Plenty of feedlot cattle to start 2018
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist
The Jan. 1, 2018 inventory of cattle in feedlots was 11.49 million head, 108.3 percent of year earlier levels. This is an increase of 884,000 head compared to Jan. 1, 2017, and is the largest January on-feed total since 2012. For the twelve months of 2017, feedlot placements totaled 23.5 million head, up 1.91 million head (an 8.8 percent increase) from 2016. Total 2017 marketings increased 1.03 million head year over year, up 4.9 percent.
December placements were up 0.8 percent year over year, slightly more than expected. This follows large year over year placement increases in September, October and November. December marketings were equal to expectations, down 1.4 percent from the previous year. December had one less business day compared to a year earlier, thus daily average marketings were still larger year over year as it was every month in 2017. In the last five months of 2017, feedlot placements exceeded marketings by 506,000 head. These additional cattle will be marketed in the first 4-6 months of 2018.
December feedlot placements consisted of an unusual pattern of weights with increased year over year placements of feeders under 600 pounds and over 1000 pounds. Placements of typical weights from 600-900 pounds were down 4.7 percent year over year. Beginning in 2017, monthly cattle on feed reports now include more detail on placements of feeder cattle over 800 pounds; with data now showing 800-899, 900-999, and over 1000 pound placement categories. Over the twelve months of 2017, feedlot placements over 1000 pounds represented 4.3 percent of total placements; 900-999 pounds were 8.9 percent; and 800-899 pounds were 21.8 percent of total placements. The 700-799 pound weight group was the largest category at 24.9 percent. Placements of feeders from 600-699 pounds was 18.5 percent of the total placements while those under 600 pounds were 21.5 percent of the total. Placements under 600 pounds likely includes many dairy calves and seasonally some beef calves. Total placements of feeders under 600 pounds were up 11.4 percent in 2017 over 2016; including a 30 percent year over year jump in under 600-pound placements in November that was attributed to lack of wheat pasture in the Southern Plains.
The latest cattle on feed report also included the breakdown of steers and heifers on feed. Steers on feed for Jan. 1 were 7.34 million head, up 4.5 percent year over year. Heifers on feed were 4.15 million head, up 15.9 percent over one year ago. The number of steers on feed was the largest since 2008 while the number of heifers on feed was the largest since 2012. The heifer feedlot inventory swelled sharply in the last half of 2017 and indicates slowing heifer retention. However, it should be noted that the ratio of steer to heifer slaughter in 2017 was still well above long-term average levels meaning that growing heifer feedlot inventories relative to steers is really just getting back to more typical levels of heifer feeding after sharp reductions due to drought and herd expansion since 2012.
Lengthy, difficult births adversely affect newborn calves
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
Calves born after a prolonged, difficult birth are at a high risk of failing to receive adequate colostrum by natural suckling because of greatly decreased colostrum intake. Calves failing to receive adequate colostrum in a timely manner are more prone to diseases such as scours, and respiratory diseases later in life. Calves that are born to a prolonged stage 2 of parturition very often suffer from severe respiratory acidosis. Stage 2 is defined as the period of labor from the first appearance of the water bag until the calf is completely expelled and on the ground.
Acidosis occurs as the umbilical cord is pinched off at the pelvic rim during delivery. Therefore, the flow of oxygen from mother to calf and the return of carbon dioxide from calf to mother is impaired. The buildup of carbon dioxide and its byproduct lactic acid, in the blood of the newborn causes the blood pH of the calf to be lowered and therefore, the calf suffers from acidosis. Severe acidosis and low blood oxygen may cause damage to major organs of the calf, including the brain. Some ranchers may have observed calves that seem to be abnormal in behavior and are often called “dummy” calves.
Calves that have endured a lengthy stage 2 of delivery and are suffering from severe acidosis are often very sluggish and VERY slow to stand up, find the mother’s teat and nurse. This delay in ingestion of the colostrum leads to poorer immunoglobulin absorption because of normal intestinal closure. Immunoglobulin is a big word for the large proteins that are “disease-protecting antibodies.” In addition, “acidotic” calves are less efficient at absorbing colostral immunoglobulins, even if artificially fed colostrum. Therefore, efforts should be made to provide weak newborn calves with the best source of colostrum available via bottle suckling or tube feeding.
The amount of immunoglobulin ingested is also a major determinant of final serum immunoglobulin concentration. A practical “rule-of-thumb” is to feed 5 to 6 percent of the calf’s body weight within the first 6 hours and repeat the feeding when the calf is about 12 hours old. For an 80 pound calf, this will equate to at least 2 quarts of colostrum per feeding. Feed the natural or commercial colostrum first, before the calf is fed whole milk that is not colostrum. Once the calf has consumed any milk product, the intestine speeds up the process of intestinal closure, which would inhibit the absorption of antibodies from colostrum fed later.
Cow-Calf Corner is a newsletter from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Agency.