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Tuesday, October 22, 2019
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The Political Polarization of Meat

This is a venture outside the normal “technical” or “management” theme of this column, but I found the following blog by Jason Lusk, Food and Agricultural Economist, former Professor of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University, and current Department Head for Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, particularly interesting within the context of how political subscription may influence beef demand in the future. I am sharing it in its entirety.

“There is growing criticism of meat production industries in popular culture and mainstream media. Examples include the recent release of the EAT-Lancet report, the World Health Organization pronouncement on red meat and cancer, the proposed Green New Deal and “farting cows,” and much more. The result is an increasing number of news stories linking beef consumption with climate change and other adverse environmental impacts. As shown in this report (co-authored by Glynn Tonsor, Ted Schroeder, and myself), the number of news stories mentioning beef and climate change increased almost 800% since the early 2000s.    

Here’s the thing. We know climate change is a politically polarized issue. Might linking beef and meat consumption to a politically polarized issue in turn cause meat consumption itself to become politically polarized? As I’ve shown in previous posts (e.g., see here or here), self defined political ideology (on a scale of very liberal to very conservative) is one of the strongest predictions of whether someone says they are a vegetarian or vegan.

To investigate this issue, I turned to the body of work that referred to as the Cultural Cognition Project that is most associated with Dan Kahan at Yale. The basic idea is that individuals conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact to values that define their cultural identities (or match their tribe). In one of the most interesting demonstrations of this concept, Kahan shows that the likelihood of agreeing with the statement “There is solid evidence of recent global warming due mostly to human activity such as burning fossil fuels” is increasing in a person’s measured scientific intelligence (essentially a score on a science quiz) but only for people who identify as liberal democrats. For people who identify as conservative republicans, higher scientific intelligence is associated with a reduced likelihood of agreeing with the above sentence. The result is that (unlike what we’d expect if “more education” was the answer), the greatest disagreements are among the most scientifically literate but of opposite political parties. One take home message from these sorts of findings is that the smarter you are, the easier it is to fool yourself.

Ok, back to meat. As readers of this blog likely know, I ran the Food Demand Survey (FooDS), which surveyed 1,000 consumers every month (different samples of consumers were drawn every month) for five years. On the survey, we asked every respondent to answer 9 simulated shopping questions in which they choose between two beef, two pork, two chicken, and two vegetarian meal options at different prices (or a “I wouldn’t buy any of these” option). These data can be used to construct a very simple measure of demand, in which we simply count the number of times (across the nine choices) beef or any meat product was chosen (see this post for some discussion on these data). For reference beef (either ground beef or steak) was chosen about 2.2 times on average across the nine choices and any meat option was chosen a bit less than 7 times on average across the nine choices. (One important note is that despite all the negative news about beef alluded to at the beginning of this post, we do not find overall downward trends in beef demand in recent years; this is also consistent with Tonsor’s demand indices).

The question is how these measures of demand relate to political ideology and education (I use education because, unlike Kahan, I did not ask a scientific intelligence quiz on my surveys). I estimated equations that relate beef or overall meat demand to an extensive set of demographics (age, income, gender, region of residence, household size, etc.), political ideology (I asked both a party affiliation question and a very liberal to very conservative scale from which I create two groups: liberal democrats and conservative republicans), education, a time trend, and interactions between the last three sets of variables. The sample size is about 60,000 observations.

Below is a graphical illustration of the results for beef. Beef demand is higher for conservative republicans than liberal democrats (holding constant all other demographic factors), and this demand gap grows with education. Liberal democrats reduce their demand for beef as their education increases, but for conservative republicans, beef demand is essentially flat across education levels. The other interesting result, shown in the bottom panel, is that beef demand is becoming increasingly politically polarized over time. The beef demand gap between the average conservative republican and liberal democrat is increasing over time.

Below is the same analysis for overall meat demand (beef + pork + chicken). The results here are even stronger. There is very little partisan gap among lower educated liberals and conservatives, but a large gap in meat demand among liberal democrats and conservative republicans who have a graduate degree. The gap results mainly from liberal democrats reducing meat demand as education increases. Again, the partisan gap is growing over time.

What does all this mean? Unfortunately, I suspect it implies conversations about the meat consumption will become more difficult and tumultuous in the coming years. It may also mean that disagreements about the impacts of meat consumption on the environment and health are less likely to be “settled” by science because they are becoming wrapped up in people’s cultural values and tribe identities. Fortunately, there are a number of resources provided via the Cultural Cognition Project that provide insights about effective communication in this polarized world.”

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Find out what is happening in OSU Extension at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Be Aware of Injection Sites When Working Calves

The spring calving season is winding down and the cows are chasing the flush of green grass. Calves will soon, if they are not already, be sticking their muzzles to the ground to supplement mother’s milk with the nutritious new forage growth. The months of April and May are traditionally the time when “spring round-ups” take place. This is the time that large and small cow/calf operations schedule the “working” of the calves. As the majority of the calves reach their second month of life, it is time to castrate the male calves (if this has not already been done) and immunize all of the calves to protect them against blackleg. In some situations, calves may be vaccinated for the respiratory diseases, i.e. IBR and BVD. Check with your large animal veterinarian about these immunizations. Animal husbandry and beef production comes with a couple inherent obligations. As beef producers we are not only obligated to provide for the health and well-being of our animals, but we are also obligated to ensure that what we produce, edible red protein, is a safe and wholesome product for our consumers.

Correct administration of any injection is a critical control point in beef production and animal health. There is a negative relationship between meat tenderness and injection sites, including injection sites that have no visible lesion. In fact, intramuscular (IM) injections, regardless of the product injected, may create permanent damage regardless of the age of the animal at the time of injection. Tenderness is reduced in a three-inch area surrounding the injection site. Moving the injection-site area to the neck stops damage to expensive steak cuts. Therefore, cow/calf producers should make certain that their family members, and other hired labor are sufficiently trained as to the proper location of the injections before the spring calf-working begins. 

Give injections according to label instructions. Subcutaneous (SQ) means under the skin, intramuscular (IM) means in the muscle. Some vaccines (according to the label instructions) allow the choice between intramuscular (IM) and subcutaneous (SQ). Always use subcutaneous (SQ) as the method of administration when permitted by the product’s label. Remember to “tent” the skin for SQ injections unless instructed otherwise by the manufacturer. Proper injection technique is just one of many components of the Beef Quality Assurance effort that has had a positive impact on the entire United States beef industry.

Another important aspect of the Beef Quality Assurance effort is keeping of accurate treatment records. Treatment records should include:

• Individual animal/group identification

• Date treated

• Product administered and manufacturer’s lot/serial number

• Dosage used

• Route and location of administration

• Earliest date animal(s) will have cleared withdrawal period

• Name of person administering the product

 Treatment records for cattle should be stored and kept for a minimum of three years after the animal(s) have been sold from your operation. 

Beef producers are encouraged to learn and practice Beef Quality Assurance Guidelines.  You can learn more about the Beef Quality Assurance program by going to the website: https://www.bqa.org/  The Beef Quality Assurance Manual can be downloaded from that site. Examples of treatment records to be kept and stored are available from the Beef Quality Assurance Manual in Section VIII.

Find out what’s happening on the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Calendar at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/#/?i=2 

Follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/leland.mcdaniel

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Udder Soundness Affects Weaning Weights & Calf Health

Udder soundness and teat quality are one of my pet peeves, and it seems to me that the problem has become much worse over the last 30 years or so. I can only assume that our unending pursuit of increased milking ability, in our cow herds, has facilitated this situation, to a large degree. Dr. Glenn Selk, OSU Professor Emeritus, Oklahoma State University, wrote an excellent article in the most recent Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Services Cow/Calf Corner Newsletter.

Every year at “preg” checking time, ranchers evaluate cows and make decisions as which to remove from the herd. One criteria that should be examined to cull cows is udder quality. Beef cattle producers are not as likely to think about udder health and shape as are dairy producers, but this attribute affects cow productivity and should be considered. It may be easier to be accurate in your culling decisions, if you examine the udder soundness of the cows shortly after calving when they are at the peak of lactation and the udder is as large as at any time. Take time now during the peak of lactation to write down which spring-calving cows have unsound udders.  Record the cow numbers of those to be culled next fall due to unsound udders. Their heifer calves would be undesirable prospects to become replacement heifers for your herd.

The heritability estimates of udder characteristics are variable. A study done in Brahman cattle for the heritability of udder soundness indicated that progress could be made by selecting for udder soundness. They reported that 25% of the differences in udder soundness was due to genetics. Beef Improvement Federation Guidelines have suggested that the heritability of udder soundness in beef cattle is estimated at .16 to .22 which means that some progress can be made by selecting against unsound udders.

Recent research at Kansas State University (Bradford, 2014 KSU Cattlemen’s Day) with large numbers of Hereford data has given even greater hope that improvement in udder quality can be made. They found heritabilities of .32 for overall udder score, .31 for suspension, and .28 for teat size. Additionally, genetic correlations between traits were strong (.83). This means that selection for one trait (teat size or suspension) will result in improvement in the other trait.

An experiment conducted at the OSU Range Cow Research Center near Stillwater gives some indication as to the impact of mastitis on beef cow performance. They found that cows with one or two dry quarters had calves with severely reduced weaning weights (50 – 60 pounds) compared to cows with no dry quarters. This represents a sizeable economic loss at weaning time. 

An evaluation system for udder soundness has been developed and used by some breeds.  Teat shape and udder suspension are the two primary characteristics evaluated. Below are photos of unsound udders.

The first photo is an example of a cow with mastitic funnel-shaped teats. New-born calves will find it difficult to nurse such a teat, and some may be so severely infected that they become unproductive (dry). The second photo is an example of a weakened suspensory ligament. This udder may cause the teats to be very low to the ground and be difficult for the newborn calf to find to receive the colostrum that it needs in a timely manner.

Follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/leland.mcdaniel

Find out what is happening in OSU Extension at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Feeding Cows for Cold Weather

 By the time you read this, the recent blast of cold, wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain will be in the rear view mirror; in other words, it will be like George Washington . . . it will be history. However, considering this is the midst of winter in Oklahoma, we will likely see a repeat in the near future. So, with that in mind, here are some simple concepts, offered by Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist, to help you meet the additional energy needs of your cattle the next time a cold front approaches. I might add, when increasing energy intake for cold weather, it is more effective to begin a couple days before a front hits, as well as extending for a few days after nicer weather has returned.

Thus far, most of Oklahoma has experienced a relatively mild start to winter.  Nonetheless, colder weather is likely to occur before spring time and green grass.  The major effect of cold on nutrient requirement of cows is increased need for energy. To determine magnitude of cold, lower critical temperature for beef cows must first be estimated. For cows with a dry winter hair coat the lower critical temperature is considered to be 32 degrees F.  In general, researchers have used the rule of thumb that cows’ energy requirements increase 1% for each degree the wind chill is below the 32-degree lower critical temperature. In this example, the TV weatherman has predicted that wind chills will average about 4 degrees F.  Therefore, the calculation example for a cow with a winter dry hair coat would be:

 Step 1: Cow’s lower critical temperature is 32 degrees F. 

Step 2: Expected wind-chill from weather reports (4 degrees wind chill in this example) 

Step 3: Calculate the magnitude of the cold as the difference between the lower critical temperature and the wind chill: 32 degrees – 4 degrees = 28 degrees 

Step 4: Energy adjustment is 1% for each degree magnitude of cold or 28%. 

Step 5: Feed cows 128% of daily energy amount. (if cow was to receive 16 pounds of high quality grass/legume hay; then feed 20.5 pounds of hay during the cold weather event).

 Research has indicated that energy requirement for maintenance of beef cows with a wet hair coat is much greater. Cows that are exposed to falling precipitation and have the wet hair coats are considered to have reached the lower critical temperature at 59 degrees F. In addition, the requirements change twice as much for each degree change in wind-chill factor. In other words, the energy requirement actually increases 2% for each degree below 59 degrees F. To calculate the magnitude of the cold when the cow is wet would be the difference between 59 degrees minus 4 degrees = 55 degrees. True energy requirements to maintain a wet cow in this weather would be 2% X 55 degrees or 110 % increase in energy (which would mean that over twice the normal energy intake is needed.)

This amount of energy change is virtually impossible to accomplish with feedstuffs available on ranches. In addition, this amount of energy change in the diet of cows accustomed to a high roughage diet must be made very gradually to avoid severe digestive disorders. Therefore, the more common-sense approach is a smaller increase in energy requirements during wet cold weather and extending the increase into more pleasant weather to help regain energy lost during the storm.

Cows that were consuming 16 pounds of grass hay per day and 5 pounds of 20% range cubes could be increased to 20 pounds of grass hay offered per day plus 6 to 7 pounds of range cubes during the severe weather event. This is not a doubling of the energy intake but by extending this amount for a couple of days after the storm may help overcome some of the energy loss during the storm and done in a manner that does not cause digestive disorders. 

The fact that it is not feasible to feed a wet, very cold cow enough to maintain her current body condition, underscores the need for cows to be in “good” body condition at the start of winter.

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Find out what is happening in OSU Extension at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Pesticide Applicator Testing Session Offered

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry will offer a local testing session, at the Carter County OSU Extension Office, on Tuesday, November 20. They will have tests available for all the pesticide applicator categories, so anyone needing to certify for the first time or recertify can be accommodated. Of particular interest are the categories that licenses expire this year (December 31), and thus must be recertified are:

1a – Agricultural Plant

A – Aerial

7b – Structural

10 – Demonstration & Research

Private Applicator

Applicator certification requires the successful completion of at least two examinations: The “Core” exam, consisting of knowledge required in all categories of certification; and the category exam itself. Those who are recertifying need only to take the category exam. A few of the categories require completion of a practical examination in conjunction with the Core and category exams for certification in that particular category.

Core exam – Focuses on equipment, safety, laws, and other knowledge pertaining to all categories. All persons wishing to become certified applicators must pass this exam in addition to the category exam(s).

Category exam – Written exam to be taken (along with the Core exam) by those wishing to become certified in that particular category.

Practical exam- The following categories require a practical examination in addition to the Core and the written exam.  These exams are performed at OSU in Stillwater:

(7A)- General Pest

(7B)- Structural Pest/Termite

(7C)- Fumigation

The practical exam must be taken within twelve (12) months of passing the written examination.  Failure to pass the practical within this period of time will require retaking the written exam.

Service Technician exam – To be taken by anyone wishing to qualify as a service technician.  The Core exam is not required to become a service technician. 

No appointment is necessary for any regularly scheduled test session. Applicants are required to provide some type of photo identification (e.g., a valid driver’s license) showing their name and identification number. Pencils and paper are provided for applicants at the testing sites. Applicants may use a hand-held calculator as long as the print-out tape is not used. An applicant must attain a satisfactory score (70% or above) to pass any written exam. 

After all the necessary examinations have been successfully completed, the certified applicator will be issued a certification card. This certification card is not a license to do pesticide applicator work; a pesticide applicator license must be obtained by any certified applicator wishing to do pesticide applicator work (commercial, non-commercial or consultant) or must be obtained by his/her employer.

A service technician shall be issued an identification card upon satisfactory completion of the service technician examination. 

Testing fees are $50 per exam. Those individuals who are certifying for the first time will pay $50 for the Core Exam and $50 for each category exam or $50 for Service Technicians. Those who are recertifying will pay $50 for the Category Exams only. 

Private Applicators should be advised that, although all current licenses expire this year, you need not to attend this testing session, as your exam is a take-home, open-book exam. The licenses are renewed on 5-year rotations so, if you recertify now, your license will be valid through December 31, 2023. You should also be aware that, as of now, the Private Applicator test is still a take-home exam but there is a discussion of making it a proctored exam in the future, meaning that you will have to attend a testing session and complete a closed-book exam.

The testing site, Carter County OSU Extension Office, is located at 25 A St. NW Ave., Suite 200. Our entrance is located next to the Election Board, at the new Carter County Administration building, formerly the Noble Energy building. You may park on the north side of the complex, on Broadway Ave., either in the lot on the east side of the Ardmoreite Building or the lot across the street (south) of the Ardmoreite Building. You will then need to walk around to the south side of the office complex to our entrance.

Find out what’s happening on the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Calendar at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/#/?i=2

Follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/leland.mcdaniel

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

How Dressing Affects Cull Cow Values . . .

 Last week’s column, we discussed cull cow grades. Remember cull cows that are destined to go to the packing house are graded by their fleshiness. The fattest cows are called “Breakers”.  Moderately fleshed cows are “Boning utility”. Thin cows are called “Leans” or “Lights”, depending upon the weight of the cow. There will be price differences among these four grades. 

However, within each grade, large variation in prices per hundredweight will exist because of differences in dressing percentage. Cow buyers are particularly aware of the proportion of the purchased live weight that eventually becomes saleable product hanging on the rail. Dressing percentage is (mathematically) the carcass weight divided by the live weight multiplied by 100. For instance, a cow with a 1,400 lb. live weight and a “hot carcass” weight (once they have been eviscerated, and the hide, feet, and head removed) of 650 lbs. has a Dressing Percent of 46% (650/1400 = .4642 x 100 = 46%)

Key factors that affect dressing percentage include gut fill, udder size, mud and manure on the hide, excess leather on the body, and anything else that contributes to the live weight but will not add to the carcass weight. Obviously, pregnancy will dramatically lower dressing percentage due the weight of the fetus, fluids, and membranes that will not be on the hanging carcass. Most USDA Market News reports for cull cows will give price ranges for High, Average, and Low Dressing Percentages for each of the previous mentioned grades. As you study these price reports, note that the differences between High and Low Dressing cows and bulls will generally be greater than differences between grades. Many reports will indicate that Low Dressing cows will be discounted up to $8 to $12 per hundredweight compared to High Dressing cows and will be discounted $5 to $7 per hundredweight compared to Average Dressing cows. These price differences are “usually” widest for the thinner cow grades (Leans and Lights). See examples from last week’s sale in the Oklahoma City National Stockyards: http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/ko_ls151.txt

As producers market cull cows and bulls, they should be cautious about selling cattle with excess fill. The large discounts due to low dressing percent often will more than offset any advantage from the added weight. They should also be cautious about selling old, “broke mouth” or “smooth mouth” cows that are pregnant but not likely to be purchased by someone intending to take them to grass.

Cull cow prices are typically lowest in the fall, as many producers sell cull cows immediately after weaning. The cull cow market exhibits consistent seasonality across years, as evident in the graph below, where prices in March and April are approximately 15 index points higher than prices in October and November. Though the market price levels have seen unusual increases in more recent years, the seasonal pattern has persisted. This seasonality offers opportunities to deviate from traditional fall marketing of cull cows and potentially increasing salvage value by retaining cows into the spring months to market during seasonal high prices (Feuz 2010; Peel and Meyer 2002; Yager, Greer and Burt 1980). Many factors influence this decision, including individual cow health, potential weight gain, cash flow needs, on-farm resources for retention and feeding, current market conditions versus market expectations and time. In addition to feed costs, the decision to retain cull cows requires more labor and management time, including feeding cows, separating culls for possible rebreeding and pregnancy checking. Facilities and pasture availability are important considerations as well, since cull cows on feed are likely managed as a group separately from the breeding herd. Not considered here is the fact that retaining cull cows utilizes forage resources that might be used for another cattle enterprise, either more brood cows or stocker cattle. On the other hand, feeding culled cows may be a good way to capture the value of excess or leftover pasture or hay that may not otherwise get utilized or have a better use. Ultimately, the marketing decision has implications for the individual cow’s salvage value and the producer’s bottom line.

 Seasonal Price Index for Utility (Slaughter) Cows, Southern Plains, 2004-2013. Data Source: USDA-AMS, Compiled & Analysis by LMIC Livestock Marketing Information Center.      

Find out what’s happening on the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Calendar at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/#/?i=2

Follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/leland.mcdaniel

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Armyworm Control Measures . . .

Well, we are deep into a Fall armyworm infestation that may be 3-4 times, or more, worse than I have ever seen. Established control thresholds are 2-3 caterpillars per foot of row in newly emergent small grains and 3-4 caterpillars in established pastures, such as Bermuda or small grains fields. I am seeing 15-20 caterpillars per square foot in many places! Many of you have already sprayed, but do not rest easy thinking this is the last you will have to worry about them.

Depending on when we get our first frost, there could be one or two more generations of these pests before Mother Nature provides some relief. Our average first frost is November 10, and given how the law of averages works it could be two weeks earlier or two weeks later in a given year. One complete life cycle of the Fall armyworm takes 2-3 weeks, about 10-14 days as feeding caterpillar, 8-9 days in the pupal stage, and 1-3 days as egg-laying adult moths. Once new eggs are lain, new caterpillars hatch about 3 days later to begin the feeding cycle again. So, if our first frost occurs near the November 10th average date, we could see at least one and possibly two more cycles. If we have a late frost, we could see three more generations.

 The decision to spray should be based on the cost of control versus the value of the forage in question. If the loss of the forage means a substantially increased reliance on feed and hay this winter or replanting small grains fields, then control is likely an economically feasible option. Beyond that, the choice of a control product labeled for Fall armyworm control is largely driven by the cost of application and availability. 

There are a multitude of products commercially available for the control of Fall armyworms and, unfortunately, most of them will only have a 2 or 3-day window of residual activity. Many of the products have no grazing or haying restrictions, but some will have a 3 to 14-day grazing or haying restriction.

The salient point is that I would advise scouting fields at least every other day until we get a frost, and maybe invest in a HUGE flock of chickens (weak attempt at humor). 

If you have questions regarding control strategies for Fall armyworms, feel free to contact me via phone (Carter County OSU Extension 580/223-6570; Jefferson County OSU Extension 580/228-2332) or email: Leland.mcdaniel@okstate.edu.

Plan now for OQBN Pre-Conditioned Feeder Sales . . .

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In recent weeks, I discussed the consistent premiums that have been paid for calves consigned to the OQBN sales over the last 12 years. Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) sales provide an opportunity for cattle producers to add value to 2018 calves. Weaning dates are fast approaching for fall sales.

For more information on OQBN sales; vac-45 protocol; enrollment and certification process and forms; and sale representatives, visit http://oqbn.okstate.edu/ .    

 

Below is a summary of 2018/2019 OQBN sales, locations and corresponding weaning dates.

Sale Date         Location                               Weaning Date

                        Oct. 25            Woodward                              Sep. 10

                        Nov. 6             OKC West, El Reno                   Sep. 22

                        Nov. 7             Cherokee                                 Sep. 23

                        Nov. 13           McAlester                               Sep. 29

                        Nov. 17           Blackwell                                Oct. 3

                        Nov. 29           Woodward                              Oct. 15

                        Dec. 4              OKC West, El Reno               Oct. 20

                        Feb. 19            McAlester                               Jan. 5

                        Apr. 16            McAlester                               Mar. 2

                        Jun. 11             McAlester                               Apr. 27

   

 Feeding weaned calves during a pre-conditioning program

Spring born calves have already been, or soon will be weaned to meet the 45-day requirement for value-added calf sales. A minimum of a 45-day weaning period is recommended to maximize the benefits of pre-conditioning. See the list of sale dates and appropriate weaning dates in the previous article. A balanced nutrition program during this period is critical to ensure profitability for the cow/calf producer and maximum immune system function during the stressful weaning period and later production phases.

Calves targeted for a VAC-45 sale (i.e. Oklahoma Quality Beef Network) should gain 1.5 to 2 pounds per head per day from weaning to marketing to greatly enhance the likelihood of profitability of the pre-conditioning program. Research has repeatedly shown that calves that begin eating soon after shipping or weaning will have reduced health issues and certainly gain weight more quickly and consistently. Low stress “fenceline weaning” has been shown to help calves start to eat sooner and begin weight gain more quickly than calves that are weaned away from the cows.

Providing a high quality ration that meets the nutritional needs of the young calves can be accomplished in a number of ways. Producers should download a copy of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Fact sheet ANSI-3031 to obtain several rations to be mixed for weaned calves. Rations are available for very young, lightweight calves as well as for 7 to 8 month old traditional 400 – 600 pound weaned calves. Some rations will include by-product feeds such as wheat-mids and dried corn distillers’ grains if these are available at a competitive price. The Fact sheet will also discuss other management tips for early weaning, traditional weaning, and receiving shipped-in stocker calves. The URL for this important fact sheet is http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1957/ANSI-3031web.pdf

Premiums from Preconditioning and Seasonal Price Swings . . .

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I wrote about the OQBN program and the associated premiums a few weeks ago but Scott Clawson, OSU Extension Area Ag Economist, more eloquently discusses these potential premiums, and premiums associated with seasonal price changes, in the following comments.

The time of year is upon us to begin planning how we will market our spring born calves. As we fix our eyes on the market’s movements and our checkbook balance, we start to figure out a strategy. As with every plan, we need to make sure we are accurate, conservative, and as thorough as possible. The easiest option is to sell directly off the cow, an option that you can see in every livestock auction in the fall. The discount that follows from this strategy is usually significant. The other option is to wean, “straighten out”, and market those cattle at least 45 days later. Backgrounding premiums and seasonal price changes are the two main positive price movements take place in that 45 plus days after weaning.

Backgrounding premiums exist and are being displayed in many areas as most local livestock auctions facilitate their own programs. In the graphic, we see the annual premiums from the Oklahoma Quality Beef Net-work (OQBN) sales. We see variation from year to year, but it’s obvious that the practice has value. Adding to this, there is variation amongst weights. Within a single year a 400# calf may yield a higher dollar per hundredweight premium for preconditioning than does a 600# calf. This stands to reason as the 400# bawling calf is more high risk than the heavier calf. The importance of this number is that it is a comparison to calves selling the same day. This is valuable to demonstrate the premium for that management practice, but it does not illustrate the seasonal price gains that take place over the typical preconditioning period.

Beefbasis.com is a great way to price forecast for the fall. Using this tool, we estimate that a 500# medium/large muscle score #1 weaned calf in mid-October would be $163.53/cwt. We make a modest gain calculation of 1.5#/day over a 60-day backgrounding program. This leaves us in mid-December with a 590# calf with an estimated value of $157.67/cwt. The second part of this equation is the additional value that we anticipate for the VAC-45 management practices we took on. Looking at the data from 2017 and previous years, we could use a conservative $9/cwt addition to our mid-December calf price ($157.67 + $9 = $166.67/cwt) for participating in OQBN. It is worth noting that the value of this 500# calf at this point (Mid-December) is $169.67. This compared with the estimated value of the same calf quality and weight in October displays the seasonal price improvement that we see on average.

Collectively, we could sell a bawling calf in mid-October that weighs 500# for $817.65. The other option is to hold off marketing for 60 days and participate in a VAC-45 program. This gives us the opportunity to capture a seasonal price improvement as well as a VAC-45 premium. The 590# calf in mid-December has an estimated value of $983.35. The difference is $165.70/hd, but this is not profit as no costs have been deducted. But it does provide a starting point to begin our budget. Individual costs per producer will be variable based on set up and resources. Also, each producer will assign a different value for labor, management, and death loss.

At the end of the day, there is risk involved in any ranch decision. Death loss, poor gains, price, and marketing risk are all lurking in the background. We can mitigate price risk by using price protection tools. However, leaning on the history of seasonal price moves and VAC-45 premiums, we have a chance to manufacture some extra profit.

Find out what’s happening on the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Calendar at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/#/?i=2

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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.eduhas been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

How Does Rain Impact Hay Quality?

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Summer afternoon rain showers are both a friend and foe for hay producers. While most farmers certainly won’t turn down a year with ample rain, the frequency of rainfall can pose a challenge to putting up high-quality hay for the winter months.

Rain can cause the following to occur when hay is being cured in the field prior to baling:

Leaching – Hay that is closer to baling, or more dry, is more susceptible to leaching losses than fresh cut forage. Nutrient leaching causes dry matter loss, increased fiber and decreased energy value of forage.

Respiration – Losses to respiration occur when moisture levels exceed 30%. When forage is re-wetted by rain, this keeps the forage moisture level high enough for respiration to continue or be prolonged, which results in carbohydrate losses in hay.

Leaf loss is generally more significant in legume forages than grass hay, and amount of loss is often quite variable. Additional handling of windrows to encourage drying post-rainfall contributes to leaf loss.

Rain damage increases with the amount, duration of a rainfall event, and timing relative to when hay was harvested. If rain occurs shortly after cutting, this is usually less damaging than hay that has already had significant drying time in the field. A research trial at the University of Arkansas reported that a short delay in harvest of perennial warm-season grasses had a more negative influence on hay quality than a single rainfall event ranging from 0.5 to 3 inches. Repeat instances of rain cause more damage than a single rainfall event. This is generally where more significant quality and dry matter losses occur, especially for hay that is still above 30% moisture that continues to respire.

Even if hay has been rained on multiple times, it is important to get the forage out of the field to minimize the impact of excessive thatch on forage regrowth for the next potential hay harvest. Higher moisture bales may undergo heating, and they also provide a favorable environment for mold growth. Collect a forage sample from rain-damaged hay to send in for nutrient analysis to determine overall feed value and suitability. Rain-damaged, low-quality hay should be used for cows in the herd with the lowest nutrient requirement.

It is a good idea to check for nitrate levels on forage that has gone through drought conditions followed by a recovery of a rainfall event.

Contact your County OSU Extension Educator for further assistance in obtaining proper forage samples.

Find out what’s happening on the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Calendar at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/#/?i=2

Follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/leland.mcdaniel

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

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