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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
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Previous issues of the BEEF Cattle letter
Issue # 714
December 8, 2010
The Cheapest Mineral Isn't - Francis L. Fluharty, Ph.D., Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University
The major nutritional requirements are: water, energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. In many cases, beef producers do a good job of providing adequate water, energy, and protein. However, many beef producers buy 'cheap' minerals, ignoring the fact that the availability of the minerals in the oxide form in many of these mixes are only 10 to 20% as absorbable by the animal as the sulfate, chloride, or organic or chelated, forms (when minerals are metals bound to an organic compound such as an amino acid such as in zinc methionine or organic selenium in selenomethionine) (Spears, 2003) in more expensive mineral mixes. The advantage of more available forms of minerals are seen when stress increases.
Consider the fact that weather can be a stress, whether it's extreme heat or cold, and that working cattle at breeding, vaccination, and weaning can be stressors. So, why do so many producers buy minerals that don't provide the best nutrition to the animal when they need it most, and buy the cheapest mineral instead? In many cases, it's because we think in terms of tons rather than days, and a ton of mineral seems expensive relative to a ton of hay, but not when you consider that a ton of mineral with an anticipated intake of 4 oz per day will provide feed for 8,000 animal days.
I can't imagine a beef producer going to their truck dealership and asking for the truck with the least power when it's under a load, or asking for the truck with the weakest transmission, but we do this same thing when we buy minerals with the poorest absorption during times of stress, then we buy additional hay, or grain, or treat sick newborn calves, or blame the bull when cows don't breed in a timely manner.
In beef cattle, macro minerals are described as those required at concentrations greater than 100 ppm of the diet and are often expressed as a percentage of the diet. Trace minerals are considered to be those required at concentrations less than 100 ppm (McDowell, 1992; NRC, 1996). Macro minerals include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, and sodium and chloride (salt), whereas the trace minerals include cobalt, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, iron and zinc (NRC, 1996). The most commonly deficient vitamin is vitamin A, as vitamin D is synthesized by cattle exposed to sunlight or fed sun-cured forages, and vitamin E concentrations are high in fresh forages. Rumen microflora synthesize B- vitamins in sufficient quantities, and B-vitamin supplementation is not normally needed. It is important to remember, however, that the most important nutrient is the one that is missing or deficient, and in the case of nutrient imbalances, there can be more than one! Magnesium and the trace minerals copper and manganese are all co-factors in the cow's energy producing metablolic pathways, and deficiencies can limit energy production and utilization at the tissue level.
For instance, if a mineral is $1200 per ton, it seems like a lot of money so producers tend to purchase the cheapest mineral possible. However, at a 4 ounce per day intake, the mineral only costs $.15 per day ($1200 divided 2000 pounds = $.60 per pound x .25 [4 ounces = 1/4 pound] = $.15 per day). The cost of really good mineral nutrition is only $54.75 per animal per year (365 days × $.15 per day)! Well, does that pay?
Let's assume that the price of a feeder calf is $1.10 per pound. If the cow's nutritional status is insufficient, and she does not breed on her first estrus, it will be 21 days before she can breed. Normally, calves should gain approximately 2.5 pounds per day from birth to weaning at 205 days. Remember that most operations wean their calves on one day. Therefore, losing 21 days on a calf's age costs around 52.5 pounds (21 days × 2.5 pounds per day). At $1.10 per pound, that's $57.75, or $3.00 more than the cow's entire mineral nutrition cost for the entire year!
Furthermore, many producers supplement their cows with distillers grains, or corn. If dry distillers grains (DDG) are $175 per ton, that's $.0875 per pound ($175/ton divided 2000 lb/ton), and if corn is $5.60 per bushel, it costs $.10 per pound ($5.60/bu divided 56 lb/bu). If a producer supplements their cows with 5 pounds of distillers grains, or corn, for 60 days in late gestation and early lactation in order to keep body condition in the 5.0 to 5.5 range, it would cost $.4375 per day for DDG, and $.50 per day for corn. That's $26.25 for DDG, and $30 for corn, and that doesn't include the cost, and time, involved with transportation and feeding.
Still, this doesn't even take into account the number of calves that are born weak, or the fact that the quality of colostrum is impacted by nutrition. Why not feed a mineral mix that improves the entire management of the cow herd, allows the cow to take advantage of improvements in body condition throughout the summer and fall, and improves her ability to deliver a live calf and then re-breed in a timely manner.
Producers could reduce energy and protein supplementation costs, reduce the average number of days from calving to re-breeding, reduce the number of calves treated for illness due to poor immunity early in life, and increase the total pounds of calves weaned and whole-herd profitability potential, and focus more time on management. A significant portion of this winter's 2011 Ohio Beef Cattle School will focus on cow nutrition during late gestation through rebreeding, including the importance of mineral nutrition. Find more details below.
2011 Ohio Beef Cattle School begins February 3
Plans are nearly complete for the 5-session Ohio Beef Cattle School for 2011, which will be made available similarly to those done the past couple of years. However, this year in an effort to reach more cattlemen and extend limited resources, speakers will be live at several locations, but broadcast using webex technology to any other County Extension office locations wishing to host them. Participants will see and follow the presenter's power point slides and hear their voice and will have the opportunity to ask questions from the presenter at each host site while the presenter is physically present at only one site.
Topics that will be covered during the 5-session school, along with the presenter include:
* February 3: New Technologies and Strategies in Cow Reproduction - Dr. Mike Day, Ohio State University
* February 10: Mineral Nutrition for the Cowherd - Dr. Francis Fluharty, Ohio State University
* February 17: Third Trimester Nutrition and Fetal Programming - Dr. Francis Fluharty
* February 24: Best Management Practices, and Adjusting Management to Match Markets and Economic Conditions - Dr. Francis Fluharty
* March 3: Realities of Cattle Marketing- Dan Frobose, Ohio State University Extension and Animal Welfare Audits - Dr. Henry Zerby, Ohio State University
Each one of these topics will impact the bottom line of any cattle operation. Some of the recent research being done with third trimester nutrition and what is being termed fetal programming is very interesting and has significant management implications for the cow herd.
The dates are set as indicated above. All sessions will be held on 5 consecutive Thursday evenings beginning on February 3. Each session will start promptly at 7:00 pm.
Thus far, arrangements have been made to host each program in:
Athens County, contact Rory Lewandowski for details.
Brown County, contact Dave Dugan for details.
Butler County, contact Cindy Meyer for details.
Fairfield County, contact Stan Smith for details.
Gallia County, contact Richard Stephens for details.
Hocking County, contact Jim Skeeles for details.
Holmes County, contact Kate Shumaker for details.
Jackson Station, OARDC, contact Kenny Wells for details.
Knox County, contact Troy Cooper for details.
Loran County, contact Frances Harker for details.
Morgan County, contact Chris Penrose for details.
Morrow County, contact Jeff McCutcheon for details.
Perry County, contact Ted Wiseman for details.
Portage County, contact Heather Neikirk for details.
Tuscarawas County, contact Chris Zoller for details.
Union County, contact Jon Rausch for details.
Washington County, contact Eric Barrett for details.
Williams County, contact Florian Chirra for details.Contact the site of your choice listed above for more specific details regarding that location, or you may contact Stan Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information regarding the Ohio Beef School.
Forage Focus: 2010 Forage Performance Trials - Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist
The 2010 Forage Performance Trial Results are available online at http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~perf/. The report summarizes data on commercial varieties of alfalfa, red clover, white clover and tall fescue in tests planted in 2008 to 2010 across three sites in Ohio (South Charleston, Wooster, and North Baltimore). Alfalfa varieties in established stands ranged in 2010 yield from 5 to 9 tons of dry matter per acre and in a spring seeding from 2 to 3 tons per acre. Alfalfa varieties with resistance to potato leafhopper yielded 7 to 19% more than the susceptible check varieties in an unsprayed (no insecticide) trial across three years of data. Tall fescue varieties ranged in 2010 yield from 4.7 to 5.3 tons per acre. Red and white clover trials were seeded in 2010 at South Charleston. The reported yield of red and white clover varieties was low because the first-harvest yields were not included due to a weed infestation during establishment. Dry weather also had a major impact on subsequent summer harvesting; however, good stands were established.
In The Cattle Markets: Let's Get Ready To Rumble - John Michael Riley, Ph.D., Asst. Extension Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University and John D. Anderson, Ph.D., Livestock Economist American Farm Bureau Federation
Unlike one year ago when many row crop producers in the Southeast were trying to dig themselves out of the mud while producers in the Northern Plains were bracing for a winter blast - both of which delayed harvest in each region. This year has been relatively calm and harvest progressed at a more normal pace if not ahead of schedule in many locations. So, with that in mind the discussion now turns to next year's acreage and the competition for acres looked to be fierce in early- to mid-November when corn, soybean and cotton prices were soaring. All have come down since but the competition still looks to be brutal. As evidenced in November's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, corn carry-over fell further below one billion bushels and soybean carry-over moved closer to the previous year's as opposed to early projections of near double year-over-year ending stocks. Wheat acres look to provide about 5.5 million acres of possible wiggle room. However, to further complicate things, cotton prices made a valiant run for acres and still remain somewhat competitive despite a recent drop off in harvest futures prices. Granted, cotton does not pose as serious a threat as soybeans or wheat, but when many acres are needed to refill empty bins each one counts.
Total acreage devoted to summer crops reached a high of 244 million acres in 1980 (dating back to 1950). That number has since dropped to about 215 to 220 million acres and corn and soybeans account for about 70% of that acreage over the past 10 years. Typically, the soybean:corn harvest futures price ratio at planting decision time (here we assume March 1 price of the December corn and November soybean futures contracts) is between 2.5 and 2.1 (in other words, corn price is usually at a 53% to 60% discount to soybean price). As this ratio favors corn, corn acres typically increase and vice versa (see figure 1). Since early 2000, though, this relationship has begun to break as years of lower corn price relative to soybeans has not led to lower corn acreage (the other occurrence was in the late 1970's during the export-led grain price boom). In 2007 the relationship was much in favor of corn and the acreage response was overwhelming - a record 93.5 million acres planted to corn. However, the following year saw a ratio of 2.5 (signifying relatively higher soybean prices) and corn acres remained strong at just under 86 million.
The current harvest contract price ratio of corn and soybeans is at 2.22. Based on this and recent trends it is likely corn will maintain its foothold on acres but will it be enough? If we return to the record 2007 level of 93.5 million acres, with the average rate of abandonment of 9.5%, that leaves 85.5 million acres harvested. Using an above trend yield of 165 bu/ac (the 2009 record yield) that equates to 14.16 billion bushels (bbu) of production and 14.95 total supply based on current carry-over projection and consistent imports. There is no denying that the fed cattle supply is shrinking and thus less corn will be needed for feed but with current and pending regulations (e.g., a scheduled increase in the Renewable Fuels Standard mandate) ethanol use most likely will be higher. With feed use at 2008 and 2009 levels of 5.1 bbu and ethanol use increased to 5.1 bbu as well (a 6% increase from 2010) - along with relatively consistent other 'food, seed and industrial' and export use - total corn use would come in around 13.6 bbu. This replenishes stocks only slightly to 1.35 bbu of carry-over. So, this purely hypothetical (but largely optimistic) exercise indicates that the tight corn supply situation will not go away anytime soon.
Cattle Outlook, December 3, 2010 - Ron Plain, Ag Economics, Missouri University
The U.S. economy added fewer jobs than expected during November and the unemployment rate climbed to 9.8%, the highest in seven months. This is not good news for meat demand. Retail meat prices have been fairly high in recent months, not because of strong demand, but because of small supplies. Per capita meat consumption in 2010 is expected to be the lowest since 1997. Per capita meat supplies are expected to drop another 1.7 pounds in 2011. This should hold up meat prices at the expense of a smaller livestock industry. The 2010 cattle herd is the smallest since 1959. USDA is forecasting 2011 per capita beef consumption at 57.8 pounds of retail weight, the lowest since 1952.
The amount of beef in cold storage at the end of October was up 1.3% from the month before, but down 6.0% compared to a year earlier. The frozen beef stocks were the lowest for any October since 2003. Pork and turkey stocks in cold storage were both down from 12 months earlier, but frozen broiler stocks were up 15%.
The boxed beef cutout rose this week. On Friday morning the choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $1.6402/pound, up 2.3 cents for the week. The select cutout was up 0.67 cents from the previous Friday to $1.53.01 per pound. The choice-select price spread has reached 10 cents per pound several times in recent days for the first time since December 2008.
Fed cattle prices were higher this week. The 5-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers sold through Thursday of this week on a live weight basis was $102.62/cwt, up $1.69 from a week earlier. Steers sold on a dressed weight basis this week averaged $164.29/cwt, $4.32 higher than the week before. These are the highest prices in 7 years. This week last year slaughter steer prices averaged $81.62/cwt live and $130.03/cwt dressed.
This week's cattle slaughter totaled 679,000 head, up 16.7% from Thanksgiving week and up 6.4% compared to the same week last year. This was the 21st consecutive week with cattle slaughter above the year-earlier level.
Steer carcass weights averaged 851 pounds during the week ending November 20. That was down 6 pounds from the week before and 2 pounds lighter than a year ago. It appears that feed yards are current in their marketings.
Cash bids for feeder cattle this week were mostly steady to $2 higher with instances of $6 higher. Oklahoma City prices were steady to $2 higher with price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers were: 400-450# $142.50-$155, 450-500# $138-$149.50, 500-550# $131-$141, 550-600# $124.50-$131.75, 600-650# $115.75-$125.25, 650-700# $116-$122, 700-750# $112-$120.25, 750-800# 115-$118.75, and 800-1000# $108.25-$114.75/cwt.
The December fed cattle futures contract ended the week at $103.17/cwt, up 95 cents from a week ago. The February contracted closed out the week at $106.37/cwt and April settled at $109.10/cwt.
Cattle Market Signals Become More Pronounced - Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist
If allowed to work freely, markets will provide whatever signals are needed to take care of any market situation. Right now, cattle markets are providing increasingly dramatic signals to address several needs in the industry. Cattle and beef markets across the board have jumped sharply in the past two weeks and both Live Cattle and Feeder Cattle futures prices suggest that we are in for an extended period of largely unprecedented cattle prices.
The signals are quite obvious. Calf prices will go higher and higher until there is sufficient incentive to increase cow-calf production. The predicament that we find ourselves in now is that current feeder values are very high and going higher, which makes it difficult to retain heifers and yet we have to push calf prices overall high enough to make the value of future production enough to encourage heifer retention. This process is typical of every cattle cycle but never before have we been in such limited numbers that the tradeoff was quite so dramatic.
The other prevailing signal is the need to reduce use of expensive feed grains and thus to encourage more forage based gains. Thus, despite very high prices especially for calves, the value of additional weight gain continues to be very strong, encouraging more weight gain outside of feedlots. This stocker value of gain only occurs at heavy feeder weights as there is a steep rollback in prices for feeders up to 600 pounds.
The final incentive is that enhanced cow-calf values and enhanced stocker values make forage worth more. This has implications on the general value of forage for both rangeland and improved pasture areas and has specific regional implications. Enhanced pasture value suggests increased forage production but most of the discretionary pasture areas also compete with enhanced crop values thereby limiting forage expansion. In areas like the Southeast, high fuel prices add an additional shipping disadvantage to cattle production in that region. In contrast, cattle production in the Western Great Plains and Intermountain Rockies clearly have a relative regional advantage in cattle production. These regional adjustments are long term in nature. Over time, we will likely see feedlot production shift marginally back to the Midwest and cow-calf and especially stocker production shift marginally more to the Central Plains and Rocky Mountain regions.
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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