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Articles from 2015 In September


Wonderments about expansion in the current market

Wonderments about expansion in the current market

By historical standards, data from the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) suggests 2015 will be a banner year for cow-calf producers in terms of economics. That’s even considering the recent hard break in cash and futures prices, with the fall run of calves barely begun, says Glynn Tonsor, agricultural economist at Kansas State University (KSU).

Tonsor shared LMIC data at last week’s KSU Beef Stocker Field Day. Before the recent price break, that data suggested net cash returns, not counting labor costs, of $450 per cow. Adjusting for the last couple of weeks, and minus any other major market corrections, Tonsor said you could shave $100-$150 from the expectation. At $300 per head, for example, net returns would still be about twice the level of historical highs.

My personal abacus is missing too many beads to dispute that. Though running below prices of a year ago, calf and feeder prices still remain historically high, feed costs remain lower than when corn production seemed akin to printing money, and until recently, domestic beef demand was stronger than many anticipated.

On the other hand, there are already reports of bred heifers and older bred cows heading to auction, as prices continue to erode for calves, feeders, fed cattle and wholesale beef. By all reports, a slug of heifers were retained, developed and bred to market this fall. So far, prices for these replacements follow expectations at reputation sales. Prospects for the run-of-the-herd variety, however, appear a little more dicey.

The much-discussed backlog of heavyweight fed cattle—credited with so much of the current economic pressure—will finally make their way through the packinghouse. That appears to be a ways off, though.

“Packers are buying fed cattle, at heavily reduced prices compared to just a few weeks ago, but are also scheduling those cattle for delivery three to four weeks out (according to industry reports),” say LMIC analysts.

Reports from some feedlots corroborate that notion, suggesting the longest-fed, most overdone cattle are the packer-owned ones.

Choice boxed beef prices were $252.29 per cwt July 1. They dropped to a low of about $233 the first part of August and opened September at $241.21. They were $209.31 Sept. 29. Select followed a similar trajectory—$249.26 July 1 and $207.69 at the end of September.

By all accounts, even with the free fall in wholesale prices, packer margins are in the black. Short term, there seems little incentive for them to accelerate production. And that’s with 50% lean trim prices 65% less than a year ago and hide and offal values down 27% year to year.

Longer term, you get to wondering if enough packing capacity has been shuttered the last few years that it now aligns more closely with the current, smaller inventory.

It’s the feedlots that are drowning in red ink, at least on a cash-to-cash basis.

Based on a 12-month rolling average of projected net returns for Kansas feedlots, Tonsor projects steers marketed in February to lose $211 per head (cash to cash). With the same measuring stick, the previous worst was $193 per head loss in July of 2013.

Heading into the fourth quarter, LMIC forecasts cash prices for steers weighing 700-800 pounds at $193-$201 per cwt, according to Tonsor. Prices for steer calves weighing 500-600 pounds were forecast at $239-$249. With last week’s price break, Tonsor suggested peeling off $10-$15 per cwt.

For perspective, steers weighing 700-800 pounds averaged $197.64 per cwt. in the North Central region last week, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS); $190.38 in the South Central. Steers weighing 500-600 pounds averaged $208.99 in the South Central region and $193.91 in the Southeast.

The biologic cow cycle is too long for knee-jerk reactions to a market that could gain a bounce as the fall progresses—wheat pasture prospects are reported to be positive.

Understandably, some producers who can, are delaying marketing. Some of those are pushing the pencil to gauge the risk and potential reward of backgrounding through the current marketing season.

Overall, though, you could be forgiven for wondering if sheer economics are going to cap current herd expansion sooner rather than later.

 

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2015 BEEF Stocker Award Winner: Shovel Dot Ranch

Book on cattle lameness now available from Zinpro

Cattle lameness is an issue that producers must work to continually stay on top of. That’s because, when your animals come up lame, it’s a long and difficult road to bring them back to health.

 Zinpro Corporation continues its long contribution to cattle lameness prevention and management efforts with the publication of the new book titled Cattle Lameness: Identification, Prevention and Control of Claw Lesions. This highly visual, field-ready guide is designed to help assess and prevent lameness in dairy and beef cattle.

“There are a number of very good textbooks on the market today, but they are just texts,” said Dana Tomlinson, Ph.D., research nutritionist, Zinpro Corporation. “Our objective with this book was to give the producer or nutritionist an understandable manual that they can take to the field and quickly apply that knowledge in identifying lesions that are most prevalent in dairy and beef cattle.”

The Cattle Lameness book features in-depth information on causes of lameness, the anatomy of the foot, claw lesions and diseases, nutrition, and hoof and claw care. It was developed by the Zinpro International Bovine Lameness Committee, which is comprised of a global team of well-known industry experts that includes Ph.D.-level nutritionists, veterinarians and academicians.

Lameness can be difficult to diagnose and even harder to prevent, yet the ramification of unchecked lameness in a herd can be devastating. The good news is that research about lameness and lesions has never been more comprehensive.

“The way the Cattle Lameness book was laid out allows readers to easily pick up the information that’s most pertinent to their level of interest,” said Connie Larson, Ph.D., Research and Nutritional Services ruminant manager – North America, Zinpro Corporation. “This book is a reference guide for everyone involved in the industry, from producers to nutritionists to veterinarians.”

The Cattle Lameness book is available for sale in printed format on Amazon and the ebook is available for sale through Google Play and the App Store. To learn more about the efforts from Zinpro Corporation to prevent cattle lameness, visit the Dairy Lameness and Beef Lameness pages on www.zinpro.com. For more information about the Cattle Lameness book, visit the Cattle Lameness book page on www.zinpro.com or contact your local Zinpro representative.

 

Material on BEEF Briefing Room comes directly from company news releases. Source: Zinpro

Certified Hereford Beef enjoys record year

As more and more consumers learn to rely on the consistency and promise of brand-name beef products, it’s a category that enjoys continued growth. Just ask the folks at Certified Hereford Beef.

Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) LLC experienced a record year of growth during fiscal year 2015 with 51.2 million pounds of product sold — a 2% increase compared with the previous year’s total. Since 2008, CHB LLC has increased beef sales by 46%.

Celebrating its 20th year as a brand, the CHB program continues to expand its market share and meet the needs of its customers.

CHB LLC staff, along with the program’s marketing partners, tout the advantages of CHB product in marketing differentiation when compared to other brands, along with the fact that it is a consistently tender, juicy and flavorful beef product. These advantages are fueling the brand’s advance in both food service and retail markets.

Foodservice continues to provide the most growth opportunity for CHB LLC. As consumers continue to prepare fewer meals at home, CHB LLC staff has worked hard to supply a high-quality source of beef to restaurateurs and chefs through distributors around the country. 

CHB LLC’s foodservice division experienced a 2 million pounds growth during FY 2015. The following new distributors contributed to this increase: Cash Wa Distribution, Kearney, Neb.; Sysco Virginia, Harrisonburg, Va.; Crystal Creek Cattle Co., Ft Worth, Texas; Golden Gate Meats, Sacramento, Calif.; and Sysco North Dakota, Fargo, N.D.

The program also experienced growth in its export sales to the Caribbean, Central and South America markets. A new opportunity explored, implemented and becoming an asset to the program this fiscal year was CHB value-added products.

“Adding value to CHB primal cuts is proving to be a great asset to CHB’s bottom line for retail and foodservice,” explains Mick Welch, CHB LLC vice president of sales. “As our distributors explore what their customer base is seeking for home or dinning out, CHB LLC staff is paying attention. Our customer base knows their businesses, and as their partner we want to respond to their needs and offer CHB value-added products that meets those needs.”

The retail and foodservice divisions continue to build brand recognition through programs like the National Grocery Association (NGA) tradeshow and radio marketing opportunities.

As the demand for CHB continues to grow, the supply of high-quality cattle must also continue to increase. CHB LLC staff, along with CHB packing partners, are continually working to not only increase the supply, but also increase carcass utilization. 

In a cattle market that is offering record low cattle numbers, CHB LLC continues to find ways to utilize as much of each carcass as possible to meet the demand for CHB. This past year was a great example of doing just that. A total of 336,147 cattle were identified through CHB-licensed packing facilities during FY 2015 as eligible from a live specification standpoint, while more than 235,650 carcasses were certified for the program — a certification rate of 70% for FY 2015.

“Although CHB cattle numbers were down, by increasing carcass utilization, the tonnage sold ended up higher than ever before,” explains Trey Befort, CHB LLC director of commercial programs. “Supply for Certified Hereford Beef moving forward looks very positive. As the Hereford breed continues to gain market share and more commercial cattlemen are using Hereford genetics, the supply for CHB will continue to grow.”

Since the beginning of CHB LLC 20 years ago, more than 5.3 million cattle have been identified, and more than 3.4 million carcasses certified to carry the CHB name at licensed packing partners.  Continued growth of cattle numbers and CHB tonnage sold is expected moving forward as well as growth in the value of Hereford-influenced cattle.

“Our consumers have found the CHB-brand product meets their demand for a consistent, quality dining experience with a great value,” says David Trowbridge, CHB LLC board president. “Our producers, staff and packer partners work as a team to provide the highest quality product and continue to build the CHB brand. Our legendary story and high-quality product value will continue to provide our CHB team with unlimited potential to provide the pull-thru demand for Hereford genetics.”

 

Material on BEEF Briefing Room comes directly from company news releases. Source: American Hereford Association

Eliminate silage deaths, injuries

It’s well known that ranching and farming is one of the most potentially dangerous occupations in the country. But where those dangers lie can be surprising.

Take silage, for example. Silage pits and bunkers have the potential to produce dangerous working conditions if not managed properly.

To help that situation, Lallemand Animal Nutrition challenges livestock producers to eliminate deaths and injuries that occur near silage bunkers or piles. To help producers meet this goal, the company is providing free silage safety resources.

“Too often, those of us that work around silage bunkers or piles feel complacent. We assume our silage operation will always be safe,” says Bob Charley, Ph.D., Forage Products Manager, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “That’s the critical moment when we stop paying attention to our surroundings and are at the most risk for serious hazards like avalanches or cave-offs. It’s an unfortunate reality that on-farm deaths regularly occur near silage bunkers or piles. Yet, with the right resources, potential dangers can be understood and avoided.”

One valuable resource is offered by the company for free: the Silage Safety Handbook, which  includes practical tips for safely building, managing and feeding out silage. This edition is updated to include the latest industry information and is authored by leading silage safety experts Keith Bolsen, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Kansas State University, and Ruthie Bolsen, Customer and Technical Support with Bruno Rimini Corp.

Producers can request free copies of the handbook at http://qualitysilage.com/register/. In addition, other resources are available upon request, such as:

  •          A quick-reference poster to keep the key principles of silage safety top of mind.
  •          Safety vests to wear when working by silage bunkers or piles, which helps co-workers easily identify each other.
  •          Warning signs to post by silage bunker silos, piles and pits to ensure visitors don’t drive, park or walk near the feedout face.

In addition, a Lallemand Animal Nutrition representative can present a brief video as a refresher on the importance of safety practices.  To request these resources, contact your Lallemand Animal Nutrition representative.

Awareness of potential dangers is the first step to reducing the number of injuries or deaths around silage bunkers or piles. Sharing safety best practices is one way livestock producers can work to reduce risks on every farm, and Lallemand has worked with the most knowledgeable people in the industry to do just that, Dr. Charley says.

“I’m happy to work with Lallemand Animal Nutrition to help keep safety top-of-mind for every producer,” Dr. Bolsen says. “The biggest problem in bunker and pile management today is safety. If we’re not safe, then nothing else matters. It’s not about shrink loss, feed conversion or cost of gain. Our No. 1 job is to send everyone home to their family safe, every day.”

Lallemand Animal Nutrition is committed to optimizing animal performance and well-being with specific natural microbial product and service solutions. Lallemand Forward encompasses the specifically chosen service solutions that enhance people, knowledge and production practices. Knowledge development and training are key factors in improving production practices. Lallemand is moving Forward with educational programs such as this to help support animal agriculture.

“People are the greatest resource on any operation, and the safety of farm employees and visitors is everyone’s greatest priority. We hope livestock producers will accept our safety challenge,” Dr. Charley says. “We’ve developed these resources to ensure knowledge is paid Forward and help our customers improve their safety practices. These resources truly exemplify how Lallemand uses our company resources to move our customers and partners Forward, safely and productively.”

Material on BEEF Briefing Room comes directly from company news releases. Source: Lallemand Animal Health

How a 5K race helps to purchase ag-accurate books for students in North Dakota

Every once in a while, I hear about a beef promotion that gets it just right. This upcoming weekend, the North Dakota CattleWomen (NDCW) will its annual “Beefin’ It Up - Fuel for the finish” 5K & 10K. Set for Oct. 3 in Mandan, North Dakota, this athletic event also includes a half-mile fun run, scavenger hunt and other activities for kids, and a free beef meal for all participants and spectators following the race. 


What sets this race apart from others is that 100% of the proceeds will help the NDCW provide North Dakota elementary students with educational materials about livestock production, beef nutrition and ranch life. In the past, I’ve teamed up with NDCW to provide my children’s book, “Levi’s Lost Calf,” to the state’s elementary schools, and each year, they select new agricultural material to share with educators in the region.

READ: Why agricultural education is desperately needed in elementary schools

Books were donated to Lincoln Library in 2014, following the "Beefin' It Up" 5K. Photo Credit: North Dakota CattleWomen

Following the 2014 event, NDCW members purchased more than 650 books for schools and libraries across the state. In the last three years, they’ve purchased 1,000 books, thanks to the folks who participate in this running event.

So not only will Team Beef members be running in this event, which promotes beef to healthy families and athletes, but the dollars raised to will then be used to educate kids about where their food comes from. It’s a win-win, in my opinion, and I’m happy to promote it on the BEEF Daily blog.

If this event is something you would like to participate in but you don’t live close to North Dakota, don't worry — you can enter the race virtually for $30.

You can register to run in the event or show your support by clicking here.

Also be sure to check out the Facebook page for race details, photos and results.

Reaching athletes, families, and young students is a great use of beef checkoff dollars and helps to promote the role of beef in a healthy, active lifestyle while also boosting beef demand. I tip my hat to the folks with NDCW and thank them for their efforts to promote beef in their state.

Have you participated in any unique beef promotions lately? I would love to hear about them. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

 

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Who won our September photo contest? Plus, 3 voters take home prizes

Who won our September photo contest? Plus, 3 voters take home prizes

With October just around the corner, it’s time to wrap up our September photo contest. This month, we collected 70+ images of hard-working beef producers from readers across the country. From there, we narrowed down the entries to 15 finalists, and asked you to help us select our champions. Today, we announce the winners.

View the entire collection of photos here.


Check out the 15 finalists here.

With a record-high 1,300-plus votes from 450 voters, we thank everyone who took the time to choose their favorite photos and return daily to help influence our winners.

Congratulations to our grand champion photographer, Coleman Lay, with his entry, “Driving them home.”

Photo Credit: Coleman Lay

About the image, Lay writes, "This picture is of my Grandpa Ron Lay. Our ranch is in Medical Springs Oregon. Grandpa Ron has been working there since he was 4 years old. He's 76 years old and still works full days."

Reserve champion honors go to Sandra Richelderfer with “Working on the D2 Ranch.”

Photo Credit: Sandra Richelderfer

Sarah Anderson submitted the photo on behalf of her mom, Sandra, and she shared this message about the image: “This is my mom's 85-year-old dad, Don Dodson, fixing fence this week on his 3,000-acre hay and cattle ranch in North Powder, Oregon (the D2 Ranch). Even though Granddad has turned over most of the ranch work to family, he still has his own herd of commercial cattle on the ranch and he is as active as one can be at that age! His ranch is his legacy and his three daughters, eight grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren all love the ranch and use it in some capacity. Granddad was born on this ranch and has lived and worked on it his entire life. We couldn't love him more!”

Richefelder and Lay will receive a $300 voucher for a custom Greeley Hat Works hat. Thanks to GHW for being a contest sponsor once again. We love seeing our readers get fixed up with cool new cowboy hats!

Finally, as promised, three voters were randomly selected to take home prizes, as well. The three lucky winners who will receive a copy of “Waiting For Daylight: King Ranch: Images from the Past” with photography by Janell Kleberg are Andrew Ewing, Nick Cripe, and Brittany Bowman. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who participated!

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

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Feedyard activity: A tale of two very different years

Feedyard activity: A tale of two very different years

Since early April when fed trade scored $167-8, the market has made positive gains in only five out of 24 weeks. Cumulatively, cattle feeders have endured a $35 per cwt. skid, encroaching on a $475-500 per head drop in value, over five months. 

As a result, closeouts have been very challenging through most of 2015. Not surprisingly, cattle feeders are fighting the market. That’s driving reluctance to both buy and sell cattle.   

Fed cattle marketings through August total 784,000 fewer head compared with last year. Additionally, August marketings were the slowest for the month in USDA’s Cattle on Feed series dating back to 1996. From a collective standpoint, the unavoidable consequences of slow marketings are to impact the front-end supply and pressure the market even more. Accordingly, cattle feeders are finding themselves running behind in terms of capacity utilization while also being increasingly loaded on the front end.   

year-to-date feedlot placements

Feedyard placements are also dragging. Negative closeouts, coupled with the prospect for the pattern to continue into spring, makes for reluctant buyers. Plus, weaker prices have made for reluctant selling. Year-to-date, through August, placements are running 681,000 behind 2014. Moreover, similar to marketings, August placements also were the smallest in USDA’s Cattle on Feed series.    

How do you perceive the current market? What’s your view of any type of market recovery or timing for some type of resurgence? Will the market’s slump since April influence the cow-calf sector’s intention to expand in the coming years?  

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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Are you the cause of antibiotic resistance?

Are you the cause of antibiotic resistance?

Wonderments about antimicrobial resistance—how it occurs, the link between resistance and use of antibiotics in humans and animals—have brewed for decades.

“Antibiotic resistance is a complex issue and doesn’t derive from any single source,” according to a summary statement in the White Paper produced by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) symposium on antibiotics last year, which focused on progress in battling antibiotic resistance through shared stewardship. “As such, it is best addressed by a systems-based approach that strives to close gaps of misunderstanding and avoid implementing impetuous remedies that may produce ineffective solutions.”

What’s changing is increased pressure on antibiotic use in food animals.

“Useful baseline information is currently available on antimicrobial drug sales (for agricultural use) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), but limited data are available regarding actual use,” according to the White Paper. “Collecting additional information to link shifts in on-farm antimicrobial use practices with AMR data is a high priority and meaningful metrics are needed to assess the impacts of different antimicrobial use practices on AMR, particularly related to stewardship and policy initiatives.”

hard working ranchers gallery

70 photos show ranchers hard at work on the farm
Readers have submitted photos of hard-working ranchers caring for their livestock and being stewards of the land. See reader favorite photos here.

 

That’s why the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University and NIAA are conducting a survey of beef cattle producers to assess producer opinions and use of antibiotics. That’s also why NIAA is hosting another antibiotics symposium—the fifth in as many years—Nov. 3-5 in Atlanta. Titled “Antibiotic Stewardship: From Metrics to Management,” It will again bring together leading researchers, government officials, retailers, and industry professionals in animal and human health.

“This is not just a gathering to discuss the challenges faced by the varied sectors,” says Steve Solomon of Global Public Health Consulting, the event’s moderator. “It is about a rich exchange of information, the development of a metrics framework, and moving forward on this very contentious and vital subject.”

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6 Trending Headlines: Cow confinement can improve pastures; PLUS: How’s the culture in your cowherd?

The idea of a confinement or semi-confinement cow-calf operation is growing in acceptance. That’s because, from several perspectives, it offers advantages to both the cattle and the cattle producer. You’ll learn about that, plus other news you can use, in today’s Trending Headlines.

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