BeefWatch Articles from May 2020
A Fundamental Review on Basis
Basis is defined as the cash minus futures. Cash market reflects today's supply conditions and price. Futures market reflects upcoming supply and demand conditions. If it is anticipated that there will be a period of increasing supplies, futures prices will decline to reflect that information. Likewise, periods of time with expected decreasing supplies, future prices are expected to increase.
The effects of COVID-19 on the livestock market are well known and felt. Some effects include depressed futures and cash prices, unusual basis patterns, decreased packer bids and sale barn volume, packing plant closures, consumer hording of meat products, and shifting food service products for retail consumption. All these effects occurred as market participants grappled with everchanging government and industry policy which reduced consumer demand and resulted in bottlenecks and increasing supply gluts upstream.
One of the ways that beef producers can be successful in their business is to identify what their competitive advantage is in relation to their competition. What is it about your product, skills, reputation, business structure, location or service that sets you apart from others? What gives you a “leg up” on the competition?
Many cow-calf producers in Nebraska have become accustomed to using distillers grains as a source of both protein and energy to help meet the nutritional needs of lactating cows from calving until green grass is available. Due to the ongoing distillers shortage, many producers are considering including corn silage in the ration to help alleviate some of the energy shortfall in their hay resources. However, concerns have been expressed that silage in the diet will result in diarrhea or scours in their calves.
Branding is the social event of the spring signaling the end of winter and the long hours of calving, and the beginning of greener pastures ahead. Friends and neighbors come from far and wide to help out and relive the cherished tradition.
As the US continues to limit the spread of COVID-19 by closing offices and promoting social distancing and working from home, agriculture does not stop. The work must go on. Although calves must be branded, not taking precautions can mean the difference between life and death for some loved ones.
Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potentially invasive species prior to or just as the establishment of the invasive is taking place. An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further. This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.
As livestock producers prepare for another grazing season, thoughts are often directed towards grass conditions, animal conditioning, and fence repair. An additional very important consideration should include what type of flies will impact their pastured cattle, and what method of fly control will work best for their management system. Livestock fly control should be viewed as having a positive economic impact on livestock operations. In Nebraska and elsewhere, there are three fly species that economically impact pastured cattle; horn fly, face fly and stable fly.
Meadows cover approximately 10% of the land area in the Nebraska Sandhills. These meadows have both subirrigated and wetland ecological sites that are an important forage resource (hay and grazing) for many ranches in the Sandhills. Meadows typically provide 2 to 3 times more forage than associated Sandhills uplands. Meadows are also vital to the biodiversity and hydrology of the Sandhills with many native wildlife and plant species found in these subirrigated and wetland areas.
You do not have to go far on social media to find farmers in tractors or families out with newborn calves with the hashtag “social distancing” and the caption “I’ll be engaging in social distancing this spring, like I do every year!”
As we approach the breeding season, cows and heifers are faced with a variety of stressors from the metabolic pressure of providing for a calf to changes in environment. Stress during early pregnancy is well documented to cause embryonic death and loss of pregnancy. However, making strategic management decisions during the fragile 2 months after breeding can help minimize those losses.
The Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center is providing guidance on the prevention and spread of COVID-19 for farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers. Precautions include eliminating exposure, finding ways to reduce person-to-person contact, using administrative authority to establish new work guidelines as necessary, and making use of all appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.