U.S. cattle inventory hits a nine-year high

At 32.5 million, the number of beef cows, including heifers that have calved, is 7 percent above the 2015 mid-year count. The ratio of the July beef cow inventory to the January level is the highest since 1993. These numbers confirm that the cowherd is still expanding. Heifer slaughter is up 11 percent so far in 2017, and the number of heifers on feed was up 11 percent in the 2nd quarter of this year, suggesting that heifer retention is slowing.

Incorporating corn into beef cow rations can save forage

Poor forage production in drought areas across South Dakota has created forage shortages for some producers. Producers are looking for alternative feeding strategies to get through the summer and upcoming winter months. Research shows that a variety of feedstuffs can be utilized to meet the cows’ nutrient requirements with similar performance to a forage-based diet. Current corn prices of $3.20 per bushel are competitive for beef cow diets. Corn or corn-based by-products can be used to substitute for forages and save on daily feed costs.

Atypical BSE case confirmed in Alabama

Recently, a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was confirmed in Alabama. The disease was detected during a routine screening at an Alabama livestock market. The animal never entered the slaughter facility and was not a risk to the food supply or human health. The 11-year old cow died at the location, and tissue samples were sent to laboratories in Colorado and Iowa for testing. The USDA said it was the fifth case of the atypical or unusual form of the disease confirmed in the U.S.

California Extension helps ranchers estimate costs and returns of beef production

Ranchers have experienced increasing production costs, although revenue has not kept up with expenses. To help ranchers make smart business decisions, new cost studies for beef cattle production have been released by the University of California ANR Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension. Sample costs and returns for beef cattle production in the northern Sacramento Valley are presented in these studies, which include cow-calf, stocker and grass-finished cattle. For free copies of these studies, visit https://coststudies.ucdavis.edu.

Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory to hold open house August 23

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory will host its 18th annual open house August 23. Presentations will be given on cattle and natural resources management, including beef cattle nutrition research, cattle markets, cattle handling and more. Businesses, services and associations that support the beef cattle industry will participate. Activities, demonstrations and exhibits are planned so guests can come and go. For more information, visit http://westcentral.unl.edu/gudmundsen.

Beef Quality Audit reveals need for improvement

Data from the 2016 National Feed Quality Audit (NBQA) notes that the beef industry has continued to improve the quality of its products, but there is still room for improvement. Funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, the research provides guidelines and measurements for cattle producers to help determine quality conformance of the U.S. beef supply. The 2016 results indicate that food safety remains the top priority across all sectors, followed by consistency and uniformity in size. The 2016 NBQA results also showed an increase in Choice and Prime carcasses, due to a reduced number of blemishes.

JBS reaches deal to sell Canada feedyard, farmland

After recently selling U.S. cattle feeding operations, JBS will sell its Canadian cattle feeding business, too. JBS Food Canada, Inc., announced Friday it will sell Lakeside Feeders, its beef cattle feedyard and adjacent farmland in Brooks, Alberta, Canada to MCF Holdings Ltd. This was reported to be part of a $1.8 billion divestment plan to cut the company’s dairy, poultry and cattle feeding operations after parent company JBS SA was fined $3.1 billion in Brazil to settle a bribery scandal.

AFBF, National FFA work together as advocates of ag education

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National FFA Organization recently signed a memorandum of understanding to grow leaders, build communities and strengthen agriculture. The MOU outlines how the two organizations will work together to benefit both their members and agriculture education students in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. FFA and AFBF will attract, educate, inspire and prepare students to enter careers in the agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources industries.

Drought resources for ranchers in the Dakotas and Montana

Drought conditions are worsening for ranchers in North and South Dakota and Montana. Ranchers have been hauling water daily to empty stock dams when they aren’t tracking down winter forages. Cattle producers are also culling their herds. South Dakota Governor, Dennis Daugaard has declared a statewide emergency drought situation to offer producers relief, such as allowing them to cut and bale state highway ditches next to their property. This also activates the State Drought Task Force, which coordinates information exchange among government, agriculture, fire and water supply entities.

Wal-Mart upgrades to Angus beef

Thanks to increasing competition, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has upgraded its beef to certified Angus across the U.S. For the past year, Wal-Mart has worked with Tyson Foods and Cargill to secure a supply of Angus steaks and roast at no additional cost to consumers. The higher-quality cuts have been available in all of Wal-Mart’s 4,700 U.S. stores since March. Wal-Mart made this beef upgrade in response to competition, and to entice shoppers by offering curbside pickup of online grocery orders.