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USDA Report Sends Cattle Prices Up

The USDA said recently there are 300 million more bushels of carryover corn from 2009 than it had reported previously.

The report drove down corn prices but gave a boost to the cattle market.

The surplus number was raised to 1.7 billion bushels.

December corn plunged during the morning on the Chicago Board of Trade, before recovering at $4.96. A drop in the carryover corn stocks earlier had helped corn rise from a yearly low of $3.45 in June to above $5 this month.

To read the entire article, link here.

Cow Culling Considerations

It's fall, and for many ranches, that can mean time to reduce the cow herd by getting rid of any females that aren't earning their keep. But sometimes the decisions aren't black and white, so we asked two cattlemen to share their cow culling considerations.

When a brood cow is past her prime, she goes from being an asset to an operation to being a burden. Instead of making money, she costs money. Most producers strive to sell cows before they reach that point, maximizing their profits.

And while there is no guarantee when it comes to choosing which females to keep and which to cull, a thorough examination and good records can go a long way in the decision-making process.

To read the entire article, link here.

Tips For Optimal Cattle Health

The improvements in handling facilities and vaccinations for cattle have allowed producers to work with animals more effectively and efficiently with less people. With all the new technology out there, cattle should be under less stress and be more efficient, so when Dr. Tom Noffsinger told a large group of producers that feedyard mortality has increased 40%, despite all the new generation antibiotics and improved vaccine technology, there was a definite hush in the room. Noffsinger recently spoke to a group of over 300 producers during the annual Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney, NE.

Noffsinger is a senior partner of Twin Forks Clinic in Benkleman, NE. As part of his daily routine, Noffsinger is a consultant to beef feeding and cow-calf operations in the areas of health, performance and animal behavior. Along with Dr. Lynn Locatelli, who is a practitioner at the clinic, Noffsinger has learned and applied some concepts that renowned low-stress livestock handler, Bud Williams, has taught them over the past four years to help reduce the stress and mortality in cattle.

Cattle producers and feedlot personnel need to find ways to provide a more consistent environment for cattle from birth to slaughter.

“Our goal should be to have calves that gain the same amount of weight the day after they are weaned, as they were the day before they were weaned,” Noffsinger explains.

To read the entire article, link here.

Feeder Futures Crumble

Yearlings traded mostly steady at auction last week. Steer calves sold steady to $2 higher, while heifer calves sold unevenly steady. Un-weaned calves continue to be heavily discounted $8-$10.

The lion’s share of last week’s auction trade occurred before the USDA crop report that lowered corn production 4%, pushed corn futures limit-up, and zapped feeder-cattle futures an average of $1.47 across the board (see "Corn Prices Rocket").

By the same token, weather conducive to harvest and wonderments about the availability of winter wheat have kept some buyers out of the market.

For instance, the reporter covering last week’s sale at OKC West in El Reno, OK, noted, “Everyone seems to be waiting to see what the wheat crop is going to do before buying their grazing cattle. The lack of moisture appears to have farmers and feeders watching purchases very closely.”

Though live-cattle futures jumped an average of $2.68 (from the spot month on) Friday, tied to the limit-up move in corn prices, wholesale beef values continue anemic to lower. Fed cattle sold mostly $2 lower last week; as much as $3 lower on a dressed basis.

“Recent declines in wholesale prices are expected to spark interest from buyers on the higher-valued cuts,” says Emmit Rawls, University of Tennessee (UT) livestock economist, in last week’s UT Livestock Comments. “Continued high cow slaughter is keeping the pressure on ground beef prices.”

Tim Petry, North Dakota State University livestock economist, explained in last week’s In the Cattle Markets, “…The volatility in corn (and feeder cattle) prices will likely continue until the size of the corn crop is known for sure… Due to the potential volatility of the market, producers considering backgrounding and winter wheat grazing programs may want to have price risk management strategies in place... Interestingly, the futures market depicts a contra-seasonal rally in feeder cattle prices with the January and March contracts trading $1 to $2 higher than the October and November contracts.”

The summary below reflects the week ended Oct. 8 for Medium and Large 1 – 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb. (calves), and 700- to 750-lb. feeder heifers and steers (unless otherwise noted). The list is arranged in descending order by auction volume and represents sales reported in the weekly USDA National Feeder and Stocker Cattle Summary:

Summary Table
State Volume Steers Heifers
Calf Weight 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs. 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs.
Dakotas 29,900






OK 27,000 $117.04 $111.79 $112.53 $104.36 $104.91 $104.19
MO 22,300 $118.75 $117.84 $115.22 $106.10 $107.27 $109.09
KY* 21,000 $107.03 $104.33 $102.51 $94.71 $93.40 $92.86
TX 21,000 $111.58 $106.98 $104.05 $102.62 $96.07 $93.62
NE 18,700 $127.69 $117.51 $116.58 $116.97 $108.41 $106.98
AL 14,100 $108.43 $102.58 $95.79 $95.59 $91.44 $87.35
AR 11,400 $110.65 $104.50 $101.474 $96.15 $93.13 $94.624
CO 11,400 $117.53 $110.46 $112.08 $108.28 $100.77 $104.59
FL* 8,700 $94-119 $84-101 $98-100 $87-99 $84-88 $82-864
TN* 7,700 $108.17 $101.59 $95.16 $94.95 $89.12 $85.69
GA*** 7,600 $95-111 $89-104 $86-96 $85-102 $80-92 $78-84
MS* 7,500 $95-1051 $90-1013 ** $85-951 $80-903 $80-895
Carolinas* 7,400 $90-114 $87-104.50 $80-92 $80-102 $77-93.50 $74-89
WY 7,300 $123.20 $117.50 $107.42 $113.82 $111.97 $105.77
IA 7,100 $122.25 $115.68 $115.246 $113.79 $109.73 **
KS 5,300 $119.11 $109.96 $108.06 $105.76 $101.66 $105.83
MT 4,400 $124.61 $107.814 $105.32 $114.57 $103.90 $100.45
VA 4,100 $106.28 $100.63 $99.19 $94.63 $92.96 $87.30
NM 3,800 $111.92 $102.39 $97.23 $96.39 $94.34 $89.95
WA 3,400 $117.01 $115.67 $113.57 $108.13 $109.17 $105.68

* Plus #2
** None reported of the same quality at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
(?) As reported, but questionable
NDNo Description
1500-600 lbs.
2550-600 lbs.
3600-700 lbs.
4650-700 lbs.
5700-800 lbs.
6750-800 lbs.
7800-850 lbs.
8850-900 lbs.

Technology Key To Feeding World

By 2030, Planet Earth will have to produce 50% more food than we currently produce in order to feed the projected world population at that time.

That level of food production, which will have to come on less land and with less people farming, is sobering, if not daunting. The assessment didn’t come from anyone in the farming or food business; it came from Ralf Sudoff, head of the United Nations World Food Program.

Speaking at Bayer CropScience’s annual press conference, Frederich Berschauer, outgoing CEO of the company, said technology -- how we adopt it and use it in agriculture, is a critical factor in our ability to meet the future global demand for food.

“In the future, hunger will not only be a question of equitable distribution (as it is today), it will increasingly be the case that there isn’t enough food to distribute,” Friedrich Berschauer says.

To read the entire article, link here.

Nationwide Webinar On GIPSA Rule Is Oct. 14

The National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas will present an Oct. 14 nationwide webinar – free and open to the public – on the proposed GIPSA livestock rules. The 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (CST) webinar will provide an overview of GIPSA's proposed rule changes for poultry and livestock, review the UDSA rule-making process, explain how producers and others can submit comments on the proposed rules. It will also include a question-and-answer session.

The webinar will be hosted via eXtension for participants around the country. More info is available here.

Eliminating Costs is Always Better Than Reducing Costs

It seems we give too much attention to reducing costs and not nearly enough to eliminating costs. If all you ever do is reduce costs, you will have to make adjustments every time prices increase. However, if you eliminate a cost, you will never have to deal with it again. Kicking the hay habit is a good example. If hay is no longer a part of your operation, it's a cost you no longer have to manage. If you just reduce hay feeding from 120 days to 45 days, then it's still a cost that must be managed.

A lot of producers have trimmed their hay feeding way back from what it used to be, but did they sell their equipment? Often not. They still have it and rather than making 500 tons of hay a year, they only make 150 tons. A lot less operating cost, but no reduction in the overhead cost of owning equipment. If the equipment were sold, the overhead cost would be eliminated.

Another downside of keeping the hay equipment is you can easily be tempted to start making hay at the drop of a hat. Got a little extra grass this year? Bale it up. Made some extra hay last year? Let's feed a little longer. Pretty soon you're right back in the same rut - enslaved by the hay paradigm.

To read the entire article, link here.


TIAA Acquires Controlling Interest in Westchester Group, Inc

Acquisition of Premier Agricultural Asset Manager Enhances Offering for Institutional Investors and Extends TIAA's Leadership in Agricultural Investing

NEW YORK – October 4, 2010 – Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) has acquired a controlling interest in Westchester Group, Inc. (Westchester), one of the nation’s premier, independent agricultural asset managers. The transaction enhances TIAA’s agricultural investment platform for institutional investors and extends its leadership in agricultural investing. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“TIAA and Westchester offer a fully integrated agricultural asset management platform that combines a broad global presence with world-class agricultural asset management,” said Scott C. Evans, head of asset management for TIAA-CREF. “Institutional investors will be able to tap TIAA’s expertise and prudent approach to investing and Westchester’s nearly 25 years of experience, on-the-ground presence, local knowledge and attention to quality properties in the U.S. and Australia. We invest in farmland with a long-term view that emphasizes growth through sustainable practices.”

By joining TIAA as a standalone subsidiary, Westchester remains independent and able to exercise its unique expertise and entrepreneurial approach. Randall Pope, Westchester’s president and chief operating officer, will become chief executive officer of the company. Murray Wise, Westchester’s founder and chief executive, will remain a board member and adviser. Westchester’s other investment professionals will continue with the company as well.

“TIAA and Westchester have complementary capabilities and a shared strategic focus on the future of agricultural investing,” said Mr. Pope. “Together, our experience and expertise will enable us to achieve the ownership and investment objectives of institutional clients, as well as attracting new institutional investment capital to the agricultural marketplace.”

TIAA is among the largest institutional investors in agriculture, with investments in more than 400 farms in North America, South America, Australia, and Eastern Europe as part of its General Account. Westchester, which has managed agricultural investments on behalf of TIAA since the inception of TIAA’s agricultural portfolio, manages more than $1 billion in agricultural assets and nearly 320,000 acres throughout the United States and Australia.

“We think the long-term outlook for the agricultural asset class is favorable,” said Jose Minaya, head of TIAA’s Natural Resources Group. “The scale and diversification of our holdings, and now the combined expertise of our company and Westchester will enable us to continue to identify the highest-quality investment opportunities. We also share a long-term view of agricultural investing that emphasizes responsible stewardship of farmland and a risk-managed approach.”

Farmland, with its historically stable returns, differs from other asset types in its market cycles and can potentially reduce volatility relative to a well-diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds and real estate as well as provide a hedge against inflation. TIAA employs a variety of structures in making its farmland investments, with a focus on acquiring equity ownership in the underlying land. The company employs or partners with premier agricultural asset managers to source farmland investment opportunities and then develop and manage the portfolio.

“This transaction shows that companies like Westchester can join TIAA and obtain the benefits of our integrated asset management platform while retaining their independence,” said Sheila Hooda, senior managing director of mergers & acquisitions for TIAA-CREF, who handled the transaction for the company.

Agricultural investments occur within TIAA’s General Account, an insurance company general operating account. The performance of the investments held in the TIAA General Account support the TIAA Traditional Annuity’s guarantees of principal, minimum guaranteed returns, additional amounts and payout obligations. The General Account primarily invests in corporate and government bonds, structured finance instruments, and real estate.

The TIAA General Account is an insurance company account and does not present an investment return, and is not available to investors.


TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $410 billion in combined assets under management (as of 6/30/10) and provides retirement services to the nonprofit and government fields.

About Westchester Group, Inc.

Westchester Group, Inc., (, headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, is a leading agricultural asset management firm, providing a complete range of agricultural real estate and management services. The company specializes in portfolio management and acquisition of farmland for institutional and corporate clients, and individual farmers, as well as individual investors. Westchester manages a diverse range of crops for its clients, including corn, soybeans, almonds, wine grapes, apples and citrus.


Limousin Commercial Marketing Check-off is Reduced

Denver, Colo., (Oct 7, 2010) Limousin and Lim-Flex® bulls prove through ultrasound measurements to be among the best at the recent Cal Poly Bull Test. Representing eight different breeds including Limousin and Lim-Flex®, a total of 86 bulls were evaluated over a four month period. Bulls were evaluated on their average daily gain (ADG), ultrasound measurements, weights and ratios to develop a test index with only those cattle scoring above 100 entering the sale.

Limousin and Lim-Flex® represented 9 of the 86 head that sold through the bull test. Receiving top honors were test ID 227, Lim-Flex®, and test ID 210, Limousin, recorded the first and second highest adjusted ribeye area scores at 15.9 and 15.8 respectively. Test ID 231, Lim-Flex® recorded the second highest adjusted percent intramuscular fat (%IMF) at 5.5.

"The bulls this year performed exceptionally well on a high roughage ration," said Michael Hall, Beef Cattle Specialist, Cal Poly State University. "With our dominant English based cow herd, we are witnessing a move towards crossbreeding. Lim-Flex® cattle proved to be in demand because of their complimentary traits for the English based cow herd."

The high selling Lim-Flex® bull was test ID 231 consigned by Cal Poly State University out of G A R Predestined and sold to Dalidio Farms. The high selling Limousin bull was test ID 206 consigned by Actis Ranch out of ROM'N Justice and sold to Serafin Ranchers.

"As the fall bull selling season gets under way, this test proves that Limousin and Lim-Flex® cattle perform," said Dr. Bob Hough, Executive Vice President, North American Limousin Foundation. "These numbers rivaled and topped even those of the English breeds. The Cal Poly bull test has a strong reputation for producing high quality performance bulls. This proves that Limousin and Lim-Flex® bulls are competing and they are an excellent cross for the commercial herd."

To locate a Limousin breeder or assistance in finding bulls in your area, visit or contact the North American Limousin Foundation at (303) 220-1693.


Pfizer Animal Health Quick Tips

Keep it Simple

Choosing a respiratory vaccine program can be as easy as answering five simple questions.

Getting the most out of a respiratory vaccine comes down to a few simple questions producers should ask themselves, says Gerald Stokka, DVM, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health. Answering these questions can help ensure a herd health program has a strong foundation for the entire year.

1. Are your management practices up to snuff?

While vaccines are the workhorses when it comes to helping prevent disease, healthy herds often begin with good genetics and management practices. Producers should evaluate current management practices to make sure cattle are handled properly, have appropriate nutrition and aren’t overcrowded or unnecessarily stressed.

2. Is your veterinarian involved?

It’s important that a veterinarian is involved in all herd health decisions. Additionally, veterinarians can help producers look for vaccines with high quality control standards and the most science behind them, and ones that are labeled for many types of operations.

3. Does this vaccination program include all of the diseases I should be concerned about?

Common problems, like bovine respiratory disease (BRD), often develop following a combination of stressful events, and the presence of viral and bacterial agents. While management changes may help reduce stress, they may not help prevent diseases that lead to the development of BRD, including infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), parainfluenza type 3 (PI3), bovine virus diarrhea (BVD) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV).1 By using a vaccine that helps protect against all these challenges, such as Bovi-Shield GOLD®, producers can help protect cattle more thoroughly.

4. Can I trust this vaccine program to prevent disease?

To get the most out of a vaccine program, a vaccine should be labeled for use in pregnant cattle and suckling calves* and should be handled properly. Additionally, not all vaccines can promise to prevent disease. However, Bovi-Shield GOLD® 5 is the first and only respiratory vaccine to have a prevention of IBR claim — the highest level of IBR respiratory protection available. What’s more, Bovi-Shield GOLD 5 is labeled to aid in the prevention of BVD Types 1 and 2, parainfluenza type 3 (PI3) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) respiratory diseases.

5. What is the duration of immunity?

Producers should look for vaccines that can offer a suitable duration of immunity, like Bovi-Shield GOLD 5, which prevents respiratory disease caused by IBR for at least 280 days, and aids in the prevention of BVD Types 1 and 2 respiratory disease for at least 279 days and 280 days, respectively, when administered using a subcutaneous injection. That’s long enough to help protect cattle from branding to weaning, and while backgrounding and feeding.

*LABEL INDICATIONS: The Bovi-Shield GOLD line and PregGuard® GOLD FP® 10 are recommended for vaccination of healthy cows and heifers approximately one month prior to breeding. These products also can be administered for pregnant cattle provided they were vaccinated, according to label directions, with any Bovi-Shield GOLD FP or PregGuard GOLD FP vaccine prior to breeding initially and within 12 months thereafter. Failure to follow label directions may result in abortions. The Bovi-Shield GOLD line may be administered to calves nursing pregnant cows, provided their dams were vaccinated within the last 12 months as described above. Consistent with good vaccination practices, heifers should receive at least two vaccine doses, with the second administered approximately 30 days prebreeding.