Beef Magazine is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cattle on feed up 1% in November


USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report, which was published on Nov. 20, indicates that cattle on feed as of Nov. 1 is higher than one year ago.

According to the report, “Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on Nov. 1, 2020.

“The inventory was 1% above Nov. 1, 2019. This is the highest Nov. 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. Placements in feedlots during October totaled 2.19 million head, 11% below 2019.

“Net placements were 2.13 million head. During October, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 lbs. were 570,000 head, 600-699 lbs. were 495,000 head, 700-799 lbs. were 465,000 head, 800-899 lbs. were 387,000 head, 900-999 lbs. were 185,000 head, and 1,000 lbs. and greater were 90,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during October totaled 1.87 million head, slightly below 2019. Other disappearance totaled 63,000 head during October, 7% above 2019.”

Read the entire report here.

Michael Nepveux, American Farm Bureau Federation economist, offers an analysis. He writes, “While total inventories are an important component of the report, other key factors include placements (new animals being placed on feed) and marketings (animals being taken off feed and sold for slaughter). Coming in at 11% under 2019, placements in October fell below the average analyst expectation of an 8.9% decrease.

“The placement number was at the lower end of the range of expectations, coming in slightly above the minimum forecast of a 12.7% decrease. The relatively wide range of forecasts for placements – approximately 8% -- highlights the uncertainty that can exist in forecasting this specific variable, with normal indicators such as feeder cattle imports from Mexico and auction volumes sending mixed signals. A large driver of this pullback in placements is the fact that October 2019 placements were the highest in nearly a decade.

“Placements have been running ahead of year-ago levels since they recovered after declines in April and May at the height of the pandemic. In October, historically the peak month for placements, placements clocked in at 2.192 million head, bucking normal trends and coming in below September’s placements of 2.227 million head. Marketings came in at 0.1% below last year.

“This is slightly below analysts’ expectations of 0.2% above year-ago levels, but well within the expected range and not a surprise. The 1.873 million head that were marketed in October is roughly even with 2019 levels even though October 2020 had one less slaughter day for the month.

“This November Cattle on Feed report is considered relatively neutral to bullish. While an 11% decline in placements is bullish for future supplies of fed cattle, this was widely expected by the industry.  The overall supply of cattle on feed is up moderately over 2019, and the number of animals marketed throughout October is even with a year ago.

“Looking forward, the big question mark on future reports is the level of resurgence in COVID-19 cases throughout the winter. The packing industry should have gotten better at managing this challenge after the crash course in the spring, but whether or not plants have to be closed is still a risk, albeit hopefully a lower one.”

Read his full analysis here.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

Scott gets nod for House Ag Committee chairmanship

House Agriculture Committee Flickr DavidScottHouseAg.jpg

The House Democratic Steering Committee selected Rep. David Scott of Georgia over Rep. Jim Costa of California on a 32-19 vote as its nominee for House Agriculture Committee chairman for 2021. The Democratic caucus will vote on the recommendation Thursday for Scott to replace long-time agricultural Democratic leader Rep. Collin Peterson, Minnesota, who did not get re-elected in this fall’s election.

Scott ranks highest in seniority on the House Ag Committee and has served as an active member of the Committee since first being elected to the House in 2002. Scott previously served as the subcommittee chair of the Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit subcommittee. He will be the first representative from Georgia, and the first Black person to serve as committee chair.

Scott was born on a farm in rural South Carolina during segregation. After his parents moved north to find work, Scott said he spent his childhood years living and working on his grandparents’ farm. “The core lessons I brought from these experiences still resonate throughout farming communities today, and I have drawn upon them as I have fought to support the needs of rural and urban America,” Scott said in announcing his intent to run for the chairmanship.

Scott said he has fought to elevate the needs of vulnerable communities and ensure a stable and skilled workforce as well as strengthen the agriculture industry for future generations.

"However, the work of our Agriculture Committee in many ways reflects the most basic needs of our nation--food, nutrition, and financial resources--but also mirrors the greater movements of our time. And, amid a global pandemic, many fault lines already present in rural America have deepened,” Scott said. 

Scott noted even during years of growth, rural economies have lagged behind urban development, and the only pathway to prosperity for many of our young people drew them to seek opportunities beyond the borders of their rural towns. “And now, the heavy weight of the virus has fallen on these struggling communities, as access to reliable broadband, education, childcare and medicine are just out of reach,” he said. “Rebuilding our economy must be inclusive and equitable, incorporating job growth and revitalization to strengthen our nation as a whole.”

Scott stated, “The threat of climate change is a present and growing danger, and we must promote sustainable agriculture solutions that are economically viable, ecologically just, and support the social fabric of our rural communities.”

He also said transitioning away from fossil fuels toward ethanol and biofuels can create jobs and foster economic opportunities in our rural communities. And as trade wars and the global pandemic have fractured our supply chains, small and mid-size farmers can partner with local organizations to open new markets and provide fresh produce at fair prices, he added.

“The challenges before us go beyond simply fixing the mistakes of past administrations,” Scott said. “Each hearing, markup, and legislative action must take a step forward toward building a more equitable, dynamic, and resilient agriculture industry that lays forth a new path for future generations.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO Collin Woodall welcomed the nomination and called Scott a “devoted friend of America’s cattle producers.” Woodall added, “His leadership and expertise on cattle issues demonstrates his commitment to helping producer succeed. He is a consummate leader and an ideal choice to lead the committee.”  

Farm Progress America, December 2, 2020

Max Armstrong looks at insight from the University of Nebraska concerning an important farm inventory to conduct before year end. This inventory is a look at a farm's financial health. In addition, a farm should write a marketing plan that can help make selling easier. Max offers more insight on this management approach as 2020 wraps up.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Willie Vogt

It’s time to dial in on cow costs


In the cattle business, producers work in breakeven points. It’s critical to understand your inputs, anticipate fluctuates in prices and plan accordingly to take advantage of good times and weather through the challenging seasons.

Do you know what the average operating cost is per cow in the United States?

It’s $863.

That’s according to Olivia Amundson, South Dakota State University Extension cow-calf field specialist, who recently tackle the topic of how to best capitalize on cow costs to meet your business goals.

Amundson says of that $863 annual operating cost, 70% of it is related to direct costs to run the cow including summer feed, winter pasture, veterinary care, medicine, etc.

She adds, that the average income per cow based off calf price and cull cow price is $798 per cow, for an economic loss of $65 per cow when considering all costs.

How do you fare compared to the average? Ponder that question as you read through some of Amundson’s best tips for strategically decreasing cow costs.

In part one of a two-part series, she focuses on reducing the largest expense of the cow — her annual feed costs.

She says variable feeds include: “Pasture production, hay production, purchased hay per cow, bull (pasture and hay), supplemental feed, salt and mineral, vet and med, reproduction (AI), labor, interest, marketing, land rent and any other miscellaneous expenses.”

Meanwhile, fix costs include: “Livestock facilities, equipment upkeep, pasture, hay machinery/equipment, purchased breeding stock, purchased heifers (not bred), and miscellaneous overhead. Fixed costs in general will be HIGHLY variable between operations.”

So how do you make the most of the cow?

Amundson shares tips for reducing feed costs by grazing corn residue and cover crops; decreasing waste through improved hay storage and feeding; limit-feeding cows; and improving genetic efficiencies.

You can read part one of the series by clicking here.

In part two of the series, Amundson dials in on other variables that can be costly for ranching operations. These variables include calf death rates, cow carrying capacity, cow depreciation, replacement heifer costs and cull cows and bulls.

I’ll share a brief excerpt from this article and direct you to read the rest of the piece by clicking here.

Amundson writes, “Producers should pay close attention to calf death loss. Calf death loss plays a large roll since more live calves on the ground result in greater gross income. Average national calf loss of calves born dead or calves died before weaning is 6.5 - 7%. Of the 6.5 - 7% of calves, 44.6% of these calves were born dead. The remaining calves that were lost were within 24 hours following birth, more than 24 hours but less than 3 weeks, and prior to weaning.”

She suggests focusing on cow nutrition at birth, environment, morning calving dates, providing shelter, vaccinating calves and tightening the calving window to reduce calf death loss.

Finally, as we enter the final month of 2020, now is a great time to evaluate your expenses over the last 11 months, discuss options with your tax planner or accountant before the end of the year and making adjustments to the operation as needed before the close of the year and to kick off the incoming year.

A lot may change for beef producers in the next four years, depending on how things shake loose in the political arena, but in the meantime, if we can focus on what we can control back at home on the ranch, we’ll all be in better shape no matter what policies or changes come our way in 2021.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

6 Trending Headlines: Tips for winter herd management

Winter cold brings its own set of considerations. Check out this week’s Trending Headlines for tips to ensure a good calving season next spring.

Book cottonseed early if feeding cattle

AndrewLinscott/Getty Images Plus cottonseed-feed-478770216.jpg

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s October cotton and wool outlook report, cotton production is estimated at 17.0 million bales, a 14% decrease from last year. Whole cottonseed supply for feed is estimated to be roughly 600,000 tons less than last season. 

“This year, producers will have 3.3 million tons of whole cottonseed available to incorporate in their feed,” explains Tom Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed research, Cotton Incorporated. “Although less than last year, whole cottonseed is an excellent feed ingredient to meet the nutritional demands of lactating cows and has the potential to reduce the overall number of feedstuffs in a ration.”  

U.S. upland cotton production is forecasted to be down in each region of the Cotton Belt compared to the previous season. The majority of the whole cottonseed supply goes to dairy rations but beef producers have opportunities to use the feed ingredient on their operations, taking advantage of its effective fiber, available fat and protein.

“There is more late-season uncertainty this year for cotton quality and supply compared to last season,” notes John R.C. Robinson, Texas A&M University professor and Extension specialist economist. “Weather can play a major role in crop quality and the Cotton Belt has experienced variability with tropical storms in the eastern region and dry conditions in the west. Time will tell what impacts these conditions will have on final numbers and quality.”

As harvest wraps up, producers should make a plan for their feed ingredients and keep an eye on the market. Wedegaertner recommends producers book their cottonseed needs early, working with reputable merchants and suppliers. 

“Cottonseed prices are following other commodity proteins that continue to strengthen,” Wedegaertner adds. “With indications that prices can continue to rise in addition to a smaller crop, now is a good time for producers to check in with their merchants to guarantee cottonseed in their upcoming rations.”

Cotton Incorporated suggests producers get in touch with their cottonseed merchant or feed dealer to check prices or submit a request for cottonseed quotes through its Cottonseed Marketplace

Cottonseed is an excellent source of fiber, protein and energy for both dairy and beef cattle. Typical dairy rations can include up to 15% cottonseed on a dry matter basis. Additionally, whole cottonseed can be economically beneficial in feedlots, reducing the need for traditional roughages and additional protein and fat supplementation. For more information, including reports on market conditions, feeding information and a list of suppliers, visit


Source: Cotton Incorporated

The source is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


Farm Progress America, December 1, 2020

Max Armstrong shares that the pendulum in the discussion of Water of the United States may be swinging back to what was put in place 2014. Max shares that the phrase "significant nexus" which involves waters that connect to a navigable water could be classified as Waters of the United States and regulated by the federal government. A move to clarify significant nexus created challenges across the country.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.