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Cow-Calf Corner • The Newsletter

Monday, November 22, 2021

November Cattle Market Update

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


The November USDA-NASS Cattle on Feed report was well anticipated and should not cause big surprises in the market.  Feedlot placements in October were 2.245 million head, 102.4 percent of last year.  Marketings in October were 1.788 million head, 95.5 percent of one year ago. There was one less business day in October 2021 compared to last year, so average daily marketings were equal to last year.  The November 1 on-feed total was 11.948 million head, 99.8 percent of last year.  Though the November feedlot inventory was only fractionally lower than last year, it does make the fifth consecutive month of year over year declines in feedlot totals.


Average fed steers and heifer prices were reported at $134-135/cwt. for the end of the week prior to Thanksgiving.  After staying in the lower $120s since June, fed prices moved above $125/cwt. in the last week of October and pushed above $130 by the second week of November.  Market-ready supplies of fed cattle have tightened and packers are actively chasing cattle for the first time in many months. 


Prices for big feeder cattle have increased seasonally from September to November.  Average Oklahoma auction prices for 800-850 pound, M/L, No. 1steers have increased nearly 6 percent from September and are up about 21 percent from the beginning of the year.  This increase in feeder prices reflects generally tighter feeder cattle supplies and fed market optimism as reflected in Live Cattle futures prices in 2022.  This is despite sharply higher feedlot cost of gain, up 33 percent from January to September in Kansas feedlot surveys.  Stocker calf prices are up sharply from early October lows.  Prices for 450-500 pound, M/L, No. 1 steers are up 13 percent in the last seven weeks and are nearly 8 percent higher since the beginning of the year.


Oklahoma auction totals for feeder cattle are down 10.8 percent from last year for the first half of November.  However, year over year comparisons are complicated by the disruptions last year of the late October ice storm, which resulted in severely reduced auction volumes the last week of October 2020 and larger volumes in November to catch up.  Thus, total feeder volumes at auction are up 8.1 percent year over year since early October. 


Cull cow prices have been somewhat volatile this fall as support from strong lean meat markets wrestles with seasonal pressure and elevated cow slaughter totals.  Average boning cow prices in Oklahoma have averaged 15 percent higher year over year in October and November, but with considerable week to week volatility.  Beef cow slaughter is 8.7 percent higher year over year for the year to date.  This fall the year over year increases have been smaller, up 6.5 percent in the last eight weeks of data, indicating that some of the normal fall culling likely occurred earlier in the year due to drought.


In general, cattle prices are higher now compared to last year and are expected to continue improving in 2022.  Live and Feeder futures have priced in considerable optimism for 2022. However, plenty of challenges remain for cattle producers with continued drought, higher input prices, supply chain disruptions and considerable short-term macroeconomic uncertainty.  It will still be a bumpy ride, but producers can focus more on managing costs with cattle prices generally moving higher.




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


“Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” is an American advertising slogan and marketing campaign aimed at promoting the consumption of beef.  The ad campaign, originally launched in 1992, has been long-lived, highly effective and award winning.  The slogan is said to be recognized by more than 88% of Americans, accordingly, I borrowed from this well-known phrase for my title.


Thanksgiving is a time when Americans come together to celebrate a holiday that connects each and every one of us.  The holiday was first celebrated in 1621 when the Plymouth settlers, joined with the Wampanoag Indians to enjoy a fall feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest.  The tradition of Thanksgiving became official when President George Washington declared the nation would celebrate the day on November 26, 1789.  President Abraham Lincoln wrote a proclamation declaring all states would celebrate the day in 1863.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a resolution from Congress in 1941 that established the official date of Thanksgiving to be the fourth Thursday in November each year.  While Thanksgiving is observed in varied ways in different nations, in American the holiday is truly rooted in agriculture.  We may bring our own flavors and traditions to the table but Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to celebrate our nation’s harvest and ability to efficiently produce food, to express gratitude for our blessings, and look ahead to the future. 


Alexander Hamilton once proclaimed: “No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day”.  With all due respect to Mr. Hamilton whose ideas are credited with laying the foundation for American government and finance, I encourage you to make plans to enjoy BEEF this year at Thanksgiving.  Please give consideration to the following when planning.


1. How much time do you have to spend cooking?

 If your answer is not much, consider grilling or pan frying.  Middle meats from the beef carcass like ribeye, strip loin, filet and sirloin steaks are very tender and can be cooked quickly at high temps on the grill or stove top to seal in the tenderness, juiciness and flavor.  If you intend to grill or pan fry steaks remember to give them adequate time to thaw.  Burgers made from ground beef are also great when grilled or pan fried.


If you have more time to spend in preparation, smoking or oven roasting can result in the same tender, succulent beef flavor.  Roasts from the chuck or round can be seasoned and slow cooked to bring out “melt in your mouth” flavor.  Beef brisket is ideal for smoking and slow cooking.  An intact rib roast also can work great for smoking or slow cooking.


2. What is your budget?

Typically the steaks or middle meats will be the more expensive cuts to purchase.  The cuts that require more cooking time (because they contain more connective tissue) can be purchased at a lower price per pound.  Ground beef is also less expensive.


More information about cooking methods, recipes and beef cuts can be found at  Regardless of the cut of beef you enjoy this Thanksgiving you will be eating a nutrient dense, delicious source of protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc that is a healthy diet choice.


This year on Thanksgiving, I want to say thanks to America’s farmers, ranchers and everyone in production agriculture that make it possible.  Whatever we eat on Thanksgiving Day, it is the ingenuity, perseverance, efficiency, work ethic and “can do” attitude of America’s ag producers that permit us to spend a relatively small percentage of our income on food. 


Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy BEEF for Thanksgiving!  


Watch OSU Extension beef cattle breeding specialist Mark Johnson explains why switching out your turkeys for beef might be a good idea for Thanksgiving. Cow-Calf Corner: Beef for Thanksgiving? - YouTube



Vaccine Handling and Storage

Bob LeValley, Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator


The highest quality vaccine that producers purchase may be of little value if not handled and stored properly.  Even experienced producers may overlook key principles when preparing and administering vaccines and other animal health products.  Product storage and handling is important to ensure that the efficacy of the products is not compromised. 


Modified live vaccines must be reconstituted with a sterile diluent prior to administration.  It is generally recommended that these products be used within an hour of reconstitution.  The products are routinely used with a good response when administered and handled according to label directions.  The processing speed in a stocker operation is often considerably faster than a cow/calf operation.  Cow/calf processing facilities are often in area that are not well sheltered from the weather.  This stresses the need to exercise caution when handling and administering modified live products.  Common handling techniques can render MLV products ineffective and even reduce the effectiveness of killed vaccines and other products.


It is always a good practice to purchase vaccines from a reputable distributor. A vaccine will have less than normal effectiveness if it has ever been stored improperly.  Improper storage includes freezing, and/or exposure to heat or sunlight.  Maintaining a high level of efficacy is critical to establishing immunity in a majority of vaccinated cattle.  Vaccines should be stored in a dependable refrigerator that maintains a temperature (typically 35-45⁰ F) as directed by the product label. Chute side vaccine coolers work well for holding the vaccines during processing.  These coolers have slots for holding syringes after they are loaded, and vaccines are placed inside the cooler to maintain temperature.  Vaccine coolers can be purchased ready to put to use, or can easily be constructed by converting small coolers to this intended purpose.  Instructions for constructing an inexpensive vaccine cooler are available by clicking the “Chute Side Vaccine Cooler” link on the website.


It is also important to maintain a record of lot/serial numbers of products in the event of a recall or other situations that may arise.  A quick and easy method of recording the lot and serial numbers while working cattle is to simply to take a photo of the information on the vial label with a cell phone camera.  It can be transferred later to more permanent records.  Products that are out of date should be properly discarded.  Through proper record keeping, storage and handling, animal health products will be an effective piece of a comprehensive cattle health program. 


Dr. John Gilliam, Clinical Associate Professor for Food Animal with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma State University, discusses herd heath and vaccination. This webinar is part of the Thursday Rancher's Series and was presented on Sept. 17, 2020. OSU Extension: Herd Health and Vaccinations - YouTube

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