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OSU Extension - Fairfield County
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OSU Extension BEEF Team
BEEF Cattle questions may be directed to the OSU Extension BEEF Team through Stephen Boyles or Stan Smith, Editor
You may subscribe to the weekly Ohio BEEF Cattle letter by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous issues of the BEEF Cattle letter
Issue # 937
May 27, 2015
Storing Hay With a Plan - John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator
We are currently in the midst of first-cutting hay season in Ohio. The weather has been reasonably cooperative to allow timely harvest of forages so far this season. Reports of yields to this point have been mixed with several individuals that I have spoken with indicating that tonnage may be down slightly from last year due to freezing temperatures late in April and below average rainfall in May. An earlier harvest season in 2015 may have also impacted yields but should also allow for improved quality.
Much has changed over the years as to how we bale and store hay on the farm. I can recall (not necessarily fond memories!) of nearly all of our hay being made in small, rectangular bales that were stored under roof. The harvest process has evolved over the years to the present where most hay today is harvested as large round or rectangular bales that can be stored in a variety of systems.
Earlier this month we covered the topic of hay storage in issue #934 of the Ohio BEEF Letter. In the video linked through that article, proper hay storage techniques that would minimize storage losses are covered. While it is never too soon to implement effective storage techniques, now is also the time to adjust your storage plans based on how the hay will be fed next winter.
When selecting the storage location for all cuttings of hay this season, think about how the hay will be fed next winter. Arrange the accessibility of the different types and cuttings of hay based on the various production groups and calving season of your herd. Obviously account for potential weather challenges and the probable location where animals will be fed next winter. Make sure to document location of the different types, cuttings, and quality of hay being stored. An evaluation of the quality of hay may include a visual appraisal but should absolutely include a forage analysis test through an accredited laboratory.
Why is a storage plan and documentation of your hay supply so important? The distribution of your hay supply to the various production groups in your herd can have a significant impact on the overall productivity of your herd. The most efficient use of your harvested forages is to match the quality of the forage to any given animal group based of the level of performance required at that stage of production. Of course, this philosophy applies to grazed forages as well.
Simply put, the highest quality hay should be earmarked for young, growing animals, females in the last trimester of pregnancy or females early in lactation. The lowest quality hay can be targeted for body condition score 5-6 females that are in the middle trimester of pregnancy as this would be the part of the reproductive cycle with the lowest nutritional demands. Lower quality forages can also be fed to animals carrying excess body condition or in situations where supplemental feeds are available.
I realize that it may be difficult to think about planning for the challenges of feeding hay next winter when we are currently experience beautiful springtime weather. However, a little planning now can provide a "sunnier" outlook for the economic bottom line for your operation.
EDITOR's NOTE: Not positive which hay is the highest quality? Why not get it tested? This brief presentation tells how:
Food and Drug Administration Antibiotic Ruling 2013 - Dr. Lew Strickland, Extension Veterinarian, University of Tennessee
In December 2013 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed two documents, Guidance for Industry (GFI-209 & GFI 213), to phase out the use of "human medically important" antimicrobials in food animals when used to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency. This ruling will take effect December 2016 - January 2017.
What Does This Mean for Producers?
What Types of Drugs Will be Targeted?
How will producers be able to purchase feed additive antibiotics?
Under the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), veterinarians will still be able to prescribe feed grade antibiotics, ONLY if deemed necessary to treat, or control a current disease outbreak. After the prescribed time period has elapsed, the antibiotic will have to be removed from the feed. Using a feed grade medication for any other purpose than is on the label is extra label use and is illegal.
What about OTC Injectables?
As of right now OTC injectables will not be involved in this ruling, but they are next in line to become script items. A time frame has not been established as to when this will occur.
What Won't Change?
If you have any questions about this process, please do not hesitate to contact me.
EDITOR's NOTE: You may recall that during one session of the 2015 Ohio Beef School Dr. Troy Brick addressed what he saw on the horizon for the future of antibiotic use in cattle. His presentation from that evening is embedded below:
Beef Industry Traveling to a Different Drummer this Year (5/4/15) - Chris Hurt, Extension Economist, Purdue University
The beef industry stands alone in 2015 in its continued reduction in supplies available to consumers. The year of 2014 was a special year for the animal production industries with record high farm level prices for cattle, hogs, broilers, turkeys, milk and eggs. For 2015, a surprisingly fast expansion of poultry, pork and milk production will cause lower prices for those commodities. Beef stands alone in the continuation toward lower production, but prices remain uncertain.
In the first four months of this year, beef production was down by five percent, with slaughter numbers down seven percent but market weights up two percent. The reduction is the result of a beef cow herd that had been in decline from 2006, reaching its low point in 2014. Expansion of the beef cow herd began in the last-half of 2014 and current indications are that the expansion continues. Producers can increase cow numbers both by retaining heifers and by keeping older cows for another cycle when they normally would have gone to market. Slaughter of females so far this year indicate producers are doing both. Heifer slaughter last year was down eight percent and so far this year heifer slaughter remains down seven percent. Beef cow slaughter in 2014 was down 18 percent and remains down 17 percent so far this year. While these producer behaviors will build the beef cow herd and eventually increase beef production, the impact for this year is to pull down beef production.
Meat availability per person had fallen by about 20 pounds from 2007 to 2014, but is making a sharp comeback in 2015. Current USDA estimates are that per capita meat availability could surge by nearly nine pounds this year. Chicken and turkey lead the way with over five pounds of increase and pork adds an impressive increase of near four pounds per person. This means that the meat industry in one year has restored about 45 percent of the lost meat availability from 2007 to 2014. The impacts of avian influenza will likely reduce poultry meat production in 2015, but are not included here.
The recent Cattle on Feed report from USDA also shows some of the adjustments the beef industry is making. The number of heifers in feedlots as of April 1 was down 10 percent from previous year levels, most likely confirming a high rate of heifer retention for herd expansion. Secondly, as a result of record high calf prices and weak live cattle futures prices, fewer lightweight calves are moving to feedlots as producers keep those calves on forage diets and background them for longer. The number of calves under 700 pounds entering feedlots in March was down 11 percent, but the number over 800 pounds was up 16 percent. In fact, 40 percent of all placements in March were older calves that were 800 pounds and higher. Improved pasture conditions in the Central and Southern Plains provides some of the explanation, but there were also reports of calves staying on winter wheat pasture further into the spring this year.
What are the implications for cattle prices this year? First, a review of the unusual year of 2014 when finished steers averaged a record high $155 per hundredweight. The normal seasonal price pattern for finished cattle is to peak in late March or early April, then move lower into mid-to-late summer, with a rally into the end of the year. In 2014 finished steer prices began the year at $140 and pretty much moved higher throughout the year peaking above $170 in late-November. So far this year, finished steers have averaged $161.50 compared with $146 for the same period in 2014.
Live cattle futures are suggesting a return to a more normal seasonal price pattern this year. Peak finished steer prices in 2015 to-date came in early April in the mid-$160s and have declined since. The futures tone stays weak through summer with prices falling to the middle $140s by the end of summer and then rallying to the low $150s toward the end of the year. With prices so far this year and futures estimates for the remainder of the year, finished steers would average $153, a couple of dollars lower than 2014.
USDA forecasters in the April 9 WASDE report have taken a much more bullish path with $163.50 at the mid-point of their annual estimated range. Also of note is that USDA analysts increased the potential range of prices as the year progresses. One reason to increase a price forecast range is because of greater uncertainty. Ultimately, prices may be somewhere between these two. Current high $150s prices could drop to the very low $150s by late summer and recover to the mid-$150s by the end of the year, with annual prices near last year's $155. One thing seems certain -- 2014 was an extraordinary year for the animal industries. So comparing this year's prices to last year's prices may bring inherent dangers. But, the beef industry is the only one which will not increase production this year and therefore has a reasonable chance of seeing annual price averages near 2014 levels.
The wide difference of opinions about cattle prices for the remainder of this year point out the large price risks for cattle finishers. Cattle feeders already have record amounts of money invested in the cattle in their feedlots. Even with the lowest feed prices in five years, they are vulnerable to weak live cattle prices as the futures market is currently suggesting. Feedlot managers should strive to price calves based on budgets using current futures prices and then should look to hedge those cattle with either futures or put options. If feedlot managers find themselves bidding so much for calves that they have to have a sizable rally in the live cattle futures to cover costs, they may want to re-think buying the calves in the first place.
Premium Beef Markets, Let's Plan for the Future - Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center Director
We celebrate Beef Month with near record highs of cattle and the beef product values. We have been accustomed to strong consumer demand and near shortages in fed beef supplies. This has led to increased carcass weights to make up for supply shortfalls and a resultant trend in carcass quality with the percent of cattle grading USDA Choice and Prime at historic levels. This trend will likely continue until beef cow and feeder cattle numbers are rebuilt and supplies of cattle on feed increase.
Even though this short cattle supply may be with us for some time, preparing for a more discriminating market may be a good plan. As supplies increase, look for buyers to exercise more scrutiny in sourcing their beef supplies. This could be in the form of additional premiums and discounts in grid and formula marketed cattle. It could also involve more premiums offered for verified programs that differentiate cattle based on production processes, genetics or other practices.
In addition to market demand changes for quality that will require potential adjustments in genetics, management or marketing, there are other trends that are worth watching that could impact market programs. One example is the consumers' growing curiosity about where their food comes from and how it is raised.
Documentation of animal care is a growing trend. For example, Tyson, with their Farm Check program may be the first of several buyers that will require training in Beef Quality Assurance and/or audits of animal care and handling. McDonalds plans to source verified sustainable beef by 2016. The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef has established principles and criteria that will define sustainable beef production. The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef will establish benchmarks and verification. Following this process may help producers maintain continued market access. Natural programs that require verification of the use of specific production practices or the non-use of certain technologies are growing.
So, what can help you today to prepare to capture more value in the future? Records. Establishing a record keeping system that allows you to document production practices, animal care and resource use will give you a start on any verification program that might be required to access a specific market or capture a premium. Written standard operating procedures may be required for some activities. Also, having a good handle on production costs and inputs will help you evaluate the necessary premiums needed to reduce or eliminate technologies to fit a specific verified program.
Of course record keeping isn't necessarily a favorite activity of many beef producers. However, the good news is that the rapidly changing world of electronic technology is making this easier. Tablet and smartphone apps are being developed and soon the "internet of things" may automate some of this record keeping.
The beef consumer is changing and along with this change will come changes in the markets. Watching these trends and building the capacity to react will help prepare you for the future. For now, take advantage of the good prices and throw some of those Choice and Prime steaks on the grill. It is Beef Month, you know.
Visit the OSU Beef Team calendar of meetings and upcoming events
BEEF Cattle is a weekly publication of Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County and the OSU Beef Team. Contributors include members of the Beef Team and other beef cattle specialists and economists from across the U.S.
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