Cattle numbers increased in Michigan and decreased nationally

Want to learn the cost of beef production in Michigan? Have an interest in grazing costs? Join MSUE for a webinar series.

Adding up the dollars in the beef cattle enterprise is critical, especially when beef is experiencing record-high prices. Experts from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension’s Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute will come together to present a series of four webinars surrounding the theme of Opportunities in Beef Production and Marketing. Beef cattle economics 101 will fill the first evening’s webinar. Understanding differences in cow size, calving dates and managing annual cow feed cost for profitability will be covered. The second webinar will be dedicated to discussing cost of forage opportunities. Grazing costs and backgrounding calves before finishing compared to taking calves right to the feedlot after weaning are important places to look for dollars that add up these days.

Kable Thurlow, MSU Extension beef educator, said “Ruminants have been utilizing grass for centuries. With today’s technology, high feed costs and the local food movement grass finishing can be a great way to branch out into a niche market for your farm.” 

One important part of finding profit is making sure a business model and planning is up-to-date. Brenda Reau with the MSU Product Center indicates, “Producers are naturally focused on production and a sound business plan is one of the most often overlooked tools in the farming operation.”

Tune-in to the third webinar to find out how to identify market potential and learn about current consumer demand trends. The final webinar in the series will focus on the end product of the cattle enterprise, beef. Become familiar with regulations for direct marketing beef, understand pricing when selling beef and learn how decisions made in management and different production scenarios can alter beef quality. 

Jeannine Schweihofer, MSU Extension meat quality educator reports, “It is important for beef producers to understand the end product they produce. More importantly, producers need to share their knowledge and have a conversation with their customers regarding the beef they are selling them.”

Now is one of the most exciting times to be in the cattle industry. The Jan. 1, 2012 cattle inventory report provided much insight into how cattle numbers are changing across the nation. Nationally, there is a 2.1% decrease in the cattle herd compared to year-ago numbers stemming mostly from Texas and Oklahoma where drought is intense. The result in 90.8 million head, the lowest cattle inventory since 1952 when there were 88.1 million head. In Michigan, there was a 2% increase in cattle inventory compared to year-ago numbers resulting in 1.11 million head. Additionally, there was a 10% increase in beef cows in Michigan that calved in 2012 (109,000 head) compared to 2011 (99,000 head). Milk cow numbers were also increased by 3% to 371,000 head. In Michigan in 2011, beef cow replacements were steady, and the calf crop was 1% larger. The number of cattle on feed in Michigan decreased by 20,000 head or 12%. Tight supplies of fed cattle are resulting in positive basis prices on top of high prices for fat cattle in Michigan currently. Other states including Iowa, Nebraska, and Idaho also saw increases in cattle inventories.

For more information regarding registering for the webinar series that will be held on February 21 and 28, March 13 and 20, 2012, visit the MSU Beef Team.

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