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Cow-Calf Corner • The Newsletter

Monday, January 10, 2022

Beef and Cattle Trade Boosting Cattle Markets

Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist


Beef exports continued on a record pace in the latest data for November.  Total beef exports were up 8.1 percent in November and are up 18.5 percent year over year for the first eleven months of the year.  The China/Hong Kong market remains the fastest growing beef export market, up 110.0 percent for the year-to-date.  The China/HK market is the third largest market accounting for 19.3 percent share of total beef exports through November, behind number one Japan (24.2 percent share) and number two South Korea at 23.0 percent of year-to-date exports.  Beef exports to Mexico are up 7.0 percent so far in 2021 but were down 36.7 year over year in the month of November.  Exports to Canada were up 20.9 percent year over year in November but are down 4.7 percent for the January-November period.


Total beef imports were 27.5 percent higher year over year in November but are down 1.8 percent for the year-to-date for the January-November period.  Beef imports from Canada were up 14.4 percent for the first eleven months of the year.  Canada is currently the largest source of beef imports, accounting for 28.6 percent of beef imports thus far in 2021.  Mexico is the second ranked beef import source with year-to-date imports up slightly at 0.3 percent compared to last year.  Mexico accounts for 20.1 percent of beef imports through November.  Year-to-date beef imports from New Zealand through November were down 1.7 percent with the country the third largest beef import source at 15.5 of total beef imports in 2021.  Australia is currently the fourth largest source of beef imports, accounting for 12.4 percent of imports and down from second place in 2020.  Year-to-date beef imports from Australia through November were down 38.9 percent year over year.


Live cattle imports from both Canada and Mexico were down for the first eleven months of 2021.  Total cattle imports were down 17.0 percent with imports from Canada down 7.1 percent and Mexico down 21.9 percent for the year-to-date.  Cattle exports were higher to Canada and Mexico by 69.1 percent year over year for the January to November period in 2021.  Net cattle imports through November were down 32.0 percent compared to the previous year.


Beef by-products, which are mostly exported, had significantly higher value in 202, averaging nearly 54 percent higher year over year.  By-product value increases were led by sharply higher tallow prices, both edible and inedible, (up 71 and 95 percent, respectively) and hide prices (up 62 percent year over year).  Prices were also higher for liver, tongue, tripe and cheek meat. Weekly by-product values peaked in November and declined to the end of the year but were still 51 percent higher year over year in late December. 


Beef and cattle trade is projected to be generally supportive in 2022.  Beef exports are forecast to pull back slightly in the coming year but lower imports are also forecast this year.  After more than a year of extremely rapid growth, the China/HK market for U.S. beef was growing at a slower pace at the end of 2021, but continued growth is expected and could push China/HK above South Korea or possibly Japan in the foreseeable future.



The Calving Process – Understanding the Three Stages of Parturition

Mark Z. Johnson, Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Cattle Breeding Specialist


Parturition, or the birthing process, has three stages. Understanding the stages is critical in order to know when/if we need to provide assistance during calving season to increase the likelihood a live calf is born alive and off to a good start.


Stage 1: Dilation of the Cervix.  The may take hours or days to complete and can easily go unnoticed.  Uterine muscular activity is quiet during this stage as the cervix softens and the pelvic ligaments relax. During this stage, you may notice switching of the tail and a thick clear mucus string hanging from the vagina.  Cow’s appetite may decrease and they may separate themselves off from the herd.  Increased uterine contractions at the end of this stage push uterine contents against the cervix causing further dilation. 


Stage 2:  Delivery of the Calf.  This stage officially begins with the appearance of the water bag at the vulva.  This is the time to start your clock.  Recent research has found that healthy heifers with normal calf presentation will calve unassisted within one hour of the onset of stage two.  Healthy cows with normal calf presentation will calve within 22 minutes of the start of stage two.  This suggests that normal stage two of parturition should be defined as approximately 60 minutes for heifers and 30 minutes for adult cows. In heifers, not only is the pelvic opening smaller, but the soft tissue has never been expanded prior to that first birth. Older cows have had deliveries before and birth often proceeds quite rapidly unless there is some abnormality such as a very large calf, backwards calf or twin birth.


When Should We Assist? Offering assistance is a matter of judgement and good judgement is the result of experience.  If you have a cow or heifer laboring and don’t know when stage two began you will need to do a vaginal exam.  If possible, have the cow up on her feet, restrained in a well-lit area that is safe for both you and the cow. It is much easier when both you and the cow are standing.  Start by cleaning the cow’s vulva, rectum and surrounding area, as well as your hands and arms with soap and water.  Cleanliness is important.  Wear protective sleeves.  Gentleness and lubrication are important.  Feel for the cervix, if not dilated it will feel as if your hand passes through or along a firm, tubular or circular structure.  Once fully dilated, you should no longer feel the cervical ridge.  Can you feel the calf?  A normal anterior presentation will permit you to feel the calf’s feet and nose with the spine of the calf resting just under the cow’s spine.  If the presentation is normal and the water bag is still intact around the calf, you can allow up to an hour to permit the cow to calf unassisted.  If the water bag has broken and the cervix is fully dilated, the calf needs to be delivered sooner.  If you detect an abnormal presentation, encounter something that doesn’t feel right or a situation you can’t manage, you will need to contact a veterinarian for assistance. 


Stage 3: Delivery of the Placenta.  The placenta should be shed within 8 – 12 hours after delivery of the calf.  If retained, do not forcibly remove it.  Administering antibiotics may be necessary if the cow acts sick.  The placenta will slough out in 4 – 7 days.


Reference: The 3 Stages of Bovine Parturition.


Watch Glenn Selk discuss the stages of parturition on a classic Sunup TV Cow-Calf Corner segment from January 11, 2020.



Upcoming Surveys for Oklahoma Cow-Calf Producers

Kellie Raper, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist


Two important cattle-related surveys will be launched by Oklahoma State University in late January, including the Oklahoma Cow-Calf Biosecurity Survey and the Oklahoma Beef Management and Marketing Survey. Not all producers will receive a survey and, if you do, you will only receive one of the surveys – not both. You may have already received a “heads-up” postcard as a potential survey participant in December or early January. If so, please keep an eye out for the mail survey, which will be coming from the Southern Plains Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma Cow-Calf Biosecurity Survey

Infectious diseases are a constant threat for producers, as well as for the national herd, the supply chain, and critically important international trade. Disease costs a producer money. Biosecurity seeks to prevent diseases before they occur and to limit the impact of an outbreak. Good biosecurity at its most fundamental level is good animal husbandry. Many operations practice good biosecurity on a daily basis, but they may not refer to it as “biosecurity.”

The purpose of the Biosecurity survey is to learn more about producers’ biosecurity practices and why some biosecurity practices are more widely adopted than others. The Biosecurity survey will help us index biosecurity practices by adoption rate, cost effectiveness, applicability to cow-calf operations and barriers to on-farm adoption. Ultimately, it will help us develop extension programming to educate producers and their teams, including veterinarians, on cost effective biosecurity practices that can be implemented on-farm right now.


This survey effort is funded by a USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services, National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program grant. The OSU team is led by Dr. Amy Hagerman (Agricultural Economics), Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, DVM (Veterinary Clinical Sciences), Dr. Kellie Curry Raper (Agricultural Economics), and Dr. Barry Whitworth, DVM, from Extension. Producers that have questions regarding the survey may contact Dr. Hagerman at or Dr. Biggs at

Oklahoma Beef Management and Marketing Survey


Also coming to selected producers’ mailboxes in early 2022 is the 2022 Oklahoma Beef Management and Marketing Survey, a survey that you may have received before. This survey recurs approximately every 5 years and is commonly referred to as the OSU Cow-Calf Survey.

The Oklahoma Beef Management and Marketing Survey is a periodic effort to better understand the decisions you make regarding herd management and, in particular, calf management and marketing. This information gives us insight into issues specific to you as part of Oklahoma’s beef industry, helping us update current extension programs and develop new program efforts where needed so that we can better serve you. It also provides a continuing benchmark for comparison of adoption rates of various recommended management practices and other important producer decisions.

This survey effort is funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant and is led by Dr. Kellie Curry Raper (Agricultural Economics) and Dr. Derrell Peel (Agricultural Economics). If you have questions regarding the Oklahoma Beef Management and Marketing Survey, you may contact Dr. Raper at or Dr. Peel at


We know that completing surveys can be tedious, but please know that your input is valuable to us and helps us to better assist you through relevant extension programming that supports you in meeting some of the challenges that you face as a producer. These two surveys, though separate efforts, have been also been designed to have some linkages so we get a better “big picture” of your needs as producers. Both surveys are designed to guide you through only the parts that apply to you, whether you are a cow/calf producer or not. If you receive one of these surveys in early 2022, we strongly encourage you to respond. Thank you!

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