Heavy feeders gain value: Retain through stocker phase?

Cattle feeders liking bigger calves, creates opportunities for cow-calf and stocker operators to add value.

Published on: Aug 22, 2016

The value of heavy feeder cattle versus lighter feeders has been growing the past couple months for several reasons.

One reason is the desire by feedlots to turn over cattle more quickly, says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University extension livestock marketing specialist. He adds that higher value on heavier cattle suggest cow-calf operators may want to retain ownership through the stocker phase to add income. Read_more

Drought Disaster Declaration

On August 25, 2016 Secretary Vilsack designated 15 counties in New York as primary natural disaster areas due to the drought.  The primary counties under this designation are:
Cayuga, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wyoming, Yates.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of (1) D2 (Drought-Severe) for eight or more consecutive weeks, (2) D3 (Drought-Extreme), or D4 (Drought-Exceptional).
There are nine counties named as contiguous disaster counties under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.  These counties are: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Cortland, Onondaga, Orleans, Oswego, Wayne.
A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met.  This assistance includes FSA emergency loans.  Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.  Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.  To find your local FSA office, visit www.fsa.usda.gov.

Source: Farm Bureau Alert, August 29, 2016, info@nyfb.org.

Fall will continue warm but wet

I know that the severity of the drought across the state ranges from “What drought?” to “Extreme” (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?NY). For those needing rain the most recent Extended Weather Outlook from CattleFax shows warm wet weather through mid-Fall. They predict “temperatures to +2F through mid-fall; precipitation rising to 120% of normal by early fall.”

Drought affected corn – feed alternative?

Value of alternative feeds: corn silage
Michael J. Baker PhD
Cornell University Beef Extension Specialist

Corn silage without ears
In certain areas of the state, corn that was planted for grain, has not had enough moisture to pollinate, or if pollinated will not fill adequately to justify harvest. For cattle producers this may be a source of feed. Corn without ears that is ensiled is similar to grass hay though lower in protein. Read More.

10 beef cattle to-dos if drought spreads into fall

Stock Notes: Plan and prep now with these 10 pointers for more drought if a weak La Nina develops this fall.

Published on: Aug 11, 2016, Farm Progress Wallaces Farmer, http://farmprogress.com/wallaces-farmer, by Dave Nanda

Agriculture owes its existence to a few inches of topsoil and those once-in-a-while rainfalls. Unfortunately, that “once in a while” also includes “here and there” in the Northeast this year.

Rainfall has been spotty all across the region. Here in central Pennsylvania, you can hear a lot of “music” from cows who are not happy with the pasture situation.

Continued dry weather could have a major impact on silage and grain yields. Obviously, prospects for later hay cuttings are bleak without a major change to wet weather early this fall.

Forecasters are predicting a weak La Niña to develop late this fall and into the winter. If that happens, drought is likely to return to a large portion of cow country. Beef producers should plan and prep now for that possibility. So consider these 10 drought management pointers:

  1. Estimate your winter feed shortfall; cover it now. Purchase winter feedstuffs as soon as possible before prices rise as the drought worsens or winter sets in. One of the benefits of “spotty rainfall” is a neighbor a few miles away may have good yields and excess feedstuffs available. It may be possible to buy your needs right out of a nearby field — often your cheapest option. If possible, obtain a feed nutrient analysis so you know the quality before writing the check!
  2. Avoid overgrazing during drought. Careful stocking in normal precipitation years leaves a forage reserve that helps maintain pasture productivity during a drought. Overgrazing during and after a drought only delays pasture recovery. In some cases, it can permanently impair land productivity.
  3. Watch younger animals closely. Replacement heifers, bulls and first-calf heifers have a higher nutrient demand than mature cows. They should be grazed and fed separately and provided supplemental feed to keep them growing if needed.
  4. Increase your culling pressure. If you haven’t already done so, have the herd pregnancy-checked, and then cull all open and problem cows. When feed supplies are short, it doesn’t make sense to give a problem animal “one more chance.” Try to avoid the usual cull cow marketing time. Prices usually are at seasonal lows in October and November.
  5. Consider creep feeding. If grain prices are reasonable compared to forage prices, it may pay to take some pressure off the cows by creep-feeding calves.
  6. Weigh early weaning. Nutritional requirements of the lactating cow are high. Removing her calf will allow her to get by on less forage. But resist the temptation to sell early-weaned calves too soon at unprofitably light weights.
  7. Keep and winter-feed those calves. It sounds contradictory, but under certain circumstances it may be profitable to retain ownership and feed those calves through winter. The best course may be to not “follow the herd” and do what everybody else is doing, especially if unusually large numbers of calves to go to market in your area. Feed grain prices may be reasonable over the coming winter, especially with a large national crop. You may be able to ship in and feed corn, and then sell calves later at an increased profit.
  8. Watch for alternative forage sources. Potential feed sources might include Conservation Reserve Program land released for emergency grazing or hay production. Corn that’s severely stunted and not worth the cost of harvesting might be available for grazing. Corn harvested for grain might also be available for stalk grazing. Byproduct and commodity feeds are another option in many areas.
  9. Minimize feed wastes. When large hay packages are fed unprotected on the ground, losses can exceed 35% to 40%. Use a well-designed hay feeder.
  10. Carefully monitor cow body condition score. You can’t afford to let cows get too thin. Poor condition may not seem to affect a dry cow much this fall, but it will cost you dearly as calving approaches with weak calves and failure to return to heat. You’ll never “starve a profit out of them.” Crop insurance is a risk management tool to help cover extra feed costs in event of drought. But if you don’t have it, it won’t be of help this time around. And you may end up paying more for extra feed than it would have cost.

How retained beef calf ownership pencils out
When evaluating whether to retain ownership or sell weaned calves, value of that extra gain is a key factor. It’s calculated simply as the difference in final versus initial value of the animal, divided by the pounds of weight gain. Consider this example of a 650-pound steer that will be grown to reach 850 pounds by winter’s end.

  • Initial value: 650-pound steer at $1.35 per pound = $877.50
    • Final value: 850-pound steer at $1.20 per pound = $1,020
    • Difference in value: $142.50
    • Weight gain: 200 pounds
    • Value of gain: $142.50 divided by 200 pounds = 71 cents a pound

So, if you can put on, say 4 pounds average daily gain for less than $2.84 a day, retained ownership could be a viable option. Remember to include all costs such as labor and housing, not just feed.

Dr. Harold Harpster is a beef cow-calf producer and retired Penn State animal scientist.

For more resources go to http://blogs.cornell.edu/beefcattle/producer-resources/.


Grass Finishing Beef Field Day to be held August 25, 2016

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, in partnership with the Watershed Agricultural Council, will be hosting a field day looking at pasture forage production as it relates to animal performance.  The focus will be on grass finishing beef.  The event starts at 2:00 pm on Thursday, August 25 at Squan Farm (Ron Cieri), 931 Davis Road, East Meredith, New York.

The afternoon will consist of three presentations:

  • At 2:45, Dr. Mike Baker, Cornell Beef Cattle Extension Specialist will speak on “Beef Nutrition from Weaning to Finishing for Grass-fed Cattle”. He will cover the basics of nutrition for the steer or heifer that is being fed a forage only (no grain) diet and will focus on energy, protein, and minerals from weaning to finish.
  • At 3:30, Josh Lucas of Lucas Cattle Company will speak on “From Conception to Weaning—Management Choices that Result in Calves that Perform on Grass. Josh will share his years of experience producing calves that finish well on grass.  He will discuss his genetics, cow management strategies, and weaning process and how those choices result in weaned calves that perform on grass.
  • At 4:15, Rich Toebe, Delaware County Extension Livestock Educator and Jim Ingram, Manager of Squan Farm will report on their “Grazing Study” on the farm. This on-going study has been collecting weekly forage samples and periodic steer weights throughout the 2016 grazing season.  Estimated performance is compared to actual weight gains.  Data on two finishing groups is being collected:  rotationally grazed versus set stocked.

Squan Farm and Adirondack Grazers Cooperative are providing a meal featuring grass-fed hamburgers from the farm at 5:00 pm.

Following the meal, participants will look at some forage plots that have grass at various maturities.  Predicted average daily weight gains will be posted at these plots allowing the participants to connect information shared earlier in the day with how it looks as standing forage in a pasture.  The field day will conclude with a walk of the pastures where the research is taking place.

There is no cost to attend.  To guarantee yourself a meal and materials, you must register by 4:30 pm, Monday, August 22 by calling Kim Holden at 607 865-7090 or emailing at kmh19@cornell.edu   A brochure with more information can be found at www.ccedelaware.org