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‘Exciting_times’_in the cattle business moving forward

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By: Blair Fannin

Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course features cattle market outlook, trends

Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, [email protected]

COLLEGE STATION – As temperatures in College Station reached 100 degrees during Monday’s opening general session of the 61st Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, it could also accurately describe a red-hot cattle market the past two years.

“These are exciting times indeed, but are they here to stay?” said Dr. Jason Cleere, conference coordinator and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, addressing one of the highest-attended short course events ever.

Dr. Jason Cleere, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist and Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course coordinator, leads off the general session. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

More than 1,680 beef cattle producers gathered at Texas A&M to hear the latest about the cattle market and future trends.

“I think there is a lot to look forward to down the road,” Cleere told attendees.

Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University livestock marketing economist, said the cattle market may have topped earlier this year, but don’t expect a downward spiral in prices anytime soon. However, Peel said to “prepare for lower prices” according to decades of past charts and data.

“It’s been fun on the way up; it’s been easy to make money on the way up,” Peel said. “There still will be some good times ahead, but you’re going to have to manage costs in relation to the market. It all goes back to cost management. Now is a good time to invest some of those good returns you’ve had to help manage costs over the next few years. That might be investing in (replacement) females or brush control. I’m still optimistic. The best cure for high prices is high prices.”

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, Peel said, drought conditions have improved dramatically and beef producers “have been able to switch from defense to offense” in building back herds.

“We are on the way back to seeing expansion,” Peel said.

Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University livestock marketing economist, discusses the cattle market during the general session of the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

U.S. cattle inventory was up 2.5 percent as of July 1, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service. Beef cow numbers totaled 30.5 million July 1 as compared to 29.7 million in 2014.

Other indicators include a 6.9 percent decline in cattle slaughter so far for 2015 as well as an 11.5 percent decline in heifer slaughter.

“That’s pretty strong evidence we are expanding,” Peel said.

Dr. Rick Machen, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, Uvalde, discussed emerging issues in the beef industry. He said the recent ban lifted on imports from Argentina and Brazil will weigh on U.S.-produced grass-fed and organic beef markets.

“It’s quite likely some of these imports could compete one-on-one with some of the products you produce here,” Machen said. He advised those who produce grass-fed and organic beef in Texas and abroad to manage costs and keep a watchful on the issue as it could affect business.

When it comes to food and beef, Millennials, those born in the 1980s or 1990s, they want to know who raised it, how it was treated, where it came from, whether it contains genetically modified organisms, the environmental impact and whether it is sustainable.

“They want somebody that is tied to agriculture, somebody they can trust to answer their questions,” Machen said. “There is nobody better to tell our story than us.”

Machen encouraged beef producers to tell their story about stewardship and stockmanship and “tell it as often as you can.”

“Tell your grandkids to invite their friends to come out the ranch and tell your story. How we help the Millennials, the kids they are raising, is going to have a profound influence on who is inheriting the ranch on down the line.”

Other general session speakers included Russell Woodward, senior manager of product marketing with the Texas Beef Council, Dan Halstrom, senior vice president of global marketing and communications with the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and Brian Bledsoe, Colorado-based meteorologist featured monthly in the Southern Livestock Standard.

This year’s short course was dedicated to Dr. David Bade, AgriLife Extension state forage specialist emeritus. Bade thanked the many beef cattle producers he has worked with throughout his career and for receiving the honor during Monday’s traditional prime rib dinner held at the Memorial Student Center on the Texas A&M campus. The dinner also featured remarks by Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp and Texas A&M President Michael K. Young.

The event showcases the latest research and educational programs offered by AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the department of animal science at Texas A&M. The annual event is one of the largest beef-education workshops in the country, according to organizers.

 

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Farm & Ranch

Mammals and Avian Influenza

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By Barry Whitworth, DVM

At the writing of this article, High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has been detected in more than 83 million domestic poultry in the United States. The outbreak includes commercial and backyard flocks.

Most people are aware that poultry may succumb to Avian Influenza but may not know that other animals can be infected with the virus. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a variety of mammals have been infected with Avian Influenza H5N1 in the U.S.

The list of more than 200 mammals includes bears, foxes, skunks, coyotes, etc. Even marine animals such as dolphins and seals have been found with the virus. Current Avian Influenza H5N1 infections in poultry, mammals, and livestock in the U.S. can be found at the Detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza website at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/livestock-poultry-disease/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-detections.

Recently, ruminants have been diagnosed with Avian Influenza H5N1 in the U.S. The World Organization for Animal Health reported that neonatal goats displaying neurological clinical signs and death were positive for Avian Influenza.

To read more, pick up a copy of the May issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

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By Rayford Pullen | [email protected]

When May arrives, we start thinking about weed control. With two years of drought under our belts, grass grazed short and hay stocks depleted, what we do now will influence our forage conditions for the entire year. With 75 percent of our annual warm season forages made by July 15 in North Texas, we need to get the grass growing while the sun shines.

Speaking of the sun shining, the biggest deterrent to growing lots of grass is restricted sunlight, and the biggest sun blockers we have are weeds.

Have you noticed weeds are normally just slightly taller than your grass and are probably blocking 90 percent of the sunlight from reaching the grass itself? So obviously, we need to improve conditions, so sunlight reaches the plants we want to grow.

With grass extremely short, more sunlight is hitting the soil surface now, which in turn results in more weed seed germinating. With the moisture we have received, we expect an abundance of weeds this year.

To read more, pick up a copy of the May issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Farm & Ranch

Land Market Report: March Land Sales

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By Jared Groce

Rural land sales are continuing on a steady pace for early spring, with prices holding very strong with the sell-to-list price ratios remaining very high, even on properties that have been on the market for a longer than usual time period. The total number of transactions are picking up once again as the spring selling season kicks off, and the average acreage continues to decrease.

Larger acreage properties seem to be in higher demand than smaller properties currently, with many buyers simply parking cash in real estate to hedge against inflation. Interest rates seem to have settled down and most experts agree that rates will be reduced by the fed this year. Some lenders have programs in place that allow the buyer to reduce their rates without having to go through a full refinance ordeal.

To read more, pick up a copy of the May issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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