Jan. 16, 2017
Wheat pasture and hay stocks
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
The storm this past weekend brought significant ice and damage to western and northwestern Oklahoma but the ice was generally less severe than expected in central Oklahoma. Most of the state, however, received very beneficial rain totaling one to three inches in many areas. The rain totals included record daily rainfall for several locations on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. This moisture will help alleviate rapidly expanding drought conditions across the state.
The latest Drought Monitor showed that 88 percent of the state had drought conditions ranging from D1-D4. This compares to just three months ago when 62 percent of the state had no dry conditions. Dry and cold conditions through December and early January slowed or stopped wheat growth and left wheat pastures in increasingly poor condition. Many stocked wheat pastures are very short which has forced producers to increase hay feeding or move cattle to other pastures or to market.
Amidst a slew of USDA reports last week was Dec. 1 hay stocks, included in the January Crop Production report. Total U.S. hay stocks on Dec. 1 were up 0.9 percent from one year ago; however, state totals differed widely. The report confirms the impact of drought in the southeast with Alabama hay stocks down 34.4 percent year over year, Georgia down 13.6 percent and Mississippi down 5.3 percent from one year ago. December hay stocks were lower as well in Tennessee and Kentucky compared to last year.
Texas, which has typically had the largest state hay stocks in the past fifteen years, was up a whopping 25 percent to the largest state level since 2007. Nearby, Oklahoma, with the third largest December hay stocks, was up 4.6 percent year over year along with Arkansas, up 11.4 percent and Kansas (fifth largest state stocks), up 3.9 percent from last year.
Farther north, December hay stocks were 9.1 percent lower year over year in South Dakota, with the second largest hay stocks, as were North Dakota, down 7.8 percent; Nebraska, down 9.8 percent; Missouri (fourth largest hay stocks), down 4.5 percent; and Iowa, down 19.2 percent. Hay stocks were larger year over year in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho along with Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Cash feeder cattle prices have started 2017 generally stronger, especially for calves. The combined Oklahoma weekly auction volume for the first full week of January was over 44,000 head, sharply higher than the 28,000 for the same week last year, which may reflect cattle sales due to poor wheat pasture conditions as well as cattle carried over from the end of 2016 for tax reasons.
Some producers may be selling one set of stockers now, hoping to buy a second set for wheat graze-out, assuming wheat pasture conditions improve in the next few weeks. Cash fed cattle prices have carried end of year strength from 2016 into 2017. Immediate feedlot supplies may be relatively tight due to aggressive marketing in late 2016 and weather impacts that have slowed cattle performance in feedlots. Live and Feeder cattle futures have been extremely volatile so far in January with volatility likely to continue which will continue to hamper the usefulness of futures as risk management tools. Boxed beef prices dropped sharply in the first ten days of January as packers apparently flushed out the beef pipeline following the holidays. However, Choice boxed beef prices appeared to stabilize at the end of last week. The next couple of weeks will likely provide a better picture of underlying trends in boxed beef, as well as cattle markets, going forward.
Prepare a “calving kit” before spring calving season begins
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
Before the hustle and bustle of the spring calving season, now is a good time to put together the supplies and equipment that will be needed to assist heifers and cows that need help at calving time.
Before calving season starts, do a “walk-through” of pens, chutes, and calving stalls. Make sure that all are clean dry, strong, safe, and functioning correctly. This is a lot easier to do on a sunny afternoon than a dark night when you need them.
Protocol: Before calving season starts develop a plan of what to do, when to do it, who to call for help (along with phone numbers), and how to know when you need help. Make sure all family members or helpers are familiar with the plan. It may help to write it out and post copies in convenient places. Talk to your local veterinarian about your protocol and incorporate his/her suggestions. Below is an example of a “Calving Protocol” that could be laminated and hung in the barn or calving shed. Note: this is just an example. You may wish to include other important steps in the protocol. Encourage everyone that will be watching and helping cows and heifers this calving season to read Oklahoma State University Extension Circular E-1006, “Calving Time Management for Beef Cows and Heifers.”
Lubrication: Many lubricants have been used and one of the best lubricants is probably the simplest: non detergent soap and warm water.
Supplies: The stockmen should always have in their medicine chest the following: disposable obstetrical sleeves, non- irritant antiseptic, lubricant, obstetrical chains (60 inch and/or two 30 inch chains), two obstetrical handles, mechanical calf pullers and injectable antibiotics. Also have a tincture of iodine solution that can be used to treat navels of newborns shortly after birth. Don’t forget the simple things like a good flashlight and extra batteries and some old towels or a roll of paper towels.
It may be helpful for you to have all these things and other items you may want to include packed into a 5 gallon bucket to make up a “calving kit” so you can grab everything at once. Place that bucket in a location that can be found and reached by everyone in the operation.
Who to call: Countryside Large Animal Clinic 405-123-1234
Dr. Jones cell phone 405-321-4321
Dad’s cell phone 405-999-0000
Billy Ray’s cell phone 405-777-1111
Watch heifers 1 hour after water bag or baby calf feet appear.
Watch cows 30 min after water bag or baby calf feet appear.
Find calving kit on North wall of calving barn.
Use plenty of lube or soap and water.
Determine that cervix is dilated and calf is coming head and both front feet first. Call for help if something is unusual.
Don’t pull until cervix is completely dilated.
Apply ¼ turn as hips go through pelvic bone.
Backwards calf must be delivered within 4 minutes after calf’s tail appears.
Briskly tickle nostril of calf with stiff straw to start breathing.
Clean chains and handles and replace calving kit.