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News and views on stocker segment issues from BEEF magazine.
September 12, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication

Korea Opens To U.S. Beef

Mycoplasma Management Reminders -- Part I

Some Rain -- Finally!

Look Hard At DDG Prices Soon

Sign Up Now For BEEF Quality Summit, Nov. 14-15

Other Events

It's Both A Sellers And Buyers Market

Questions & Comments

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Korea Opens To U.S. Beef
Though it seems anticlimactic after almost three years, Korea's announcement last Thursday to resume importing U.S. beef on a limited basis is a crucial step in normalizing beef trade. The ban is lifted on only boneless beef derived from cattle 30 months old or younger.

"While this still doesn't represent a full resumption of trade, it does provide access to significant value for U.S. producers," say National Cattlemen's Beef Association officials. "In 2003, the U.S. exported around $814 million worth of beef to South Korea, and boneless beef cuts accounted for nearly $450 million of this total."

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns, says, "We look forward to expanding our access to the Korean market and other export markets to achieve trade consistent with international guidelines... We're mindful that significant technical issues exist that must be resolved. We'll continue to work with Korea to address these matters in the coming days."

Seeing is believing.
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* Not for use in lactating dairy animals. Adverse reactions, including injection site swelling, restlessness, ataxia, inflammation and respiratory abnormalities, have been reported.

™TETRADURE is a trademark of Merial. © 2005 Merial Limited. All rights reserved.

Stocker Health
Mycoplasma Management Reminders -- Part I
With the fall run of calves knocking at the door, it pays to keep in mind management associated with a decreased incidence of mycoplasma (non-responsive pneumonia and arthritis). As Kansas State University researchers noted in the mycoplasma survey they conducted among stockers and backgrounders in 2001, "As mycoplasma appears to be an opportunist occurring most frequently during times of stress or when a calf's immune system is weakened, management programs should focus on procedures that can get calves started in the right direction."

  • Watch your cattle buying practices. Are you going to buy large numbers of cattle and find cattle free of mycoplasma? Probably not. The organism is too wide spread. As a simple recommendation, know your order buyer. Cattle represented as cheap and "too good to be true" probably aren't in the long run. Buying stale, stressed calves increases the likelihood of having cattle that respond poorly to treatment. A significant finding from the survey was cattle-buying practices do increase the risk of having cattle with non-responsive pneumonia and arthritis.

    Yes, there's a difference between lightweight and heavyweight cattle. Lightweight cattle are at greater risk, but you obviously still must buy what fits your program and pocketbook. Minimizing the number of states you buy cattle from or at least sourcing cattle from a single order-buying facility, regardless of the state or region of origin, appears to help in reducing loads of affected cattle. This appears particularly important for cattle brought in during winter months.

  • Buy what you can handle. It takes a pretty good workday for one or two people to feed, check pens for sick calves, and pull and treat those calves. Add into the mix days when you process a load or two, and it's not hard to see why everything begins to stack up.

    Cattle should be fed and observed for sickness first thing in the morning. Watching how calves rise and come to the bunk goes a long way in picking up sick animals. Waiting until later in the day is a problem, particularly if there's a wide difference in temperature from morning to afternoon, since most calves will have increased respiratory rates that can mask signs of early pneumonia.

    Additionally, cattle appear to better handle the stress of handling for treatment and processing earlier in the day than later in the afternoon or evening (Breazile, 1988). Leaving sick calves for treatment until everything else is done prolongs the time from when a calf actually gets sick and when the drugs begin to work. Because mycoplasma is an opportunist, extensive lung damage resulting from delayed or ineffective treatment of common pneumonia-causing organisms may increase the likelihood of mycoplasma invading the lungs.

  • Vaccinate for common respiratory pathogens. Again, mycoplasma is an opportunist. Doing all you can to minimize common respiratory viruses such as infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), BVD, Parainfluenza 3 (PI3) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) from occurring will decrease the likelihood of damage to the respiratory tract and debilitation.

    As clinical cases of BVD have been associated with increased risk to mycoplasma infection, a BVD vaccine component should be used in the receiving program. Based on survey results, whether a modified-live or killed BVD vaccine was used, no particular vaccine program appeared to have an advantage over another.

    Based on the survey results, Pasteurella vaccines are currently being used in a large number of stocker operations. There was no statistical difference in the number of operations with affected loads of cattle using this type of vaccine and those that don't.

  • Minimize contact between arriving cattle and sick pen cattle. Large numbers of mycoplasma organisms are shed from nasal secretions of sick calves. Exposing new cattle to the unnecessary risk of contact with the organism should be avoided. Utilize separate sick pens and receiving or holding pens. Clean and disinfect hospital pen waterers daily.

    Moreover, water fountains are a source of infection for calves that are sick from other causes besides mycoplasma and for incoming cattle being exposed to the organism through these and common handling facilities. Since the organism can stay viable in water for extended periods of time, drain, clean, sanitize and rinse waterers daily. Disinfectant solutions of peracetic acid and iodophores have been shown to be effective against mycoplasma ((Pfutzner and Sachse, 1996). These products are commercially available in the U.S. Hypochlorides tend to be ineffective because of the prolonged contact time needed to kill the organism.
Find more recommendations and survey info at

Weather And Crops
Some Rain -- Finally!
It doesn't change anything for cow-calf operations that shipped cows months ago, but the rain that fell in some of the most parched states -- the first measurable precipitation in months -- sure has some folks thinking about the prospects of fall grazing.

According to the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS), pasture conditions actually improved in some of the driest states for the first time since last year. That doesn't mean it's not horrible, just that it's heading in the right direction.

In part due to remnants of tropical storms Ernesto and John, the folks at NASS explain, "Light to moderate rainfall across much of the Corn Belt and Great Plains helped to improve soil-moisture levels and crop conditions."

At the risk of being a spoilsport, last summer ended on a wet note, too. Moisture conditions were more favorable then before the rain set in then stopped.

According to NASS, for the week ending Sept. 3:
  • Corn -- 97% is at or beyond the Dough Stage, compared to 96% last year and 92% for the five-year average. Doughing was at or ahead of normal in all states. 81% has entered the Dent Stage, which is 4% ahead of last year and 14% ahead of average. 59% is rated Good or better, compared to 51% last year.

  • Soybeans -- 13% of the acreage was dropping leaves, the same as last year but 1% ahead of normal. 59% is rated Good or better; 54% was at the same time last year.

  • Spring Wheat -- 97% of the crop is in the bin, which is 9% ahead of last year and 17% ahead of the five-year average.

  • Barley -- Harvest advanced to 93% complete, compared to 87% at this time last year and 83% for normal.

  • Sorghum -- 94% of the acreage is in the heading stage, which is 1% behind last year but 2% ahead of normal. 62% was at or beyond turning color, 2% ahead of last year but the same as average. 30% is ranked Good or better, compared to 47% last year.

  • Pasture -- 24% is rated Good or Excellent, compared to 34 last year. 24% is rated Poor and 23% is ranked Very Poor, compared to 22% and 12% respectively at the same time last year.
States with the worst pasture conditions -- at least 40% of the acreage rated poor or worse -- include: Alabama (67%); Arizona (67%); Arkansas (49%); California (65%); Colorado (42%); Georgia (46%); Kansas (50%); Louisiana (45%) ; Mississippi (49%); Missouri (64%); Montana (48%); Nebraska (65%); Nevada (58%); North Dakota (61%); Oklahoma (74%); OR (49%); South Dakota (56%); Texas (78%); and Wyoming (73%).

States with the lushest pasture conditions -- at least 40% rated good or better -- include: Florida (40%); Idaho (41%); Illinois (58%); Indiana (59%); Iowa (50%); Kentucky (60%); Maine (89%); Michigan (52%); New Mexico (66%); New York (66%); North Carolina (54%); Ohio (53%); South Carolina (51%); Utah (47%); Washington (46%); West Virginia (48%); and Wisconsin (44%).

An open-and-shut case.

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®IVOMEC and the CATTLE HEAD LOGO are registered trademarks of Merial. © 2005 Merial Limited. Duluth, GA. All right reserved.

Stocker Business
Look Hard At DDG Prices Soon
As increased ethanol production grows the supply of dried distillers grains (DDG), the need to manage the prices of these feed co-products is also rising.

"Spot market purchase volumes may be limited due to storage considerations (particularly for wetter products), but buyers could talk with their suppliers about locking in prices for the future for routine deliveries," says Darrell Mark, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) ag economist, in the most recent "In the Cattle Markets" newsletter published by UNL and Kansas State University. "Additionally, new research is exploring ways to store distiller's grains that may make stockpiling supplies more feasible.

"The seasonal trend is for DDG prices to peak in mid-April and decline throughout the summer. Seasonal lows typically occur in August at about 80% of the annual average. DDG prices then increase through the fall and early winter months to peak in December and January close to 20% higher than their annual average."

According to Mark, this is based on seasonal price index of DDG using USDA Ag Marketing Service weekly reported prices for Nebraska from 2003-2005. He stresses that long series of price data on wet and dry distiller's grains to analyze are limited, and prices that are available may be thinly traded or not necessarily representative of actual trades made between ethanol plants and cattle feeders or feed buyers. Still, he says it's useful to consider trends in these feed products.

Further, Mark explains, "As ethanol production continues to rapidly increase, the availability of DDG and wet distillers grains will increase. Thus, co-product feed prices may not see as large a seasonal increase in the third and fourth quarter of upcoming years as suggested in the table. In fact, the DDG price increase was much smaller for 2004 and 2005 than for 2003.

So, in this ever-changing co-product market, prices may not increase in late 2006 as much as the historical trend suggests. But, this will likely differ greatly across localized markets depending upon the relative supply and demand for the distillers grain products."

For some added perspective on ethanol growth, a recent visit to North Dakota revealed to us: currently there are two ethanol plants in the state producing approximately 35 million gals. of ethanol; within 18 months current construction calls for a total of six or seven plants producing 10 times that much!

You can find Mark's complete report at

Sign Up Now For BEEF Quality Summit, Nov. 14-15
Sign up now at for BEEF magazine's 2006 BEEF Quality Summit. The Nov. 14-15 workshop in Oklahoma City's Clarion Hotel aims to provide attendees with the background, tools and the environment to make the connections for involvement, and the potential rewards offered, in the new beef-value chain.

The first day's program is devoted to outlining the opportunity available in the new beef-value chain, the second to how to link your production into that chain. Among the topics to be discussed are:
  • How U.S. beef consumers define quality.

  • Quality, profit and the cattle cycle.

  • International competition and opportunities for U.S. quality beef.

  • Current international beef-trade opportunities.

  • Producers will discuss how they're paid for quality.

  • Selecting a marketing partner.

  • Evaluating costs, trade-offs and risks of various markets

  • Linking up with a marketing partner -- an opportunity to meet with participating marketing channel reps.
For more detail, visit and click on the "BEEF Quality Summit" box in the top right corner of the opening page.

Other Events
Sept. 28 -- Kansas State University (KSU) Beef Stocker Conference, KSU Beef Stocker Unit, Manhattan, KS. For more information contact 785-532-1267.

Oct. 11-13 -- Texas Cattle Feeders Association Annual Convention, Amarillo Civic Center, Amarillo, TX. For registration information, log on to, e-mail TCFA at or call (806) 358-3681.

Feb. 13-14 -- Mid-South Stocker Conference, Cave City, KY, presented by the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee. For more information, visit You can also contact Dr. Jim Neel (865-974-7294;, John Bartee (931-648-5725; or Dr. John T. Johns (859-257-2853;


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® MERIAL, SUREHEALTH, and the SUREHEALTH and CATTLEHEAD LOGOS are all registered trademarks of Merial. © 2006 Merial Limited. All rights reserved.

It's Both A Sellers And Buyers Market
One thing you have to love about high calf markets and scarce forage -- at least they're opening up some value propositions on the buy side.

"Cow-Calf producers from Missouri, northern Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas are selling their calves early and at lighter weights in an attempt to salvage enough forage for their mothers," say Ag Marketing Service (AMS) reporters. "Many of these calves possess less added-value than normal, with producers weaning en route to the sale barn. Also, a larger percentage of the smaller operators are leaving bulls uncut and shots un-given. The feeder market is hard for sellers to resist, with handsome prices for calves and near record levels for yearlings."

In round numbers, feeder and stocker cattle sold firm to $3 higher last week, boosted by fed-cattle prices the prior week that surpassed $90 for the first time since February. Added strength came with recent moisture in parts of wheat-pasture country, and the psychological lift of South Korea agreeing to resume importing U.S. beef.

According to AMS, "Ample recent moisture in the hard red winter-wheat regions has backgrounders excited about early grazing as farmers are hustling to sow fields. Orders increased for 250- to 450-lb. calves bound for southern Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle starter yards for a quick 30-day warm up."

As for the fed-cattle market, gains in boxed-beef prices helped feeders hold pat last week, refusing packer bids they deemed too low.

"Late Friday, managers of mostly current feedlots continued to refuse lower packer bids and significant trading appeared doubtful with October CME contracts settling $1.40 lower at $92.35," say AMS analysts.

The summary below reflects the week ended Sept. 8 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:

Summary Table
State Volume Steers Heifers
Calf Weight 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs. 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs.
TX 24,700 $119.90 $113.41 $107.04 $114.22 $105.74 $102.10
MO 21,300 $135.91 $132.53 $125.60 $123.04 $119.15 $117.28
KY* 15,300 $119-129 $109-118 $105-1145 $108-118 $100-110 $95-1055
OK 14,300 $130.60 $120.87 $123.42 $118.74 $115.53 $111.47
AL 12,700 $118-126 $110-117 $100-1075 $104-112 $98-107 $92-98
WY* 12,500 $136.21 $125.97 $121.10 $121.83 $124.00 $115.18
TN* 9,100 $122.29 $114.02 $108.53 $111.27 $103.44 $102.834
Dakotas 8,700
South Dakota
North Dakota






MS* 7,900 $110-1201 $100-1103 ** $105-1101 $95-105 $90-954
GA*(***) 7,700 $103-129 $100-117.25 $96-105 $90-117 $95-108 $86-99.50
AR 7,400 $124.80 $116.24 $111.30 $114.94 107.39 $102.66
IA 6,500 $141.50 $134.33 $130.53 $133.67 $120.39 $116.65
FL* 6,100 $105-124 $97-112 $91-102 $100-110 $95-106 $95-1034
LA* 5,500 $113-123 $105-1153 ** $105-116 $101-111 **
NE 5,000 $138.83 $137.152 $122.64 $129.56 $119.512 $118.27
CO 4,000 $138.77 $128.302 ** $123.41 $119.642 **
NM* 3,500 $122.56 ** ** $116.38 $109.57 **
Carolinas* 2,700 $107-128 $100-1153 $94-1065 $100-113 $94-1063 $85-99.505
VA 1,600 $121.192 $113.76 $108.10 $111.352 $104.56 **
WA* 1,500 $126.28 ** ** ** ** **
MT 1,400 $131.96 ** $117.546 ** ** $112.97
KS 800 ** ** ** $120.162 ** $113.38

* Plus 2
** None reported at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
NDNo Description
1500-600 lbs.
2550-600 lbs.
3600-700 lbs.
4650-700 lbs.
5700-800 lbs.
6750-800 lbs.
7800-850 lbs.

Questions & Comments
Please send questions to:

Wes Ishmael, Contributing Editor, BEEF Stocker Trends, at

Joe Roybal, Editor, BEEF magazine, at


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