Beef Market Advisor

Friday, March 25, 2005

Some Calving Tips From Colorado DVM, Rob Callan

Rob Callan, Colorado State University DVM, offered these calving tips during the recent Pfizer Animal Health-sponsored "Cattlemen's College" in San Antonio, TX.

First, it's important to know when a cow is having problems with delivery and when intervention is needed. A cow will take 1-8 hours getting ready to calve before her water breaks. After that, she should make some progress every 30 minutes -- a foot showing, a second foot showing, a nose showing. If progress seems stalled after 30-60 minutes, it may be time to intervene.

If you have to assist delivery, it's best if the cow is lying down. When standing, the calf may need to be lifted over her pelvic bone. If she's lying down, you don't have to lift up, and it takes 30% less force to deliver the calf.

Some cows will lie down naturally when you start pulling the calf. If a cow doesn't lie down on her own, cinching a rope around her belly will cause most cows to lie down. As you pull the calf, gently twist the lower leg over the upper leg, causing the calf's body to twist slightly as it moves through the cow's pelvis. This prevents the calf from hip-locking.

A normal calf should be lying up on its sternum and attempting to stand within 15 minutes of delivery. The suckle response should occur within 30 minutes of delivery and the newborn calf should be standing by 60 minutes of age.

It's important that the newborn's body temperature remain above 100° F. If possible, take the calf's temperature immediately after birth. Typically, their temperatures will be about 103° at delivery and then begin to drop within the first 1-3 hours. A calf temp below 100° clearly indicates distress. Get the calf into a warm-water bath -- or better yet -- a heated hut with direct heat from a lamp or heater.

"I like the hut idea best because it means the calf is breathing warm air," Callan says. "That's more important than getting warmth to the outer body."

If a calf has trouble suckling, or getting going in general, it's important to administer colostrum. Do this with either a stomach tube or a nipple bottle.

"But don't give it too much, only about a quart," Callan says. "Any more may fill the calf up so it's not hungry, and won't try to suckle. We want the newborn to try to suckle as soon as possible, to bond with the cow."

Callan says your most gentle cows -- the ones easiest to milk -- are the best source of supplemental colostrum. After a cow's own calf has suckled, milk out a quart or so and freeze it. Her own calf won't miss it, and it will be available for a later problem calf. Frozen colostrum stays viable for a year.

Callan likes putting a nose tube with oxygen on problem calves.

"My experience is calves that aren't getting enough oxygen don't nurse well. Supplemental oxygen can help them get going," he says.

Once calves are going good, Callan suggests moving them to group nursing pastures. He prefers calves in nursing pastures all be within 3 weeks of age of each other.

After 3 weeks, begin putting new calves in a different nursing pen. This keeps the age range in each nursing pen at 3 weeks or less. This avoids exposure to scours-causing pathogens that can be shed by older calves. New, young calves may not be able to fight off those bugs.

-- Maine's Agriculture Today Newsletter

posted by Dr. Harlan Hughes 4:55 PM [edit]

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Effects Of Lost Exports On U.S. Beef Prices

After the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States in December 2003, U.S. exports of beef nearly stopped as the major export markets no longer accepted U.S. beef. U.S. beef exports totaled 145 thousand metric tons in 2004, which is an 83 percent decline compared to the 858 thousand metric tons exported in 2003. In terms of value, U.S. beef exports sank from $3.15 billion in 2003 to $550 million in 2004, which is an 82.5 percent decrease. Prior to the BSE discovery, U.S. beef exports had been steadily increasing over time. The United States did not export any beef to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Egypt, and China (among others) in 2004.

The importance of exports for U. S. beef producers has been increasing over time. Prior to the mid-1980s, less than 2 percent of U.S. beef production was exported. This percentage has steadily increased over the last 30 years. In 2003, almost 10 percent of U.S. beef production was exported. The percentage of beef production exported dropped to less than 2 percent in 2004. The BSE case in the United States does not appear to have had any significant effect on domestic beef demand, but the growing importance of exports suggests that a loss of major foreign markets could have significant effects on the U.S. beef and cattle industry.

An econometric model is developed for U.S. domestic retail beef, pork, and chicken prices, where price is expressed as a function of supply and demand variables. The price of each meat is estimated as a function of supply, exports, the prices of substitutes, per capita disposable income, seasonal dummy variables to account for seasonal changes in demand, and a lagged dependent variable.

Supply is found to have a significant, negative effect on beef, pork, and chicken prices, as expected, and exports have a positive and significant effect on beef and pork prices. Per capita disposable income is found to have a positive effect on beef and chicken prices, and the prices of all three meats are found to be higher during summer months. The prices of substitute meats, however, are not found to have significant impacts.

U.S. beef exports averaged 473 million pounds (retail weight) per quarter in 2003 and dropped to 80 million pounds per quarter in 2004, which is a decrease of 393 million pounds. According to the results of our model, a 393 million pound decline in exports, with all other factors remaining the same, would cause price to decrease by $0.22 per pound. Therefore, if exports had remained at the same level as in 2003, the U.S. beef price would be $0.22 per pound higher, which represents a 6 percent price change.

The drop in exports and the resulting negative impact on beef prices also has a negative effect on U.S. cattle price, which is estimated to be approximately $0.04 per pound. A $0.04 per pound price reduction results in a $1.38 billion loss in revenue for the U.S. cattle industry, which would be a 4 to 5 percent reduction in revenue.


The Effect of Lost Exports on U.S. Beef Prices


Jeremy W. Mattson
Hyun J. Jin
Won W. Koo

Agribusiness & Applied Economics Report No. 558 March 2005

coimplete report at: – A North Dakota State University Publication.

posted by Dr. Harlan Hughes 1:53 PM [edit]

Impact Of Canadian and Japanese Border Closing On U.S. Cattle Prices

A Montana State University Study

The USDA-MRR rule to allow U.S. backgrounders, feedlot operators, and meat packers to purchase Canadian feeder cattle and fed cattle beginning March 7, 2005 has evoked controversy among beef producers and beef industry organizations. Some assert that resuming U.S. imports of Canadian live cattle will disrupt marketings and may potentially cause animal and human health problems in the United States. Others are confident that Canadian and U.S. meat safeguards will protect meat supplies against BSE contamination.

We use a model that incorporates price flexibilities, import and export market shares, and 2004 base prices to estimate the likely effects on U.S. cattle prices from resuming live cattle and beef trade with Canada. We estimated that U.S. fed cattle and feeder cattle prices would decline by $1.22/ hundredweight and $2.11/ hundredweight in 2005, assuming Japanese and South Korean beef export markets remained closed to U.S. beef exports.

Based on U.S. fed steer and heifer slaughter and the U.S. calf crop in 2004, these price declines would reduce fed cattle revenues by $417 million and feeder cattle revenues by $457 million (or, about 1.5 percent and 2 percent of 2004 total revenues in these sectors).

The resumption of live cattle and beef trade with Canada may be linked to the resumption of beef trade with Japan and South Korea. If trade with Japan and South Korea is resumed, then U.S. fed steer prices would likely increase by $4.10/hundredweight and feeder steer prices would increase by $7.05/hundredweight in 2005. These price changes would increase fed cattle revenues by $1.4 billion and feeder calf revenues by $1.5 billion (or 5 percent and 6.5 percent of 2004 total revenues in these sectors).

The Impacts on U.S. Cattle Prices of Re-Establishing

Beef Trade Relations

John M. Marsh, Gary W. Brester, Vincent H. Smith

Montana State University Briefing No. 74 February 2005

Complete report is at:

posted by Dr. Harlan Hughes 1:42 PM [edit]

Wayne Purcell, Virginia Tech, Beef Marketing Comments 4-22-05

I saw last week's cattle on feed report as bullish but the market did not show much reaction. The placement figure was below last year and below the bottom end of the pre-report estimates but marketings were also below last year's levels. Boxed beef values are down to the $154 area for Choice boxes, off some $4.00 from March 16 levels above $158.

Year to date beef production is running 2 to 3 percent below last year, and per capita supplies and consumption will be down more than that if this pace holds. Many have predicted beef production will be up this year, but I have thought that was unlikely as we start to build the cow herd and take some heifers out of slaughter. Cash prices were in the low 90's last week but I am not sure we can hold those levels.

Sell the nearby April live cattle futures to place short hedges on any rally above $90 and use the trend line hooking the October and February lows as backup protection if you do not get the rally to $90----and we may not see that price again on the April. Place short hedges on a close below the trend line if that happens first.

The contract highs on the May and August feeder cattle futures are $105.40 and $106.00 respectively. Take profits on long hedges on rallies toward those highs and if you have cattle to sell, look at short hedges on the rallies.

On both contracts, we may see a drifting down from current levels above $104.00 on the May and then a brief rally which would allow us to place uptrend lines on the charts and have a backup sell and short hedge strategy if the highs are not challenged again.

Pasted from <>

posted by Dr. Harlan Hughes 11:01 AM [edit]

This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.