Animal Scientist Galen Erickson Uses Current Market Trends to Predict the Future of Cattle FeedingTue, 25 Jul 2017 12:08:53 CDT
When the Galen Erickson of the University of Nebraska was asked to speak on the future of cattle feeding earlier this year, he made some predictions based on data.
“Philosophically I think the best way to predict the future is with some recent trends and we have about a 40-year trend line on increasing carcass weight in beef cattle,” Erickson said. “It’s actually about a 5-pound-per-year average increase in carcass weight for steers and 6 pounds for heifers. So, we’re continuing to make cattle bigger and bigger and I don’t see that changing until there is some other more pervasive way to change that. And it could be changing marketing or it could be discounts but it’s going to be a long-term trend I’m afraid until something stops it.”
To watch a video clip featuring Galen Erickson, University of Nebraska animal scientist, speak on his predictions regarding the future of cattle feeding based on current trends and data, click or tap the PLAYBOX below.
More days on feed also helps increase marbling potential, which is the kind of beef the U.S. is known for producing.
“Clearly, I think we have the infrastructure maybe most importantly the knowledge and the people to focus still on fattened cattle,” he asserted, “which would be high marbled and generally speaking higher fat cattle, that’s the market today in the U.S. It has been in recent times. I don’t see that changing.”
But there is still demand for lean trim, which leaves the domestic beef business with a few options: Raise more cows or grow more cattle on forage.
“Or a balance between exports and imports and balance maybe exporting very highly marbled, high-quality beef and maybe importing lower quality, more lean trim. Those are all decisions well beyond me but I think something’s going to give because we need a lot of lean trim and yet we produce a lot of well-marbled, high-quality beef,” Erickson claimed. “And from my personal opinion is that we should focus on producing more higher quality marbled beef, and be very careful about our import/export philosophies and policies.”
Other trends of interest include the increasing feedyard mortality.
“With all of the technology that we do have from an animal health perspective and all the management things that we know today,” he said, “I wish that trend line wasn’t going up. And so, I’m a little concerned about how we manage cattle. Maybe especially this transition of weaning through getting them into feed yards.”
A bigger market incentive for preconditioning programs might help, he suggests.
Finding the right people to watch over those animals-and catch those that are sick-is an increasingly difficult task.
“One of the biggest things on their mind is people. And how are they going to handle the personnel needs in the future. There’s really two categories of people that we need in any operation and that’s management and so on so forth and a lot of knowledge skill or a lot of knowledge in different areas, or general labor, very skilled in many cases so I don’t mean labor that’s unskilled but still more labor-focused jobs,” concluded Erickson.
Employees, cattle health, marketing, feeding-they’re all changing. Erickson is optimistic that producers will rise to meet the challenge.
Source - Certified Angus Beef
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