Feb. 1, 2016
Cattle Inventory: telling the new story and retelling the old one
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
The annual USDA Cattle report contains new numbers on cattle inventories and significant revisions to the 2015 numbers. It’s important to consider the revisions when interpreting the new numbers. In general, the report confirms, as expected, that cattle inventories in the U.S. grew in 2015. However, the magnitude of the changes is somewhat different than expected in some cases and reflects the impacts of the revisions in last year’s values. It’s important to look back at how the 2014 story changes as a part of understanding the 2015 story.
The latest report pegs the Jan. 1, 2016, all cattle and calves inventory at 92.0 million head, up 3.2 percent from one year ago. This increase was larger than expected but the 2015 total was revised down by roughly 650 thousand head implying that total herd growth in 2014 was 0.7 percent rather than the previously reported 1.4 percent year over year increase. The overall increase over the two year period is close to expectations but the report now says that more growth occurred in 2015 and less in 2014.
The beef cow herd was up 3.5 percent, adding just over one million head to the herd inventory as expected. However, the 2015 beef cow total was revised down nearly 400 thousand head, indicating that 2014 herd growth was only 0.7 percent rather than 2.1 percent as earlier reported. Thus, the herd growth in 2015 was equal to my expectations but the 2016 level of 30.33 million head is smaller than I anticipated.
Perhaps the biggest surprises were in the beef replacement heifer numbers. The 2016 level was up 3.3 percent, smaller than expected; but the 2015 number was revised up by roughly 300 thousand head indicating that the 2015 beef heifer total was up 9.6 percent over 2014, compared to the previously reported 4.1 percent year over year increase. As a result, the revised numbers have the 2015 beef replacement heifer total at 6.09 million head and the 2016 total at 6.29 million head. The 9.6 percent increase in beef replacement heifers from 2014 to 2015 is the largest year over year increase in replacement heifers since 1974. Beef replacement heifers are now reported at more than 20 percent of the beef cow herd for both 2015 and 2016; the highest levels since 1969.
The 2015 calf crop was estimated at 34.3 million head, up 2.3 percent from 2014. However, the 2014 calf crop was revised down from 33.9 million head to 33.5 million head. The 2016 dairy cow inventory was unchanged at 9.3 million head from the 2015 level (unrevised). Dairy replacement heifers were up 2.4 percent at 4.8 million head on top of a revised 2015 total revised up by about 100 thousand head.
The 2015 inventories of other heifers (more than 500 pounds), steers (more than 500 pounds) and calves (less than 500 pounds) were all revised down. Other heifers changed from being down 0.2 percent to down 4.6 percent; steers were revised from being up 0.7 percent to being down 0.2 percent from 2014 levels. Calves were revised from being up 0.9 percent to being down 0.2 percent year over year from 2014. The result is that the 2015 estimate of feeder supplies outside of feedlots was down 1.9 percent in 2015 rather than being up 0.5 percent as previously reported. The 2016 report leads to an estimated January 1 feeder supply of 25.9 million head, up sharply by 5.3 percent from 2015 based on more other heifers, up 2.9 percent; more steers, 4.4 percent; and more calves, up 3.9 percent. Without the revisions to the 2015 numbers, the 2016 estimated feeder supply would be up 2.8 percent.
Assisting the backwards calf
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
Any cow calf producer that has spent several years in the cattle business has had the experience of assisting a cow or heifer deliver a calf that was coming backwards. Understanding the physiology and anatomy of the calf and mother will improve the likelihood of a successful outcome. Study the diagram of the “posterior presentation” shown below.
Note the relative positions of the tailhead of the baby calf and the umbilical cord that connects the calf to the mother’s blood supply. As the calf’s hips are pulled through the pelvic opening, the baby calf’s tail will reach the outer areas of the mother’s vaginal opening. Once a person can see the baby calf’s tailhead, the umbilical vessels are being compressed against the rim of the mother’s pelvic bone. The blood flow, exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide, between calf and mother is greatly impaired, if not completely clamped off.
Research, many years ago, conducted in Europe illustrates how little time it takes to compromise the calf’s survivability when the umbilical cord is clamped. These scientists studied the impact of clamping the umbilical cord for 0, 4, 6, or 8 minutes.
Table 1. Impact of clamping of umbilical vessels on calf survivability
|Duration of Clamping||Number of Calves||Fate of Calves|
|0 minutes||5 calves||All of the 5 calves lived|
|4 minutes||5 calves||4 lived; 1 died|
|6 minutes||3 calves||3 died|
|8 minutes||3 calves||3 died|
Certainly, if a producer does not feel confident in their abilities to deliver the backward calf, call your veterinarian immediately. Time is of the essence. As producers examine heifers or cows at calving and find a situation where the calf is coming backward, they need to keep this European data in mind. If the calf’s hips are not yet through the pelvic opening, they have a little time to locate help and have someone else to aid in the assistance process. Locate and notify someone to assist you before the “pulling” begins.
If the hips are causing severe resistance, pull with the chains crossed in order to cause a quarter turn of the hips. This quarter turn will align the widest part of the hips with vertical axis of the pelvic opening. The vertical axis of the pelvic opening is greater than the horizontal axis. Once the cow and the producer in concert have pushed and pulled the calf’s hips through the pelvic opening and the tailhead is apparent, the calf needs to be completely delivered as quickly as possible. The remainder of the delivery should go with less resistance as the hips are usually the toughest part to get through the pelvic opening. The shoulders may provide some resistance. However, some calf rotation and traction being applied as the cow strains will usually produce significant progress. Remember, the completion of the delivery is to be accomplished in about 4 minutes or less. If you discover that the calf’s legs are also still not through pelvic opening and all you can feel is the calf’s tail (a breech presentation), then call your local veterinarian immediately. A breech presentation often requires a spinal block or caesarian section to deliver the calf.
After a backwards calf is delivered, the calf must begin breathing as soon as possible. The calf’s head and nostrils are in the uterine fluids and cannot breathe until completely delivered. The calf must get oxygen rapidly to offset the hypoxia that it is been subjected to during the delivery. After the calf is delivered, clean the mouth and nostrils of fluids and tickle it’s nostrils with a straw to cause snorting and inhalation of air to get it started to breathing. Learn more about working with cows and heifers at calving time by downloading and reading OSU Extension Circular E-1006 Calving Time Management of Beef Cows and Heifers.
“Cow/calf Corner” is a weekly newsletter edited by Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension cattle specialist emeritus at Oklahoma State University with contributions from additional OSU Extension specialists.