Dr. Plain Says Record Prices Put Cattlemen at CrossroadsMon, 11 Aug 2014 10:58:37 CDT
Cattle producers are enjoying record calf and feeder prices. Speaking at the 24th Annual Southern Plains Beef Symposium in Ardmore Saturday, University of Missouri Ag Extension Economist Dr. Ron Plain said that's a result of several factors. The nation started the year with the smallest cattle herd in the US since 1951, beef supplies are down because of the smaller calf crop. With good summer rains that has improve grass conditions and the outlook for cattlemen to sustain their herds.
"Looks like heifer retention is picking up and cow slaughter is down, Plain said. "That also tightens up the supply of beef on the market."
Dr. Plain talked with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about the cattle market. You can hear their full conversation by tapping on the LISTEN BAR below.
Plain said slaughter steers are averaging $1.50 - $1.60 a pound on a live weight basis, making phenomenal records. This will be 5th consecutive year with record cattle prices, feeder calf prices also at records, it's a good time to own cattle. With the record prices, its very tempting to sell heifers, instead of holding them to expand that cowherd. Plain said that is one of the challenges cattlemen are facing.
"When you're looking at record prices for feeder cattle deciding to hold onto that heifer breed her is a big decision," Plain said. "It's only those cattlemen in it for the long haul and got few enough gray hairs that they want to stick around and do more work, cause more heifers, more cows in your herd means more work for these cattlemen, so not everybody is going to be doing that."
Rebuilding the nation's cattle herd will be long slow process. From breeding to having a live calf on the ground takes nine months and another 20 months until that animal is ready for slaughter, so it will take several years before numbers begin to grow substantially.
"This year calf crop is supposed to be smaller than the year before for the 19th year in the row," Plain said. "That means reduced beef production next year and probably the year after."
For cattle producers who want to remain in the business, now is a good time to make management practices are top of mind. Dr. Plain says producers should work on efforts to minimizes the number open cows in your herd. That can mean more dollars in your pocket, especially with these record prices.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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