Drought-Cow Slaughter Makes Expansion
a Close Call
Few would argue that cyclical cow expansion has stopped
or gone into reverse. That's tough to do when beef production is record
large and April 1 saw a record-large number of cattle on feed.
But federally inspected cow slaughter is high enough that you've got to
wonder if expansion will stall a bit due to drought.
For the first quarter of this year, the Livestock Marketing Information
Center (LMIC) reports that total federally inspected cow slaughter is up
2% over the same period last year, but still 11% below the five-year
average. Looking at beef cows specifically, LMIC says first-quarter
slaughter was up 8% over last year; and up about 10% since the first of
"Year-to-year increases in beef-cow slaughter have mostly been due to
dry conditions in the Southern Plains and southeastern regions of the
From a national perspective, slaughter levels do not yet indicate a
reduction in the national cowherd," explain the folks at LMIC.
Though recent rains in some drought-stricken areas have brought some
relief, the next 60 days will likely be critical in determining whether
slaughter-cow levels will increase. As Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State
University Extension livestock economist, noted last week, "We're
getting rain, but the lack of subsoil moisture means even if we get some
grass now we'll be about two weeks away from running out of it all
Obviously the market isn't rushing to conclusions as wholesale and
fed-cattle prices remain soft, although the immigration rally last
Monday was preceded by some panic buying in the wholesale market.
USDA Closes Latest BSE
The dental remains of the last cow diagnosed with BSE in
the U.S. were a whole lot easier to find than the cow's relatives, or
even her origin for that matter.
Announcing the end of the investigation last Tuesday, USDA says it was
unable to locate any of the cow's relatives, other than her last two
offspring. A total of 36 farms and five auction houses were
"The investigation did not reveal the BSE-positive animal's herd of
origin. However, this was not entirely unexpected due to the age of the
animal, along with its lack of identifying brands, tattoos and tags.
Experience worldwide has shown that it's highly unusual to find BSE in
more than one animal in a herd or in an affected animal's offspring,"
says John Clifford, USDA Chief Veterinary Officer.
For the record, dental records indicated the cow -- she was
non-ambulatory and was euthanized and buried at the owner's farm -- was
at least 10 years old. That means she was born after the ban on feeding
ruminant protein was enacted.
Preconditioned calves are in demand. MERIAL®
SUREHEALTH® is the only national veterinarian
certified preconditioning program. It's backed by the Merial
SUREHEALTH limited health warranty and now offers optional source
and age verification. SUREHEALTH is a USDA-approved Quality
Systems Assessment (QSA) program. Click here
for more information.
® MERIAL, SUREHEALTH, and the SUREHEALTH and
CATTLEHEAD LOGOS are all registered trademarks of Merial. © 2006
Merial Limited. All rights reserved.
Reducing BRD As A Shield against
Until the latter part of the 1990s, no one talked much
about mycoplasma. Since then, its prevalence and indestructible nature
have robbed plenty of hair from stocker operators and cattle feeders.
"Mycoplasma is the most difficult of the causes of pneumonia to
identify, treat and prevent," say Fred Hopkins, Matt Wellborn and Warren
Gill from the University of Tennessee (UT). "Affected calves may
continue to eat and show only a low-grade fever. These calves may not be
pulled early enough, and this allows infection to become well
established before treatment begins."
Consequently these folks conclude that an aggressive vaccination program
aimed at other causes of pneumonia (on arrival), along with the early,
effective and long-duration treatment of calves infected with M.
hemolytica and P. multocida, allow calves to concentrate
their immune defenses on clearing mycoplasma.
After all, say the researchers, antibiotic treatment aimed at mycoplasma
infection is ineffective because the organism has no cell wall.
Though preventing mycoplasma is difficult at best, UT researchers say,
along with arming calves to fight off other pneumonia-causing agents,
these steps can help:
Find more detail about mycoplasmosis from these researchers in the
production section at www.midsouthstockerconference.org.
- Clean and disinfect feeders and waterers before a new group of
- Buy single-source calves that have had appropriate vaccinations
- Don't allow nose-to-nose contact between new calves and calves
already on the premises.
- Manage newly arriving calves so they eat and drink as soon as
- Make sure calves aren't overcrowded and have adequate space at the
feed bunk and waterer.
- Vaccinate on arrival using a modified-live virus vaccine against
IBR, BVD, PI3, and BRSV. Also use a good vaccine against M.
hemolytica and P. multocida, booster vaccinations should be
given according to label directions regardless of previous vaccinations.
- Mycoplasma vaccine may be of some help if the strain on the farm is
similar to the vaccine strain.
- Mass treatment of new arrivals using florfenicol, tulathromycin,
tilmicosin or long-acting tetracycline may be of some help.
- Chloratetracycline in the starter ration may be of some benefit.
- An effective program of early and aggressive treatment for
respiratory disease allows the calf to resist other infections such as
- Infected animals should be isolated from other calves, and
particularly away from newly arrived calves for up to six weeks after
- Don't expect success in treating chronically infected calves. They
only serve as an infection source for other calves -- isolate them from
new arrivals and other treated calves.
An open-and-shut case.
The case for Strategic Parasite Control is stronger than ever.
Especially where liver flukes reduce conception rates, weaning weights
and rate of gain. Reduce the number of open cows. Shut the door on
flukes and other internal and external parasites with
IVOMEC® Plus (ivermectin/clorsulon).
®IVOMEC and the CATTLE HEAD LOGO are registered
trademarks of Merial. © 2005 Merial Limited. Duluth, GA. All right
Weather And Crops
Corn Gains Some Ground
After a slightly slower start than the five-year
average, corn planting and emergence moved ahead of average for the week
ending April 30, according to the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS).
In fact, heavy precipitation in the western Corn Belt, central and
southern Great Plains and Mississippi Delta improved soil moisture
without hindering fieldwork to a great extent. Last week's rain in the
Southern Plains should further boost chances for summer pasture, at
least for a time.
For the week ending April 30, according to (NASS):
- Corn -- 52% of the acreage has been
planted, which is 3% ahead of last year and 10%
ahead of the normal pace. 13% has emerged, which is 1% ahead of last year and 2% ahead of normal.
Progress is reported ahead of normal in all states except Indiana and
- Soybeans -- 10% is planted, 2% ahead of last year and 3% ahead of normal.
- Winter Wheat -- 39% was at or beyond the
heading stage. That's 12% ahead of last year and 13%
ahead of normal. At least based on reports out of Kansas though, some of
it will be of the header-dragging variety.
- Spring Wheat -- 42% of the crop is in the
ground, which is 16% behind last year and 1% behind
- Barley -- 34% of seeding is complete; 16% behind last year and 9% behind average.
- Sorghum -- 28% of the acreage is
sown, which is 9% ahead of last year and 8% ahead of
- Oats -- 77% of planting is complete, which is even with last year and 10% ahead of the
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 Manhattan, KS
and will include live-animal demos, hands-on use of animal ID equipment,
a review of available technologies, and how to budget a system.
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 feed yards, 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, visit www.beefidcourse.org/index.html,
or contact Lois Schreiner at 785-532-1267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't take a chance. Treat all incoming cattle with
IVOMEC® Plus (ivermectin/clorsulon)
Liver flukes are spreading and every load of incoming cattle could be
carrying them. The liver fluke problem is hard to diagnose and rarely
shows in clinical signs. Only IVOMEC® Plus
(ivermectin/clorsulon) kills liver flukes and other internal and
external parasites, all in a single dose. Product information.
®IVOMEC and the CATTLE HEAD LOGO are registered
trademarks of Merial. © 2006 Merial Limited. All rights
Fundamental Weaknesses Drive Market
Calf sales were higher in a few areas compared to the
previous week, thanks in large part to timely rains and optimism for
summer pasture. Overall though, calf and stocker markets were called
unevenly steady, with weaker tones prevailing as the week wore on.
Right now, most eyes are on the fed-cattle market, which lost $3 last
week at $78-$79.50.
"The bleeding may not be over as June live cattle futures closed below
74 today," note Ag Marketing Service reporters. "Year to date, cattle
slaughter is up 2.3% from a year ago but total beef production is up
5.3% due to heavier marketing weights. Corn prices are 25¢ above a
All that is to state the obvious: there's lots of beef production
fighting for consumers, with historically large poultry and pork
supplies, too. Never mind the bite that fuel prices are taking out of
Many economists don't see much relief for feedlots until late this year,
if then. Even if another needed record corn crop presents itself this
year to hold feed prices in check, this reality means feedlots will be
gunning for more realistic feeder prices, relative to the fed market.
Numbers say cow-calf producers will remain in the driver's seat this
fall, meaning stockers may feel the squeeze from both sides.
The summary below reflects the week ended May 4 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. |
| OK || 27,200
||$113.82 || $104.23 || $113.20 || $104.26
|| $93.93 |
| TX ||22,300 || $118.09
|| $104.93 ||
|| $99.72 || $97.684 |
| MO || 21,600 || $127.47 || $117.25 || $106.02 || $117.04 || $107..29 || $97.48 |
| KY* ||19,700 || $114-124 ||
$105-115 || $90-1005 || $106-116 || $92-1023 || $81-915 |
| KS ||12,000 || $122.512 || $121.02 || $105.36
|| $116.11 ||$106.36 || $97.69 |
| Dakotas ||10,100 |
| ** |
| ** |
| $101.21 |
| GA*(***) ||8,500 || $101-120 ||
$93-110 || $90-93 || $100-117 || $88-110 || $85-1074
| AL ||7,800
|| $110-1152 || **
|| $96-106 || $84-91.75 |
| TN* ||7,700 || $116.26 ||$105.03 || $91.81 || $107.67 ||$100.20 || $85.50 |
| AR ||6,900
|| $109.29 || $100.48 || $108.57 ||
$102.72 || $93.05 |
||6,100 || $100-119 ||
$87-1143 || $84-955 || $95-115 || $80-99 || $70-945 |
| WY ||5,700 || $123.66
||$110.43 || $101.16 |
| CO ||5,200
|| $128.232 || $120.76 || $104.62 || $115.75 ||$103.24 || $97.53 |
| FL ||4,700
|| $104-1122 ||
|| $90-1072 || **
| NE ||4,100 || ** ||
$117.89 || $109.03 || $111.732 || $109.24 || $97.80 |
| NM* ||4,000 || ** ||
$101.18 || **
||*$105.302 || **
| MS* ||3,800 || $105-1151 || $95-1053 || $85-95 || $95-1051 ||$85-95 || $80-855 |
| LA*ND ||2,700 || $100-120 ||
** || $96-116 ||
$95-1122 || ** |
| VA ||2,100
|| $108.89 || $103.664
|| $97.68 ||
| IA ||1,900 || $126.15
|| $116.324 || $116.72 || $105.39 || $97.50 |
| WA* ||1,700 || **
|| $90.926 || **
| MT ||1,500
|| ** ||$120.03 || **
||** || $100.70 |
* Plus 2
** None reported at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
Please send questions to:
Wes Ishmael, Contributing Editor, BEEF Stocker Trends, at email@example.com
Joe Roybal, Editor, BEEF magazine, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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