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Fed Cattle Recap | Cash down, Choice spread record high

Fed cattle recap

The week of May 20 was a study in contrasts for the fed cattle market. On one hand, the cash trade ended the week $3 to $5 per cwt lower. It is the second week in a row with lower cash prices; last week ended $6 to $8 lower compared with the previous week.

Then, on the other hand, the Choice-Select spread reached for the stars, ending the week at an astounding $25.75, about $3.50 higher than the previous week and significantly higher than the $17.54 recorded last year. What's more, the spread topped out at $26.24 on May 17, setting a new record high by besting the previous record of $25.57 set June 13, 2016.

Click on the red arrow below for the complete audio report.

The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region, which includes the major feeding areas of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, was $134.26, compared with $137.28 the previous week, for a drop back of $3.02. 

The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price for was $212.62, compared with $220.33 the previous week, about $7.71 lower.

Estimated total federally-inspected cattle harvest was 602,000 head, compared with 590,000 the same week last year, only 12,000 head over last year. Total year-to-date harvest is 631,000 head over last year 

The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 74,925 head, compared with about 79,512 the previous week. 

The Five Area average formula price was $228.18, compared with $224.62 the previous week, a $3.56 jump. Part of that increase is due to the widening spread between Choice and Select which pays more money to the Choice cattle. Five area formula sales totaled 165,947 head, compared with about 161,712 the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvest was about 48,000 head, compared with 72,000 head the previous week. Packers have more than 244,000 head of forward contracts available for May and 294,000 for June.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending May 6 was 15 pounds lower at 832 pounds, compared with 862 pounds last year.                               


Our nation's infrastructure, that many of us are concerned about, is getting better in some areas. Missouri recently replaced 800 bridges. There was that bridge collapse in Minnesota 10 years ago. 13 people died there. It was a design flaw there. Four in 10 of our bridges are at least 50 years old.

Corn planting right on par with five-year progress. It doesn't address replanting.

Young people still account for most victims in ATV accidents.

Gunfire in Cincinnati near bank with weapon. Customer was also packing heat. Customer wasn't hurt, robber may have been.

Farm Progress America, May 23, 2017

Max Armstrong looks at the National Restaurant Show and their forward-looking view of the next-generation consumer. This new generation - called Generation Z - is information-linked and they're looking for a range of features that the restaurant industry must meet. Max offers some insight into what this new generation will mean for dining out in the future.

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.

VOTE: For love of land & livestock photo finalists

Josh Stewart Perfect Fall Day

Editor's Note: We've noticed there may be a glitch in the voting system, and we're working to get this resolved as quick as we can. Please, continue to check back for updates on voting. Thanks for your patience. - Amanda Radke

This month, we’ve been focusing on capturing the joy and passion of our nation’s cattlemen.

Whether it’s a dedication to improving the land through environmental stewardship practices or the drive to expand the herd or invest in better genetics, there’s so much to build upon in this cattle business, and it’s something that people spend entire lifetimes working on.

The “For the love of land & livestock” photo contest launched in early May, we’ve compiled a gallery of entries submitted by BEEF readers.

Check out the images here.

From these images, we narrowed it down to our top finalists, which can be viewed here.

Now we need your help to choose our two champions. Voting will be open from now until May 30. To vote, simply click on the link below and select your favorite image. You can vote daily to increase the odds for your top pick, and two photographers who receive the most votes will receive a copy of “Courageous Cattlemen.”

Written by the late Robert C. de Baca, the book profiles many of the early industry leaders in the genetic improvement movement.

Himself one of those early pioneers, de Baca was a well-known professor at Iowa State University, as well as owner of Mid-Iowa Cattle Co. and publisher of the Ideal Beef Memo, an early publication that encouraged the use of genetic selection and improvement.


Thanks for your participation in this contest. It was fun seeing so many wonderful images of your family, your ranch and your land.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.

For the love of land & livestock photo finalists

 We've narrowed down the entries in our "For the love of land & livestock" photo contest. Now we need your help choosing the top images. To vote, click on your favorite image below. Voting is open from now until noon on May 30, and you can vote daily to increase the odds in your favorite photographer's favor. The link to vote is also available at the end of the slideshow if you aren't able to access it here. Thanks for your participation!


Six years ago this afternoon at just after 5:30 the costliest tornado in American history slammed into Joplin, Mo. More than 1,150 people were injured that Sunday afternoon in Joplin.

A documentary released today shows the healing power of the butterfly garden in Joplin.

For many of the farmers in our region, the rains have made life miserable this spring. Area hit hardest runs from southeast Kansas into southern and central Indiana. Posted map at Max's Twitter account, follow him if you wish.

It will be five weeks yet before federal government comes out with report saying what was planted.

Wheat appears to have better support in market because of recent news. Heading toward one of three long weekends of summer, this one has least impact on markets.

Louisville, Kentucky, doesn't know what is about to hit them. Weiner dog show there this weekend.

5 Trending Headlines: Ever seen a 6-legged calf? PLUS; 9 important minerals

Rancher surprised by calf born with six legs

It just goes to show what can happen if you leave for a few hours. “I’ve been ranching my whole life, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Gerald Skalsky as he watched the calf’s bald-faced mother come to lick its baby on the nose, reports the Twin Cities Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn.

Skalsky was at an auction sale when his wife called about an unusual calf born on the couple’s ranch near Beulah, N.D. “You’re just going to have to see it for yourself,” she told him.

Skalsky came home to find the calf, seemingly healthy, but with an extra set of hind legs hanging off the side of its neck.

Click here to read more.

Ibotta mobile app campaign moves the beef

Nationwide sales of fresh beef at retail got a boost earlier this year as a result of a beef industry partnership with the mobile rebates app, Ibotta ( I bought a…). The partnership also significantly increased consumer engagements with beef through videos, recipes and messages on the app, Feedstuffs reports.

Ibotta is a consumer mobile app that has a subscriber rate of 22 million mostly Millennial consumers and growing. In the campaign, consumers who downloaded the app could browse the grocery category for small rebates on fresh ground beef products, unlock the rebates and, after reviewing educational information about beef through a short recipe, message or video, get cash back on the beef items they bought at any grocery store nationwide.

Results from the ground beef Ibotta campaign, which was managed by NCBA, a beef checkoff contractor, significantly surpassed standard Ibotta campaigns. The redemption rate for ground beef was nearly 40%--almost double the average Ibotta redemption rate of 23%. There were about 1.45 million consumer engagements, with beef rebates unlocked after consumers got the videos, recipes and messages. Of those, more than 576,000 consumers redeemed the rebates. The four-week campaign resulted in more than 631,000 pounds of ground beef sold.

Click here to read more.


How do Holstein and beef breed cutouts compare?

Finished Holstein beef accounts for nearly 15% of the overall beef supply, yet the price of fed Holstein steers has plummeted sharply in the past few months. However, beef from finished Holstein finished steers has many desirable characteristics and provides a consistent product, reports Michigan State University.

Genetic similarity among Holsteins contributes greatly to the consistency of the quality of beef provided by Holsteins. Additionally, great improvements have been made in the past several decades of managing and feeding Holstein steers, resulting in improved efficiencies and a high percentage grading Choice. Several research studies have shown that the taste and tenderness of Holstein beef is at least equal to beef from Angus steers.

However, Holsteins don’t yield as well as beef steers. Researchers from Cornell University found Holstein steers had 5.28% less meat yield compared to small-frame Angus steers at the same shrunk weight.

Click here to read more.

9 minerals that make a difference

It's often what you can't see that makes the biggest difference. Minerals, for example, affect a lot of what's going on inside a cow. While the cost of a good program can be pennies a day, it's only money well spent if it meets the needs of the herd.

Those needs can vary by time of year and herd condition, making it important to work with a herd veterinarian to develop the most cost-effective program. In addition, remember some mineral formulations now require a veterinary feed directive (VFD) for purchase, including those containing chlortetracycline (CTC), according to Progressive Farmer.

Minerals for cattle are classified as "macrominerals" or "microminerals." Altogether, there are 16 key minerals, but keep the focus on these nine.

Click here to read more.

BQA award nomination deadline approaching

Nominations for the 2018 national Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards are due by June 2, 2017. The beef checkoff-funded program, now in its 12th year, recognizes five winners in the areas of beef and dairy beef production, marketing and education.

Nominations for the national BQA Awards are submitted by organizations, groups, or individuals on behalf of a U.S. beef producer, dairy beef producer, marketer or educator. Individuals and families may not nominate themselves, although nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. Applications from past nominees are encouraged.

For the application and nomination requirements, go to


The shakeup at the top of Ford Motor Company is in the news this morning. CEO is out. 

On his Twitter account shared Weather Service map that shows how much rain Midwest has received.

Illinois Farm Bureau is on record against toll railroad. The Great Lakes Basin railroad will have a 260 mile run as it avoids congestion at Chicago by laying new track, which would bisect farms on its run.

How many people got up and walked out of Pence speech at Notre Dame? Did any reporter take time to count how many walked out?

Farm Progress America, May 22, 2017

Max Armstrong offers a look at a last-minute push to add labels to hot dogs and other processed meats with a warning about consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer. Max shares insight from a former USDA official on the issue.

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.

Retaining new hires Part II — create a professional environment

Daisy-Daisy-iStock-Thinkstock Young vet in pasture
Bring a young vet along with adequate supervision, but without hovering over them.

(In part one of this series, we discussed hiring a new associate for a beef practice, utilizing the report from Murray Jelinski entitled “Factors associated with veterinarians’ career path choices in the early postgraduate period” from the Canadian Veterinary Journal. In this column, we will look at ways to retain this associate, focusing on the first few months of employment.)

You’ve worked hard to hire an associate. Now, creating a positive work environment is critical to keeping him or her.

This starts with mentorship. The Jelinski study identified mentorship (or the lack of) as the number two reason for continued presence in the practice. But what constitutes good mentorship? Where is that balance between tossing the new hire into the practice waters to sink or swim versus hovering over them like a mosquito on an exposed ear?

While there is no one size fits all answer, there are a few rules of thumb that can help. For starters, you should have an idea of what your new hire did for work that day. For example, you might know he or she pregged cows in the morning, and then saw small animals all afternoon. This means you kept tabs on the associate, giving him or her the opportunity to ask questions. But if you know the percent open on the cows and that your associate saw three allergy dogs and a blocked cat, you’re probably hovering too much.

Praise pays

For the first few weeks or so, at the end of the work day take five minutes to ask them about the day. Praise them for something they did well, and offer advice on how to improve. The praise isn’t simply a tactic to coddle sensitive millennials; if you give someone a pat on the back for a job well done they will make sure they do it that way every time.

Last point on mentorship is when things go poorly or the associate makes a mistake, explain the correct way of handling the case without disparaging his or her intelligence or alma mater. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents to the Jelinski study reported their employer was unsupportive when a case went badly. Obviously incorrect medicine must be addressed, but this can be done without insults. In addition, unless it is an emergency situation, it is best to do this correcting in private.

Heavy workload

The number one reason associates left a practice in the study was workload related. Too many hours worked in a day and/or too many afterhours calls lead associates to seek employment elsewhere, often outside of mixed animal practice. While this is intrinsic to beef practice, it can be partial alleviated by acclimating your new associate to practice the way you’d acclimate cattle to a feedyard. If they are a new grad, just weaned off the veterinary college, start them off slow on a diet of dog vaccinations and small chute jobs. Give them a little time before starting them on afterhours work. If they have been backgrounded at another vet clinic, you can bring them up to speed more quickly.

While as the boss you have the most influence over your associate, don’t forget to keep your staff on board with this acclimation process. Other associates or support staff can be a source of encouragement to your new hire, or can create friction. They will play as much of a role as you in mentoring your new hire. More experienced associates will often act as mentors to new graduates, therefore make sure they abide by the same guidelines on mentorship outline above.

Life issues

While creating a positive work environment for a new hire is essential, the job you offer is not the only factor in associate retention; life outside of work is of equal importance. With the aging rural population, assuming you hire a younger person as an associate he or she will most likely deal with loneliness if your town is not where they grew up. This issue typically does not manifest itself until a few months into practice.

If you’ve done your work in the interview and know a few of your associate’s hobbies, offer pointers on where he or she can engage in those hobbies in your community. If this person decided to be in beef practice, they most likely will enjoy the type of activities found in rural areas, such as church groups, community organizations, hunting or fishing, etc. Since good associates are self-starters, providing the contact information for a person in those activities is enough. Think of it this way—an associate that has a good mentor, with a job that makes room for their most important life priorities, in a community that provides one of their favorite hobbies will be hard pressed to leave.

Obviously you can never have a 100% success rate in retaining your new hires, but laying the groundwork to make them successful increases your average. Put the same effort into starting them as you did hiring them, and you won’t have to go through the process nearly as often.