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OSU Extension BEEF Team
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Previous issues of the BEEF Cattle letter
Issue # 697
August 4, 2010
Grazing Bites, August 2010 - Victor Shelton, NRCS Grazing Specialist
You can count on one thing in Indiana and probably most of the Midwest; if you don't like the weather, wait a little while and it will probably change. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote in my pocket calendar that it was 59 degrees that morning, a bit warmer this time around. The rainfall has not been exactly evenly distributed around the state again this year, but when is it? Like normal, areas range from an abundance to lacking. It is probably a really good thing that we can't control the weather.
One thing we can control is how we manage our pastures. Remember, those cows, goats, sheep, etc., are all working tools just like the mower and baler, just a heck of lot more efficient. Especially when we are in normally drier months, we need to really try and make sure that we don't let the animals overgraze the pastures. I know that is easier said than done some years, but under really dry conditions, you are better off feeding hay and protecting pastures that will eventually rebound than doing potentially enough damage to require pasture reseeding. Most tall cool-season grasses need a minimum of 3-4 inches of growth left after grazing to sustain them, protect the soil from erosion and to maintain density. Lack of density and cover quite often leads to very weedy fields.
We are now getting into a prime time to reseed or establish new pastures. Early August to mid September is an excellent time to be planting cool-season grasses and getting enough good growth on them to guarantee them to survive the coming winter months. One of the advantages of seeding this time of year is lower competition from weeds as compared to a spring seeding. We also generally start with drier conditions which "normally" improve as time goes by. Later plantings do work some years but are little more precarious in outcome. If you are waiting for a row crop to be harvested prior to seeding something, then time is not always on your side depending on the harvest date. Tall fescues and timothy probably handle being seeded the latest, but may require a nurse crop to survive some years.
I often hear the question about what to plant. For most operations, you just can't beat a tall cool-season grass for quality and yield. I certainly favor late maturing orchardgrass varieties which do a pretty good job of delaying seed head development as compared to earlier "hay type" varieties such as Potomac. In fact, with good grazing management early in the season, I've seen some extremely low seed head production in some cases the entire season. The improved varieties of tall fescues should also be considered. They are not like Kentucky 31, with its associated negative endophyte problems, but rather either very low endophyte or endophyte friendly. The novel endophyte friendly tall fescue is just as vigorous and high yielding, if not higher, than old Kentucky 31, but does not have the problems caused by the alkaloids associated with the endophyte fungus in Kentucky 31. Now, don't think that all endophyte associations are bad, quite the opposite, the relationship between the grass and the endophyte fungus that resides there benefits the plant provides such things as drought tolerance, increased yield and insect and possibly some disease control. Most lawn type grasses are bred to have very high levels of endophyte fungus just for those some reasons. The endophyte fungus associated with the endophyte friendly fescue is animal "friendly", hence the name.
I'm getting off track here . . . if you are interested in a forage that will stockpile for winter months, especially into late winter, nothing stockpiles better than tall fescue and that even goes for old Kentucky 31 with some extra management. As far as Kentucky 31 goes, you "might" be able to live with it, but I would not plant it, there are lot better choices out there now.
There are also fine leaf fescues available that are excellent forage for dairies, or any grazing livestock, providing very good energy and highly digestible fiber. The fine leaf fescues are a lot more winter hardy and persistent than perennial ryegrasses though they too have had lots of improvements the past few years and are now doing better in warmer areas.
The forages that you chose to plant should match a few conditions including soils they will be grown on, climate or plant hardiness zone, to what degree they will be managed (some certainly take more management than others), the livestock needs that will be consuming it and use (grazing, haying, stockpiling, etc).
Don't put all your eggs in one basket if you are considering replanting fields, do one or two fields at a time knowing that these new fields will need some time to establish prior to any grazing and grazed carefully first time over them and then buy yourself some time to evaluate the forage you chose.
I'll take an inch of rain every Saturday night; keep on grazing!
Forage Focus: NOW is the Right Time for Summer Seeding of Forages - Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist
We are now in the prime time frame for late summer seeding of forage crops. This is true whether you are establishing new stands or need to seed in bare or thin spots in stands established earlier this year. The following highlights key management steps toward successful establishment of forages this summer.
1. Apply lime and fertilizer according to a soil test. Since the stand will be used for several years, ideally the soil test should have been taken within the past year.
2. Control problem perennial weeds ahead of seeding. Be careful with herbicide selection because some have residual soil activity and will harm new forage seedings if proper waiting periods are not observed. Be sure to read the labels of any herbicides being considered.
3. Plant new perennial forage stands as soon as possible in August. Seedlings require at least 6 to 8 weeks of growth after emergence to have adequate vigor for winter survival. In northern Ohio, plant during the first two weeks of August. In southern Ohio, plant by August 30. Later planting may work, but there is greater risk for failure and the stand may have lower yield potential next year. The new stand should have six to eight inches of growth before a killing frost. Slow establishing species should be planted as early as possible. Fast establishing species like red clover, alfalfa, and orchardgrass can be seeded up to the dates listed above if moisture is present. Kentucky bluegrass and timothy can actually be seeded 15 days later than the dates listed above.
4. It is risky to place seeds into dry soil - there may be just enough moisture to germinate the seed but not enough to get the seeding established. Either plant soon after a rain when soil moisture is adequate, or when a good rain system is in the forecast.
5. No-till seedings conserve moisture and can be very successful provided weeds are controlled prior to seeding. Remove all straw from fields previously planted to small grains. Any remaining stubble should either be left standing, or clipped and removed. Do not leave clipped stubble in fields because it will form a dense mat that prevents good emergence.
6. If you are going to use tillage, don't over-till and be sure to prepare a firm seedbed. Loose seedbeds dry out very quickly. Deep tillage is not ideal for late summer seedings. A cultipacker or cultimulcher is an excellent last-pass tillage tool. The soil should be firm enough that the your boot leaves a print no deeper than 3/8 inch (you can bounce a basketball on it).
7. Plant the seed shallow (1/4 to 1/2 inch deep) and in firm contact with the soil. Carefully check seeding depth, especially when using a no-till drill. A drill with press wheels provides the greatest success with summer seeding. Broadcasting seed on the surface without good soil coverage and without firm packing is usually a recipe for failure in the summer.
8. Use high quality seed of known forage-type varieties from reputable dealers. Cheap seed often results in lower yield and shorter stand life. Check out our variety performance trials and those of neighboring states at the following websites:
9. Make sure legume seed has fresh inoculum of the proper rhizobium to ensure nitrogen fixation. If the seed is pre-inoculated, check with the seed supplier to ensure the seed was stored under conditions that guarantees viable inoculant.
10. If planting alfalfa, don't plant new alfalfa immediately after an older established alfalfa stand. Autotoxic compounds are released by old alfalfa plants, which inhibit growth and productivity of new alfalfa seedlings. You can seed in alfalfa in late summer to thicken up a new alfalfa seeding that was made this spring. The autotoxic compounds are not present in young alfalfa plants. They are released from older, established alfalfa plants.
11. As the stand develops this fall, do not be tempted to harvest it. No matter how much growth accumulates, it is usually best to let the cover protect the new crowns during the winter. The only exception to the no fall harvest rule for late summer seedings is perennial ryegrass. If perennial ryegrass has tillered and has more than six inches of growth in late fall, clip it back to 3 to 4 inches in November or early December. Finally, scout new seedings for winter annual weeds in October. Apply herbicides as needed. Winter annual weeds are much easier to control in late fall than they will be next spring.
By following these guidelines, and with a little cooperation from the weather, I trust you will have a vigorous and productive new forage stand next year that should yield the same as if it had been planted this past spring.
Manure Science Review
The 2010 Manure Science Review will take place on Thursday, August 19th in Putnam County starting with educational sessions in the Continental American Legion Hall at 9:00 a.m. The morning topics and speakers at the Legion Hall include:
* Lake Erie Phosphorus (P) Task Force Kevin Elder, Livestock Environmental Permitting Program, Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).
* Lake Erie EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) Mark Scarpitti, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA.
* Control Structures for Managing Nutrients Larry Brown, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and OSU Extension.
* Nitrification Inhibitors Robert Mullen, OARDC and OSU Extension.
* Manure Plot Study Results Glen Arnold, OSU Extension, and Albert Maag, Putnam Soil and Water Conservation District.
The afternoon portion of the Manure Science Review will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the farm of Howard and Lois Weller northwest of Continental. This will involve shallow tillage demonstrations, smoking a field tile, viewing working tile control structures, side dressing corn with manure demonstrations and viewing a cover crop demonstration site. Cover crops include various radishes varieties, cereal rye, oats, cow peas, winter peas and AC Greenfix.
Weather permitting, the afternoon sessions will be repeated Thursday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. for anyone unable to attend the day program (no CCA or CLM credits for the evening program).
The full-day program qualifies for five continuing education hours under ODAâ€™s Certified Livestock Manager (CLM) program. Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) credits are also available with 4.5 continuing education units (CEUs) for Soil and Water and 0.5 CEU for Nutrient Management.
Registration costs $25 per person before Aug. 13, $30 afterward, and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Download complete details at http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/ocamm/images/MSR10_brochure.pdf.
Down Go the Cattle Numbers - Again - Chris Hurt, Extension Economist, Purdue University
The nation's beef herd continues to decline. After several years of financial difficulty, producers show no interest in rebuilding the herd. As a result, beef supplies will continue to decline and prices will remain strong for several years to come. On the down side, however, beef consumption per person will lag and other animal species will gain larger market share in coming years, especially chicken.
The USDA estimates that beef cow numbers as of July 1, 2010 dropped to 31.7 million head, a decline of two percent from a year ago. Milk cow numbers were down one percent. Just as importantly, producers reported they were retaining two percent fewer beef heifers to go back into the herds. This seemingly assures that beef cow numbers will continue to drop into early 2011.
Low calf prices and large losses in cattle feeding since 2007 have continued to discourage beef cow expansion. In fact, the poor returns which were driven by much higher feed prices starting in late 2006 and culminating in the recessionary economy in 2009 resulted in an aborted beef expansion cycle. Normally the expansion phase of the beef cycle takes about six years. Beef cow numbers made a low in 2004 and began an expansion in 2005 and 2006. That all changed in 2007 as numbers turned lower. Since 2006, beef cow numbers have dropped by five percent.
The great news is that beef supplies will remain limited in 2010 and 2011. Per capita beef supplies will be down about two percent this year and will fall an additional one percent next year. Smaller available supplies mean that consumers will have to pay more for beef and that cattle prices should remain strong well into the future-perhaps for three to five years.
The unfortunate side of the story is that other meats are going to absorb some of beef's market share. Pork availability per person will be down by nearly five percent this year, but herd expansion is expected to begin very late this year and into early 2011. This means that 2011 pork availability will be up one to two percent, especially late in the year. Of course broilers are the ones that will quickly fill the beef and pork shortfall, with a six percent expansion in available supplies per person this year and a further surge of three percent next year.
The high feed prices and recession were difficult for producers of all species. Total meat and poultry consumption in the U.S. fell from about 222 pounds per person in 2006 to 208 pounds in 2009. The drop in pork consumption was about five percent, chicken consumption was down eight percent, but beef lead the decline with a ten percent reduction. Chicken production will expand this year and next, and pork will be in expansion next year. This leaves only the beef industry with declining numbers and no expansion in sight. Seeing the beef industry move slowly to expansion is not a new concept. The beef cycle normally takes at least ten years and sometimes stretches to 15 years. The feathered industry responds much more rapidly.
Unless feed prices return to much lower levels, it is likely that consumers will eat less red meat and poultry than at the peak in 2006. In order to eventually pass the higher feed prices on to consumers, the animal industry had to suffer large losses and eventually reduce the size of their herds. Once supplies are cut sufficiently, consumers have to pay higher prices for meat and poultry. Given these higher prices, consumers will eat less meat and poultry.
If the long period of increasing consumption of meat and poultry has come to an end, the U.S. market will have limited growth potential in coming years. If that is the case, the domestic market may only grow at about the same rate as the U.S. population, which has been somewhat under one percent a year. The best hope for more rapidly growing meat and poultry demand will probably come from exports. The most robust of that growth will likely be in developing economies.
For the next several years, beef supplies will be small and many people still love beef. This likely means that beef cow ownership will be financially rewarded.
Weekly Roberts Agricultural Commodity Market Report - Mike Roberts, Commodity Marketing Agent, Virginia Tech
LIVE CATTLE futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) closed down on Monday with the exception of the April 2011. The AUG'10LC contract closed at $92.175/cwt; off $0.475/cwt and $0.475/cwt lower than last report. The DEC'10LC contract closed down $0.30/cwt at $95.925/cwt; $0.100/cwt higher than this time last week. The APR'11LC contract closed at $99.475/cwt, up $0.075/cwt. Lower beef prices, profit taking, spreading, slack fund buying, and the lack of packer interest on falling margins pressured prices. Cash cattle last week brought about $93/cwt, off $2/cwt from week before last. USDA's 5-area price was placed at $92.88/cwt, $1.92/cwt lower than this time last week. USDA lowered the choice beef cutout price $1.13/cwt to $150.70/cwt; $1.73/cwt lower than this time last week. Over the last two weeks two large Brazilian meat packers, Frialto with a capacity of 4,000 head, and Frigol in Sao Paulo declared bankruptcy. Brazil is the No. 1 beef exporter in the world. This is seen as positive for U.S. beef exports. However, Australia announced it will increase beef exports to three key customers - Japan, Russia, and South Korea - this year. These are primary U.S. export targets. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average packer margin was lowered $6.55/hd from last week to a negative $11.10/hd based on the average buy of $93.81/cwt vs. the average breakeven of $92.95/cwt.
FEEDER CATTLE at the CME closed down on Monday. AUG'10FC futures closed at $112.600/cwt; off $1.125cwt and $2.350/cwt under last report. The OCT'10FC contract finished off $1.350/cwt at $113.725/cwt; $1.675/cwt higher than last week at this time. Feeders were pressured by lower cash prices, lower fat cattle, fund selling, and by spreading. Lower corn prices didn't help much since they are still high. Hot, dry conditions in the central Plains have cut water supplies and are seen as forcing stocker producers to sell calves earlier than they would like too. Floor traders in Chicago told me they expect stocker buyers to try and take advantage of the situation over the next two weeks with lower cash bids. Estimated receipts on Monday at the Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City were put at 6500 head, vs. 6013 last Monday and 7393 a year ago. Feeder steers were bid $1/cwt lower than last week while heifers were steady to $2/cwt lower. Steer and heifer calves were bid $2-$5/cwt lower. Two buyers in Oklahoma City told me they were more interested in buying the weight rather than the gain but feared buying fleshy claves because they didn't think they could handle the extreme heat and humidity of a stockyard. Demand was considered moderate to good for average to lean feeder cattle and moderate for calves. The CME feeder cattle index was placed at 112.77/lb, 0.13/lb higher than Friday and 0.84/lb over a week ago.
CORN futures on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) closed down from profit taking and hedger selling after being pulled higher by soaring wheat on Monday. The SEPT'10 contract closed at $3.904/bu; down 2.25¢/bu but 26.5¢/bu higher than last report. DEC'10 corn futures closed off 2.25¢/bu at $4.044/bu but 26.5¢/bu higher than last Monday. The DEC'11 contract closed at $4.306/bu; down 2.5¢/bu but 16.25 cents higher than a week ago. Soaring wheat prices on news of drought in Russia, better crude oil and gold prices, as well as a weaker U.S. dollar caused corn prices to soar out of the gate. However, profit-taking by non-commercials, hedge selling by commercials, quick farmer selling, and lower-than-expected exports pressured corn near the close. Funds bought near 8,000 contracts while commercials sold near 12,000 lots. When funds buy or sell it is a measure of money flow into or out of a commodity market. USDA put corn-inspected-for-export at 31.528 mi bu vs. expectations for 38-41 mi bu. USDA did confirm a sale of 232,000 tonnes (9.1 mi bu) of U.S. corn to an undisclosed buyer for 2010/11 delivery. Good crop weather forecast for the U.S. Midwest was a neutral influence today. USDA lowered the good-to-excellent U.S. corn rating by 1% to 71%. Several floor sources said the corn pits considered anticipated this. It is a very, very good idea to get the 2010 crop to 80% priced, as well as advance sales of the 2011 crop to 30% priced.
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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