March 22, 2020
Record meat supplies in 2020
By Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
Disruptions in normal activities due to COVID-19 have produced a surge in at-home food demand. Recent reports indicate a 77 percent year over year increase in grocery meat sales in mid-March. The spike in grocery demand has overwhelmed the retail meat supply chain resulting in temporary shortages of meat in many grocery stores. The shortages are due to the tremendous logistical challenges of shifting meat supplies from food service channels to retail grocery channels.
It is critical for consumers to know that there is no shortage of meat in the U.S. In fact, production of beef, pork and poultry are projected at record levels in 2020 and are at record levels in the first quarter of the year. Production of all meat is projected at 109.3 billion pounds in 2020, up 4.3 percent year over year. Total meat production in the first quarter of 2020 is estimated at 26.9 billion pounds, up 6.9 percent year over year. Total meat production includes, beef, veal, pork, lamb and mutton, broiler, other chicken and turkey.
Broiler production, which represents about 88 percent of total poultry production, is projected at 46.0 billion pounds in 2020, up 5.8 percent year over year. Broiler production is up due to both increased slaughter and heavier bird weights so far this year. Broiler production in the first quarter is up 7.7 percent year over year.
Pork production in 2020 is projected to total 28.9 billion pounds, up 4.4 percent year over year. Hog slaughter is up 4.7 percent thus far in 2020 and carcass weights are heavier this year. First quarter pork production is estimated to be 7.6 percent higher year over year compared to one year ago.
Beef production is projected to be 1.9 percent higher year over year in 2020, totaling 27.7 billion pounds. Increased beef production is concentrated in the first half of the year. Total steer and heifer slaughter is up 3.9 percent year over year for the year to date. Steer carcass weights for the year to date are up over 21 pounds year over year with heifer carcass weights up over 12 pounds. First quarter beef production is estimated to increase 6.6 percent year over year over last year.
Poultry, pork and beef production are all at record levels of production. Total domestic meat consumption in 2020 is projected at 228.2 pounds per capita (retail weight), up 2.1 percent year over year and a record level. While COVID-19 is changing how and where meat consumption happens and is temporarily overwhelming certain supply chains, supplies of all meats are assured in 2020.
A good time to update the ranch record keeping system
By Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
The current “Covid-19” situation has temporarily changed a great deal about our daily lives. For many farm and ranch families it means that the son or daughter that had been going to high school or college is now at home and helping with the chores. Why not take advantage of the technology skills that these young people could bring to the operation?
They probably still have on-line class work to complete. Plus you need their assistance watching cows or heifers at calving time, and with feeding and caring for all livestock on the ranch. In addition, that low spot on the south 40 needs to have the fence repaired or replaced.
After all of that work is done, perhaps they could perform an especially important task of starting a new digitalized record system for the cattle operation. If the ranch already has an older computerized system in place, a modernized update of the system may make it more “user-friendly” and valuable.
A good place to start on record-keeping would be to study the National Beef Quality Assurance Manual Chapter 6. This document gives guidelines of key items to record on the vaccinations and treatments that are given to cows, calves, or yearlings. The accurate, up-to-date health records can be of value to both you and your veterinarian in assessing the effectiveness of treatments and disease protection. Plus these records can serve as aids in protecting your operation in the rare case that a violative residue is found in an animal that previously was in your control.
Health records are not the only items of information that could be put to good use by having an easily updatable record system. Production records have always been useful in selection and culling decisions. Current inventory of cattle by pasture location will be very useful in the aftermath of wildfires or tornadoes where fences are destroyed and cattle are scattered and mixed with others.
Working along side that young, tech-savvy son or daughter, as you develop a record-keeping system, will make it easier for “old-timers” to understand the record program that was developed. They young people will learn a little more about the ranch operation and you will learn a little about computer software. Who knows, you both may come away from this effort with more appreciation of each other’s skills.