Dec. 2, 2019
Winter storm impacts markets in many ways
By Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
A major winter storm disrupted Thanksgiving travel last week and will have a variety of impacts for some time. The latest snow and cold hampers an already difficult crop harvest. Though frozen conditions may increase access to muddy fields, deep snow in some areas will add additional delays to corn harvest and may further impact crop quality. On Nov. 25, 84 percent of corn harvest was completed; well behind the average of 96 percent for the date. Corn harvest was 68 percent complete in South Dakota, 57 percent in Wisconsin, 56 percent in Michigan and just 30 percent in North Dakota. Many of these areas have been hit by significant snow and blizzard conditions in this latest storm.
Winter weather often impacts cattle production, reducing production and increasing costs for ranches and feedlots. Severe weather inevitably means management challenges and higher costs for producers but may also have market impacts if poor conditions are widespread enough. The current blast of winter weather impacts a wide swath of cattle feedlots from Colorado, across parts of Nebraska and the Dakotas, part of Iowa and across Minnesota. It appears that the major cattle feeding areas in Kansas and Texas missed the bulk of this storm.
While this storm may not be widespread enough to cause noticeable fed cattle market reactions, the storm may delay cattle finishing and disrupt slaughter flows in some regions and may help ensure that the seasonal peak is in for carcass weights. Steer and heifer carcass weights have pushed above year ago levels the past few weeks with the latest steer carcass weights at 912 pounds compared to 900 pounds last year and heifer carcasses at 841 pounds, up from 836 pounds one year ago on the same date. However, for the year to date, steer carcass weights are down 3.3 pounds and heifer carcasses are down 4.4 pounds. An early storm like this may set the stage for a long period of feedlot production challenges with impacts persisting and accumulating through the winter.
Winter weather often impacts the demand side of the market. Winter storms may disrupt transportation and the flow of perishable products to markets. Though people continue to eat during storms, travel and business disruptions often reduce restaurant traffic and power disruptions may reduce meat demand as consumers hunker down and get through the storm with minimal cooking and more use of prepared and ready to eat products.
For cattle and beef markets, winter weather may have negative impacts on both supply and demand depending on the location, severity and size of storm events. The net impact is uncertain and is often difficult to isolate in aggregate market prices. However, higher costs, lost production and reduced revenues impact the entire industry from cattle producers to beef retailers.
Plan now for colostrum needs this spring
By Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
It is not too soon to begin to prepare for the spring calving season. Locating, obtaining, and storing several doses of colostrum or colostrum replacer will come in handy before the first heifers start to go into labor. Calves born after a difficult birth are at a high risk of failing to receive adequate colostrum by natural suckling because of greatly decreased colostrum intake. Calves that are born to a prolonged stage II of parturition (delivery through the pelvic canal) very often suffer from severe respiratory acidosis. Acidotic calves are less efficient at absorbing colostral immunoglobulins even if artificially fed colostrum. The only disease protection baby calves will receive is via the passive transfer of antibodies (immunoglobulins) from the colostrum that they ingest. Therefore effort should be made to provide weak newborn calves with the best source of colostrum available via bottle suckling or tube feeding.
Natural colostrum is still considered the best source of the immunoglobulins for disease protection for the calf. If there is still a dairy in your area, the opportunity may exist to obtain some natural colostrum from newly freshened dairy cows. Avoid obtaining colostrum from dairies that are known to have had an incidence of Johnes Disease. Take time to visit with a local veterinarian about avoiding the introduction of Johnes Disease into your herd.
Fresh colostrum can be stored in 1 quart doses by putting that much (1 quart) in a gallon-size Ziploc® bag. Lay the bags flat to freeze in the freezer. When it is time to thaw the colostrum, it will be easier and quicker to thaw, compared to 2 quarts or more in a big frozen chunk. The amount of immunoglobulin ingested is also a major determinant of final blood immunoglobulin concentration. A practical rule-of-thumb is to feed 5 to 6% 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 approximately 2 quarts of colostrum per feeding. Consequently, if the calf is quite large (about 100 pounds), then the amount of colostrum will need to be increased accordingly to 2 ½ quarts per feeding.
If there is no source of natural colostrum available, purchase a few doses of a commercial colostrum replacer. Colostrum replacers will contain greater than 100 grams of immunoglobulin per dose. Make certain to read the label before purchasing. Colostrum replacers may seem expensive, but the value of a live calf at weaning strongly suggests that every effort to keep all of them alive is worth the investment.