In this file:


·         Ranching in a COVID world: 2020 Cattle harvest and beef production

·         Breaking some ranching paradigms: Conundrum, indecision or great opportunity?



Ranching in a COVID world: 2020 Cattle harvest and beef production

Consumer demand and beef industry resilience has been the key in working through the COVID-related challenges in 2020.


Nevil Speer, BEEF Magazine

Oct 08, 2020


Over the past few months, this column has been acutely focused on the influence of COVID-19. Perhaps the most significant development during the time frame has been beef’s resilience in the marketplace despite the food service industry lagging far behind pre-COVID activity. 


For example:


1. wholesale beef values have cleared the noise from the COVID slowdown and have proven surprisingly strong of late.


2. Consumers have demonstrated their desire for high-quality beef and willingness to pay up at the top end of the market.


3. Notwithstanding the deficit of food service, wholesale primal values (rib/loin versus chuck/round) have returned to pre-COVID levels in terms of overall contribution to the cutout.


Meanwhile, looking at the production side provides an even greater appreciation of the significance of these trends. 


The COVID slowdown generally meant more days on feed for the feeding sector. That subsequently led to bigger carcass weights. The year-over-year difference peaked at 52 pounds in late May and early June. Carcass weights have since moderated but the industry is still grappling with those added pounds.


This week’s illustration highlights that impact. It features year-over-year comparison of 12-week moving averages through September for both cattle harvest and beef production. Weekly slaughter has been full pace compared to last year. And remember: At this time last year, even though Tyson’s Holcomb plant was off-line, the industry managed to maintain full throughput.


And so, while moderating, steer carcass weights during the last 12 weeks are still running 32 pounds ahead of last...


more, including links, chart



Breaking some ranching paradigms: Conundrum, indecision or great opportunity?

To ranch better, strive to rise out of “paradigm lockdown.”


Strategic Planning; By Burke Teichert, BEEF Magazine

Oct 08, 2020


I think the biggest problem in our cattle industry today is “paradigm lockdown.” Habit is strong and change requires work (often mental work) and also can be frightening. Paradigm lockdown isn’t a problem of ranchers alone. There are others who contribute to and mold our paradigms.  To think of a few:


Who funds research? Some research is done at places like the USDA Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Neb., the Ft. Keogh Livestock and Range Research Station at Miles City, Mont., and a few other USDA stations where the funding appears to come from USDA and is hopefully completely unbiased.


There are rumors that funding for some of these stations could be reduced or even eliminated. I hope not. These are the best sources of long-term research which provides best answers to animal systems-type questions.


However, more and more of the research at Land Grant institutions is funded by companies that have something to sell to livestock producers. It is a real stretch to get a skeptic like me to believe there is no bias in the published results, especially after having been involved in a couple of studies which were never published because the results were unfavorable for the products being studied.


So, I have two questions: How much “grant money” research is unpublished because of unfavorable results that might affect the sales of product or the next round of grant money? How can a researcher not be somewhat biased in the structure of the research when he/she is concerned about the continuing flow of grant money? Makes me wonder what happened to the original intent of the “Land Grant” institutions?


How much research money is spent on chemicals—fertilizers, pest control, growth enhancers, etc.?  Can I suggest that perhaps we should spend an equal amount or even more trying to learn how to farm and ranch while reducing or even eliminating the need for these inputs?


I have seen people become more profitable while greatly reducing or eliminating the use of most of these inputs. This is a great area for exploration, but doesn’t fit the mold of short-term, quick studies in the “publish or perish” world of many research instutions. Agricultural production systems are extremely complex and multi-faceted, requiring years of study through a convergence of scientific disciplines to reach good understanding.


Why so much reliance on government money and regulation? ...


What is needed for a change in mindset?


What about feedlots and other animal confinement operations?


What about climate change? Are cows to blame?