Better Wheat Pasture Conditions May Moderate Oklahoma Cattle LossesTue, 20 Dec 2011 11:54:36 CST
The current climate forecast is for drought conditions to persist this winter across central and western Oklahoma. According to Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, though future conditions are uncertain, widespread and persistent rain in November was ideal for establishment and growth on winter wheat. The result has been more winter wheat than anyone thought possible at the end of October. However, it must be remembered that the amount of wheat pasture is still below normal. Many pastures have a minimal amount of forage for grazing and look more like what they would a month earlier in a more typical year. Depending on winter weather these pastures may or may not see much additional forage growth before February.
Nevertheless, the available wheat pasture fueled a brief feeder cattle market boom after Thanksgiving that saw prices in Oklahoma jump $10-$12/cwt for stocker cattle as local demand pushed against smaller than normal volumes. The boom lasted about two weeks as producers picked up a few stockers to take advantage of the unexpected wheat pasture. Prices have dropped this last week but are still $8-$10/cwt. higher than November for light stockers while heavy feeders are $1-$3/cwt. higher than a month ago. In other situations, the wheat pasture is being used to provide forage for cows and replacement heifers. Many producers have minimal supplies of forage, often of marginal quality and the high quality wheat pasture provides critical nutritional supplies for cow-calf operations.
The availability of some wheat pasture may moderate the change in Oklahoma cattle inventories as measured on January 1. My estimates for beef cow inventory has not changed and I still expect about a 12 percent decline in beef cows compared to January 1, 2011. However, reductions in stocker numbers will not be quite as severe as earlier projected and overall cattle numbers in Oklahoma may be down in the range of 20-25 percent compared to the earlier projections of a 25-30 percent drop in total cattle numbers.
Our thanks to Dr. Derrell Peel for providing this article over wheat pasture and Oklahoma cattle loss. This article was part of the Cow-Calf Corner newsletter which is sent out on most Mondays by Dr. Peel and Dr. Glenn Selk.
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