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Markets and management discussed

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Kansas State University (KSU) Beef Cattle Institute’s (BCI) podcast Cattle Chat hosted KSU Veterinarian Bob Larson and KSU Associate Professor Dustin Pendell to discuss market trends and opportunities for the cow/calf producer, in addition to some winter pasture management considerations.

Slaughter cow rate

Recently, the industry has seen an increase in cull and sale cows and heifers moving to slaughter. Cattle Chat Host Brad White asks Larson and Pendell how this is affecting operations and cow/calf producers.

“There is an impact today, but in six to nine months, 12 months to years down the road, when we start seeing a smaller supply of cattle, it’s going to translate to upward pressure on prices assuming demand,” says Pendell. 

Moving into the future, livestock have the potential to be worth more. Larson and White suggest if producers have the resources and feed, they may want to consider purchasing some of these animals at a bargain price, compared to an increased price in the future. 

“Purchasing replacement heifers and feeder cows has both good and bad components,” mentions Larson. “The good components are there is an opportunity to buy good, under-valued cattle because supply is stripping demand in a lot of these situations. However, the negative is producers can bring diseases they haven’t seen before on to their operations.” 

The last time the beef industry saw big movement caused by drought, operations experienced an increase in trichomoniasis. Larson encourages producers to consider these animals as high-risk and quarantine them upon arrival for a period of time to ensure they are heathy and won’t cause problems when mixing them with the rest of the herd.

“Yes, it’s an opportunity to buy some replacement cows or heifers to expand a herd at a lower price, but there is a risk associated in doing so,” Larson says. 

White mentions trichomoniasis is a silent disease and many producers won’t realize cattle are sick or infected until they are pregnant. Larson encourages producers to work with their local veterinarian to discuss trichomoniasis control and prevention. 

Winter pasture

Larson notes cattle are well adapted to cold temperatures and can handle colder temperatures better than other animals can. 

“With this being said, cattle still need a good environment,” he shares. “Things like wind chill and the difference between a dry and wet winter matter. Sometimes during really early winter storms, before it gets too cold or late spring rains, there’s more of a temperature threat to cattle compared to weather in the dead of winter when it’s typically drier.” 

KSU faculty mentions producers may want to consider putting up a wind block or structure to keep cattle warm and dry. 

“If producers build a windbreak for cattle to congregate behind, and it’s not big enough, it can create some problems,” Larson says. “In a pasture situation, cattle will find the best area to get out of inclement weather. However, in a dry lot, a wind block or structure may be a better consideration but can create more of a problem.” 

As producers consider wind blocks, structure investment or structure management, they may also want to think about where they feed. 

Larson says producers will want to be prepared for the worst days and make feed convenient for cattle. When weather is milder, producers may want to move feed to a different location to avoid buildup of manure. 

“There’s the day-to-day plan for getting cattle through the winter,” concludes Larson. “But producers also need a plan for when there is a blizzard.”

Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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