Two decades of Cow-Calf Corner draws worldwide readership
Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Media Contact: Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cow-Calf Corner weekly newsletter published by Oklahoma State University Extension beef management and livestock marketing specialists is celebrating 20 years with nearly 1,600 subscribers worldwide.
Established in 2003 by past OSU Extension animal reproduction specialist Glenn Selk, the newsletter features timely columns on herd management and market analysis for cow-calf producers. Much of the information is also shared in regular segments on SUNUP, the weekly television show of OSU Agriculture.
Cattle news based on research
Selk launched the newsletter with a small list of email addresses he first collected at an annual Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association convention. His intent was to support cattle producers by providing research-based information on a relevant management topic each week. To complement the new publication, he recruited the expertise of Derrell Peel, OSU Extension livestock marketing specialist.
“I asked Derrell to join me and write a column on what influences the markets and the different aspects of helping producers predict what the future is going to hold,” Selk said. “I wanted the information to help cattlemen and women make management decisions, purchase hay and buy or sell cows. I was thinking ‘big picture’ to benefit their operations.”
Peel’s columns, with an economic focus, cover a wide range of perspectives — from ranch-level management and marketing decision-making to national cattle market conditions, global beef and cattle trade.
“My intent is to provide producers with information to make sound and timely economic decisions and to understand market conditions that will help them be best positioned strategically to benefit from changing market situations,” Peel said.
Weekly market updates
In the past 20 years, Peel has addressed numerous industry challenges and opportunities, discussing how difficult situations can often lead to positive outcomes in an operation.
“For example, we have experienced several droughts that are challenges for producers to manage through with limited forage, higher costs and forced liquidation, but they later turn into market opportunities as the industry recovers and rebuilds cattle inventories,” Peel said. “The pandemic in 2020 was particularly hard due to the unprecedented shocks in beef and cattle markets. The newsletter provided a way to provide timely information to the industry in a period of tremendous uncertainty.”
County Extension educators also receive the Cow-Calf Corner newsletter, and the weekly email continues to expand its readership. Educators share the information in their local newspaper columns, radio programs and other newsletters. It is printed and passed around feed stores, co-ops and community spaces frequently visited by producers.
“Our thought was we’ve got this information that is valuable to folks,” Selk said. “We weren’t selling anything. We were trying to get good, research-based information to as many people as possible.”
The Cow-Calf Corner newsletter team has received feedback from readers across the U.S. as well as other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.
“I have received follow-up from readers all across the country and around the world,” said Peel. “The newsletter has led to several additional programs and invitations to speak outside the U.S.”
“It’s shocking how widely it’s distributed in other Extension service newsletters and popular press groups,” said Paul Beck, a regular contributor and OSU Extension beef nutrition specialist. “The ‘Western Stockman’ picks it up — a publication all the way out in the Pacific Northwest. Some information is Oklahoma-specific, but it has broad usage and implications.”
The weekly topic is often based on feedback OSU Extension specialists receive from producers in real-time, answering critical questions that can affect herd health and safety. Management guidance on wheat pasture grazing can save producers thousands of dollars by preventing fatal herd hazards.
“Because it’s a weekly newsletter, we can address wheat pasture bloat and even send out extra editions that cover risks such as prussic acid toxicity,” Beck said. “We’re able to answer questions quickly and change direction when putting together the newsletter to address emergencies.”
Mark Johnson, Cow-Calf Corner columnist and OSU Extension livestock evaluation specialist, said readers send positive feedback on both short- and long-term management challenges they face daily.
“I believe the newsletter is important because we address timely topics that are of relevance to what is happening on a weekly basis,” Johnson said. “For example, last summer and fall when Oklahoma was in a terrible drought, our newsletter was addressing how to mitigate heat stress, culling criteria for cows, benefits of early weaning, the importance of water, the benefits of retaining ownership and feeding non-traditional hays. Feedback from producers has been positive because we were getting out helpful information in a timely fashion relative to what cow-calf producers were dealing with on a daily basis.”
Goal: 2,000 subscribers
After two decades of herd applications and research, the Cow-Calf Corner team hopes to achieve 2,000 subscribers and continue to serve as the world standard in cow-calf management.
“I can answer one person’s question with a farm visit or phone call, but Cow-Calf Corner offers a lot broader reach when it needs to be shared quickly,” Beck said.
Agricultural research throughout OSU’s land-grant system is the foundation of the publication that supports not only local producers but also the global beef industry.
“The progression of Cow-Calf Corner focuses on helping people who are trying to make a living, produce food for the other 98% of the population and maintain their ranching operation so that it’s healthy and financially sound enough to pass it on to the next generation,” Selk said.