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Move your beef cattle forward

James Randklev/Getty Images Hereford cattle grazing on hillside
LOOKING AHEAD: If demand for beef and feeder cattle remains strong into the coming year, there is cause for some optimism in the industry.
Refine your management practices: evaluate, adapt, improve and repeat.

As I reflect over what we have worked through in the beef industry over the past 15 months, some of which being unprecedented times, I am fairly optimistic heading into the new year.

As we move into 2022, and hopefully past the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are opportunities to refine management practices that can have an effect on the bottom line.

There is no doubt the pandemic, supply chain issues and workforce shortages had major impacts on cattle prices the first half of 2021. However, what we have seen since late June is fed cattle prices at or higher than the five-year average.

A week or so ago, Kenny Burdine of the University of Kentucky highlighted the following in his weekly cattle market notes: “Yet in 2021, fed cattle prices have trended upward since spring and did not put in a fall bottom at all. The last few weeks have been especially encouraging, as prices have risen by more than $6 per cwt since the first week of October.”

Having wrapped up the OCA Replacement Female Sale, demand for replacement females remains strong, partly influenced by sustained strong cull cow prices and optimism in feeder calf prices looking ahead to the next marketing year.

If demand for beef and feeder cattle remain strong into the coming year, there is cause for some optimism in the industry in 2022. Of course, there remains continued concern regarding input costs over the next year.

Offsetting high inputs

To offset higher input costs, producers will have to look at ways to either improve efficiency, increase revenue or reduce input costs. Reducing costs in the areas of herd health and fertility can be even more costly.

As producers look at ways of improving efficiency and maximizing potential of production systems, members of the OSU Extension Beef Team have started a research project that may allow for assisting in herd management at the individual farm level.

About a year ago, I mentioned this idea of an on-farm assessment of management practices of Ohio cow-calf producers. After several iterations, the first phase of that assessment is online, as we look to better understand and serve clientele across the state.

By better understanding practices implemented by Ohio producers, the OSU Extension Beef Team will be able to tailor programming more specifically to meet producers’ needs. Furthermore, this survey might indicate potential for areas of research we have yet to identify through current processes.

This type of project is nothing new, just new to Ohio. Our colleagues and counterparts in other states have been doing similar work over the years. Our goal is to take the knowledge gained regarding your production practices and be able to create better programming and recommendations to have a positive impact on farm efficiency and profitability.

The survey can be found at go.osu.edu/ohiocattlesurvey. In the survey, you will also see an opportunity for a follow-up discussion with your county Extension agent or me, where we will take a deeper dive into specific on-farm practices in the areas of reproduction, herd health, facilities, forage management and marketing.

Registration for our winter statewide beef cattle programs will be available soon.

A virtual cow-calf school will feature monthly webinars looking at timely topics, the beef market outlook, managing mud during calving season and beef herd health.

The 2022 Feedlot School will be in both Mercer and Sandusky counties on Feb. 8. The 2022 in-person Cow-Calf School will be in Brown County on Feb. 24.

For more information about upcoming programs, stay tuned to beef.osu.edu and the Ohio Beef Letter.

Ruff is a beef cattle field specialist with OSU Extension.

TAGS: Management
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