National Stocker Award Applications
Due April 30
If you haven't already nominated your own stocker
program -- or a peer's -- for BEEF's National Stocker Award, look
for the details at www.beef-mag.com and consider doing so.
Three finalists will be chosen from the following categories:
Of these, one will be selected to receive the National Stocker Award and
a $10,000 cash prize. The winner also receives a trip to the 2007 NCBA
Convention for special recognition. As well, BEEF will announce
the winner and publish stories about the three finalists in the October
- Summer stocker operation (forage-based)
- Fall/winter stocker operation (forage-based)
- Backgrounding/dry lot stocker (feed-based)
Selection will be based on information provided in the NSA nomination
form (available at www.beef-mag.com) and follow-up phone interviews
by the selection committee. The main eligibility requirement is that the
nominee derives the majority of cattle income from the
The deadline for nominations is April 30, 2006. The selection
committee includes representatives from private industry, university
Extension and BEEF Magazine.
Besides recognizing the best of the best stockers and backgrounders, the
program will give peers a chance to find out how the winners excel. This
is in keeping with BEEF's philosophy of helping producers learn
from one another.
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Cattle On Feed Estimates Higher Than
Market bears had an extra reason to roar with the Cattle
On Feed Report released Friday. The inventory is reported at 9% ahead of
last year, and 10% higher than April 1, 2004. In fact, it's the largest
April 1 inventory since the series began 10 years ago.
Likewise, cattle placement in feedlots for March was 5% ahead of last
year, while marketings were down slightly.
Moreover, the Livestock Slaughter report issued by USDA last week pegs
beef production and total red meat production at record high levels.
Beef production for March (2.21 billion lbs.) is 8% higher than a year
ago on 5% more cattle being slaughtered. Average carcass weights
(average 1,273 lbs.) are 36 lbs. heavier than a year ago.
As for total red meat production (4.11 billion lbs.), it's 6% more than
a year earlier.
Since the beginning of the year, accumulated beef production is running
6% more than last year; pork is 4% higher.
Build Cattle Value In Steps
Listen to Tom Brink and it's easy to understand exactly
the type of cattle the world's largest cattle feeding organization wants
it's suppliers to provide.
Brink is senior vice president of cattle ownership and risk management
for Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding, LLC, which has a one-time feeding
capacity of 811,000 head.
First and foremost, Brink told participants at last week's Beef
Improvement Federation annual meeting in Mississippi they want healthy
cattle, which continues to be a challenge.
"Cattle health is now a social problem, not a technological issue,"
Brink said. Though the industry has more knowledge and tools to combat
cattle disease, he added, "Implementation is lacking. Many cattle still
need stronger immunity before they leave home."
The problem isn't just interstate-weaned calves either. Brink shared
March close-outs for 75,206 yearling-fed steers in the Five Rivers
operation. Overall, death loss was 0.79%, which the industry obviously
would consider to be excellent. Break it down, though, and Brink
explains death loss of up to 0.5% represented a $10.89 loss/head on
average. At a death loss of 0.5-1.5%, the average loss/head grows to
$20.41. Over 1.5%, the red ink almost triples at $57.62 lost/head.
All breeds are not created equal
Another thing suppliers can do to gain the attention of cattle feeders
like Five Rivers is bring them cattle comprised of the breed mix that
works best for them.
"A large number of the industry's cattle are still designed wrong
genetically," Brink said. "Too many have the wrong breed composition to
succeed in the feedlots and to satisfy the consumer."
Specifically, Five River wants cattle that are 50-75% Angus, up to 50%
Continental, with no more than 25% Bos indicus or other breeds in the
"You will be paid more for avoiding breed composition problems in your
cattle," Brink said. In other words, historically wide price ranges for
same-class, same-weight, same-sex cattle will continue to grow based at
least in part on breed composition.
According to Brink, ineffective breed composition in cattle is costing
the industry millions of dollars as well as competitiveness in the
global beef market.
Bottom line, Brink believes feeder cattle value is built in steps.
First, comes breed composition, which allows producers to obtain at
least market price. Combine that with certified immunity and Brink says
the door opens to grid premiums. Add source and process verification to
the mix and the opportunity for branded beef premiums are possible.
That's not just lip service, either. Brink pointed out, "We have never
had a marketing system that rewards true value like we have today.
Leverage it to your advantage."
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More Care Now Equals Less Care
"Information and communication are the most valuable
tools to use in overcoming the unique set of health and management
issues presented by each group of calves on stocker operations," says
Brad White, an associate professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State
University College of Veterinary Medicine. "Farms should continually
evaluate cattle receiving, initial processing, nutritional management
and disease management programs."
That's how White summed up his advice for stocker operators and
backgrounders attending the Mid-South Stocker Conference earlier this
spring. Along the way, he shared a number of stocker-based cattle health
tips and reminders:
- "Groups of calves should be divided into risk classifications of
high or low, based on the assessment of animals received and on (if
available) historic performance of the animal type. The risk
classification influences initial animal management, treatment protocols
and labor allocation for the pen. An operation should evaluate current
resources and match them to the purchase pattern to ensure proper animal
- "A specific protocol for each risk classification should be
generated for each operation, using the history of disease prevalence in
- "The major difference between high and low risk protocols are the
decisions regarding metaphylaxis, abortifacients and testing for BVD
(bovine viral diarrhea). These choices should be made based on previous
farm history and specific signalment of calf groups. The use of an
appropriately selected prophylactic antibiotic has been shown to
decrease morbidity and mortality attributable to pneumonia caused by a
susceptible pathogen in weaned calves."
- "To minimize the effect of adding cattle to an existing pen, try to
limit the period of adding calves to three days or less. As cattle
become clinically ill after arrival, they typically shed a higher number
of pathogens; adding new cattle to pens can lengthen the time of peak
disease pressure in the pen.
- "Heat stress is a very real event which decreases an animal's
ability to respond to vaccines or compensate for others stresses such as
processing and disease challenges. Avoid working cattle when the
temperature humidity index is 80 or higher. Cattle don't cool down
immediately at the end of a hot day; it may take up to six hours for
heat dissipation to occur. Thus, cattle worked at the end of the day or
immediately after sunset may still incur a large amount of heat stress.
During the hot times of the year, early morning is optimal for working
cattle because of the time allowed for heat dissipation overnight.
- "The quality of each procedure performed is more important than the
speed at which it is performed. Improperly administered products do not
prevent disease, thus the result may be getting the calf up again for
treatment, which adds to the time spent on each calf in the long run.
It's better to spend a few more seconds to perform injections correctly
the first time than having large numbers of animals that need to be
- "Rectal temperatures can provide a quick, general guide for
assessment of pulling patterns. A good rule of thumb is 5-10% of the
pulls with a rectal temperature of 104º F or less. If all of the
pulls have a rectal temperature of 105º F or higher, then it's
likely that there are more animals in the pen that need to be segregated
and treated. If only a handful of animals pulled for treatment have a
fever, we may have misdiagnosed illness in some of the animals and
pulled too many.
- "Low-stress handling, isolation, good husbandry and nutrition may be
the best treatments sick calves receive. Increasing undue stress in the
treatment process can increase the odds that an animal will return to
the hospital; taking a few more minutes to perform treatment in a calm,
efficient manner can save future expense and labor."
Weather And Crops
Southern Temperatures Set Record
Weekly temperatures averaged as much as 20º F above
normal across the Plains and Midwest for the week of April 10-16,
according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). In
fact, temperatures of 100º F and higher could be seen as far north
as southern Kansas.
Bottom line, say NASS reporters, the earlier, warmer weather accelerated
development of drought-stressed winter grain in the Southern Plains and
Southwest, while hampering the emergence of newly planted dry land
Conversely, wet weather and below-normal temperatures continue to slow
planting in parts of California and the Northwest. Likewise, moderate
precipitation cross the Corn Belt held planting behind the normal pace.
For the week ending April 16, according to the National Agricultural
- Corn -- 9% of the acreage has been
planted, which is 4% behind last year and 1% off the
- Winter Wheat-- 9% was at or beyond the
heading stage, compared with 6% last year, and with
the five-year average.
- Spring Wheat -- 10% of the crop is in the
ground, which is 11% behind last year and 6% behind
- Barley -- 9% of seeding is complete; 10% behind last year and 9% behind average.
- Sorghum -- 3% of the acreage is
planted, which is 7% ahead of last year and 8% ahead
- Oats -- 44% of planting is complete, which is 8% behind last year, but 1% ahead of
Animal ID Education
If you're wondering how and when to get your arms
wrapped around animal ID of the electronic kind, Kansas State University
(KSU) may have the solution for you. The university will host two
Electronic Beef ID Crash Courses this summer.
The programs will be held at the KSU Stocker Unit outside of Manhattan
and will include live-animal demonstrations, hands-on use of animal ID
equipment, a review of available technologies, and how to budget a
KSU Extension beef specialist Dale Blasi, says this summer's programs,
each aimed at different audiences, are a follow-up to the KSU Beef ID
Academy programs of summer 2004.
The June 21-22 program is aimed at operators of feedyards, sale barns
and stocker-grower operations. The July 19-20 program is aimed
specifically at cow-calf producers and veterinarians. Space is limited
to 100 attendees in each session.
For more info, contact Lois Schreiner at 785/532-1267 or email@example.com.
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Yearlings Up -- Stockers
Sort through Canada's latest BSE case, Japan's ongoing
delay in trade normalization, and the bearish Cattle On Feed report
issued Friday, and the market for the week seems almost positive.
Yearling feeder steers and heifers sold steady to $3 higher. In what
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) reporters call a highly mixed week,
calves and stockers sold steady to $2 lower. Fed cattle trade was light
-- nonexistent in large swaths of feeder country -- and dropped $1-$2
compared to a week earlier.
"May is beef month and cookout season is here. Slaughter has been
running just over 600,000 head per week and it is getting the time of
the year for packers to kick up chain speeds and go for more hours, like
700,000 head/week," say AMS analysts. "With seasonal improved consumer
beef demand this could make a big dent in the supply side. But once
again there is $3.00/gal. gasoline in the budget."
The summary below reflects the week ended April 21 for Medium
and Large 1 -- 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb., 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:
| State|| Volume ||Steers || Heifers
| Calf Weight|| 500-550 lbs. || 600-650 lbs.
|| 700-750 lbs.
|| 500-550 lbs.
|| 600-650 lbs. ||
700-750 lbs. |
| MO || 31,400 || $133.46 || $120.93 || $109.55 || $118.91 || $109.17 || $100.46 |
| TX ||26,300 || $123.17
|| $110.52 ||
|| $103.51 || $96.28 |
| OK || 25,700
||$119.76 || $108.91 || $119.34 || $108.35
|| $99.91 |
| KY* ||18,800 || $116.126 ||
$103.113 || $90-1005 || $107.117 || $95-1053 || $81-915 |
| KS ||16,300 || $137.43 || $119.97
|| $107.85 || $121.36 ||$111.18 || $98.18 |
| Dakotas ||14,600 |
| ** |
| $114.762 |
| $103.584 |
| TN* ||9,400 || $121.26 ||$106.50 || $95.14 || $110.95 ||$97.84 || $88.28 |
| GA*(***) ||9,100 || $105-124 ||
$98-110 || $87-94 || $101-120 || $90-110 || $83-93 |
| IA ||8,500 || $139.22
|| $116.07 || $100.33 |
| AL ||7,500
|| $112-1202 || **
|| $100-110 || $90-92 |
| AR ||7,300
|| $112.24 || $102.06 || $111.13 ||
$100.82 || $91.98 |
| NE ||6,200 || $132.57 || $123.47 || $110.58 || $121.03 || $111.56 || $99.39 |
| WY ||6,200 || $135.34
|| $107.47 || $123.92
| MS* ||4,700 || $110-1221 || $100-110 || $85-955 || $100-1101
| FL ||4,400
|| $100-1132 ||
|| $94-99 || ** |
||4,300 || $98-124 ||
$90-1153 || $88-104.505 || $94-114.75
|| $81-98.75 || $78-87.505 |
| CO ||3,600
|| $116.56 || $105.95 || $110.83 ||$105.01 || $94.54 |
| VA ||2,900
|| $114.32 || $98.16 || $105.42 || $95.234 || $89.38 |
| NM* ||2,600 || $118.64
|| ** || $110.69 ||*108.882
|| ** |
| LA* ||2,400 || $103-123 ||
** || ** ||
** || ** |
| WA* ||1,600 || **
|| $96.676 || **
|| ** |
| MT ||1,000
|| ** || **
|| ** || **
* Plus 2
** None reported at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
Questions & Comments
Please send questions to:
Wes Ishmael, Contributing Editor, BEEF Stocker Trends, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Roybal, Editor, BEEF magazine, at email@example.com
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