heard “What happens in the first 24 hours, impacts the rest of a calf’s life!” Veterinary scientists, while with the USDA experiment station at Clay Center, Nebraska, monitored health events and growth performance in a population of range beef calves in order to identify associations of production factors with baby calf passive immune status. Passive immunity is the receiving of antibodies from the mother’s colostrum. At this stage of life the only disease-fighting antibodies a baby calf has is via passive immunity.
Blood samples were collected at 24 hours after calving from 263 crossbred calves to determine the amount of passive maternal immunity that had been obtained from colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk produced by a cow upon giving birth. The baby calves were classified with inadequate or adequate passive immune status based on that blood sample at 24 hours of age. Growth performance and health events in the study population were monitored from birth to weaning, and after weaning throughout the feedlot phase.
The lowest levels of passive immunity were observed among calves that were sick or died prior to weaning. Calves with inadequate passive immunity had a 5.4 times greater risk of death prior to weaning, 6.4 times greater risk of being sick during the first 28 days of life, and 3.2 times greater risk of being sick any time prior to weaning when compared to calves with adequate passive transfer. Based on 24 hour proteins (most of which are antibodies or immunoglobulins) in the blood, the risk of being sick in the feedlot was also three times greater for inadequate compared to adequate calves.
Passive immune status was also indirectly associated with growth rates through its effects on calf health. Sickness during the first 28 days of life was associated with a 35 pound lower expected weaning weight. Respiratory disease in the feedlot resulted in a .09 lb lower expected average daily gain.
Thus, passive immunity obtained from colostrum was an important factor determining the health of calves both pre-and post-weaning, and indirectly influenced calf growth rate during the same periods. Therefore, cow calf producers can help themselves and the future owners of their calves by properly growing replacement heifers, providing a good health program for cows and heifers, and providing natural or commercial colostrum replacers to calves that do not receive it in adequate quantities on their own. Remember that most of the transfer of antibodies from colostrum to the calf happens in the first 6 hours. The first day sets the stage for the rest of his life. (Source: Wittum and Perino. 1995. Amer. Jour. Of Vet. Research. 56:1149.)
Christmas memories of a farm boy
By Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
It was about 60 years ago that a Christmas became memorable for this retired extension beef specialist. Christmas Eve day on the Platte Valley farm was cloudy and cool. Evening chores were to be completed earlier than usual so that the family could attend Christmas Eve services at the small Presbyterian church in town.
The hay rack was loaded with small square bales of alfalfa hay and my brother and I took the wires off of the bales and kicked the hay off the wagon as Dad drove along the creek bank feeding grounds. It was one 75 pound bale to every three cows. How my Dad knew back then that 2.5% of the body weight per day for 950 – 1000 pound cows was the proper amount, I’ll never know. After the chores were completed, it was time to get cleaned up and ready to go to town.
Every Christmas Eve, the routine was about the same. We were all dressed and getting in the pickup (yes all four would ride in the cab of a 1950 GMC green pickup with a red stock rack). Always at the last minute, one of the parents would suggest that someone had better check to make certain the corn-cob burning stove was “put out” to avoid the disaster of the house burning down. I never understood why it took both Mom and Dad to check on that stove and why it took so long to check it while my brother and I sat in the seat of the pickup. Nevertheless, they eventually emerged from the house and got in the pickup and away we went the 8 and half miles to town.
Christmas Eve was a celebration at the church. First, there was the traditional oyster stew supper that was enjoyed by everyone. Everyone that year enjoyed their stew except for my Dad. Someone had retaliated to one of Dad’s previous pranks by dosing my father’s bowl with a couple of tablespoons of cayenne pepper. After the meal had been served in the social hall/basement of the church, everyone went up to sanctuary for the candlelight service. I must confess that I don’t remember the message of the sermon, but for an 8-year-old boy on Christmas Eve, it seemed like it lasted forever. After the service, everyone was invited to go back downstairs for a surprise. Santa was there handing out brown paper bags to the children. Each bag contained an apple, an orange, some salted-in-the-shell peanuts, and couple of pieces of ribbon candy. It is amazing that I can remember what was in the sack but not what was said in the sermon! I was impressed that Santa would take time out of his busy schedule to stop by our little church to hand out the goodies.
Now it is time to go home. As we left the church we were a bit surprised to find a couple of inches of new snow on the ground. It was coming down heavily. As we drove home the large snowflakes continued to fall straight down as there was no wind. It was beautiful. Enough moonlight seeped through the clouds to give that mantel of white a bit of a glow. The scenes reminded me of pictures on some of the Christmas cards we had received. Now my mind turned toward the notion that Santa may have already visited our house. If he had been there, we would be allowed to open presents before going to bed.
I had written to Santa asking for a certain baseball glove that I saw in the local hardware/sporting goods store and had admired repeatedly. At this age, I still dreamed of playing centerfield for the New York Yankees. Arriving back home and rushing into the house, what joy I felt when the lights were turned back on and the previously bare Christmas tree now had a multitude of presents underneath the lowest branches. Yes, we could open our presents before going to bed. There were new overshoes, socks, and blue jeans. And then there was a square package about a foot wide and a foot tall that had my name on it. As I opened it, I could smell the leather and was thrilled to remove the “Alvin Dark” signature baseball glove from its box. I couldn’t wait until daylight to play catch with someone. I took the glove to bed with me. I had not given much thought to who would play baseball with me in 6 inches of snow and 25 degrees.
The next day was clear and bright and again we made the trip to the little town to have dinner with aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents. Baseball would have to wait for warmer days. As always, we came back home in time to do the chores and put out the bales of hay for the cows. It had been a super Christmas. Little did I know at the time, what a memory it would provide for another 62 years.
I hope everyone reading this has that kind of memorable Christmas this year!