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Industry Update

Dealing With Drought

Lack of rain and little subsoil moisture is a problem for cattle producers in some areas across the country. Drought conditions create management headaches in terms of water shortages, grass/hay shortages, marketing, prices and availability of stored feeds, long-term pasture management and culling decisions. With this in mind, and as a service to our breeders we developed a Web site, Dealing With Drought: A resource for cattle prdocuers. This comprehensive Web site is a one-stop site for information on how to deal with a drought.

Visit www.angusjournal.com/drought for more information.

U.S. Cattle on Feed Down 5 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 9.59 million head on August 1, 2003. The inventory was 5 percent below August 1, 2002 and 12 percent below August 1, 2001.

Placements in feedlots during July totaled 1.99 million, 8 percent above 2002 and slightly above 2001. Net placements were 1.93 million. During July, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 421,000, 600-699 pounds were 414,000, 700-799 pounds were 593,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 564,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during July totaled 2.27 million, 4 percent above 2002 and 11 percent above 2001.

Other disappearance totaled 60,000 during July, 33 percent above 2002 and 2 percent above 2001.

Click here to view tables and graphs of Cattle on Feed

Outlook for Backgrounding Cattle This Fall Looks Favorable
By Laura Skillman

PRINCETON, Ky. (Aug. 20, 2003) - With fall and the time for weaning spring-born calves fast approaching, farmers need to determine what to do with those calves.

Price levels are flat and historically high, said Lee Meyer, an agricultural economist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Based on pricing history, producers can expect somewhat of a price dip as fall marketings increase - normally $3 to $6 per hundredweight from August to November. By keeping these calves after weaning, farmers can expect increased weights to offset any modestly lower prices, he said. For example, selling a 500-pound calf at 95 cents per pound will return less than adding another 100 pounds of weight and selling for 90 cents. The income difference is $65 while the cost of adding the additional weight will be between $20 and $30. Additionally, participating in the various certified preconditioned for health (CPH-45) sales around the state can make the net returns even better, Meyer said. Calves sold at CPH-45 sales get higher prices because of their reputations, and because they are marketed in larger, more uniform groups.

The moisture the state has had in recent weeks is giving farmers alternative feeding choices. Traditionally, calves are preconditioned on a dry feed ration. But since most farms should have decent pasture for the newly weaned calves, with good quality forage farmers can do some rotational grazing and supplement as needed. Feeding information for newly weaned calves is available at the local Cooperative Extension Service office. In addition to the economic benefit farmers can receive by retaining their calves, it is also positive for the state's beef industry when fewer calves are sold directly off the cow, Meyer said.

Calves sold directly off the cow are often stressed making them more susceptible to diseases. Evidence shows that once a calf is sick and has to be treated, its performance never quite recovers, he said. These calves damage the state's reputation. All a farmer needs to wean and precondition calves is modest facilities and relatively good feed, Meyer said. Cost share programs through tobacco settlement money are available in many counties across the state to help pay for cattle facilities. There also are custom weaning facilities in some areas of the state that are supported through the Kentucky Beef Network. For more information, contact your county Extension office.

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