Ruminations of the cattle business for 2021 and what to expect in 2022

ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – Even though there was some uncertainty in the beef industry in 2021, 2022 is already looking more optimistic.

ImagePurina Animal Nutrition Ph.D. breeding consultants Chad Zehnder (Minnesota), Doug Hawkins (Texas) and Martha Moen (Florida) reflect on trends from last year and what to expect in 2022:

Zehnder

What opportunities 2021 has it presented?



Zehnder: From the middle of the year we saw a rise in the prices of feeder cattle and feeder cattle. We are headed in the right direction and people have the opportunity to take advantage of it. Adding more weight before and during weaning has helped growers capitalize on the momentum.

How will this year’s weather challenges impact the forages of the coming year?



Zehnder: From a drought perspective, we stuck with traditional management methods. Producers have been proactive in the diligent culling of the cows. The early weaning calves helped reduce the nutritional requirements of the cows to try to stretch forages. And we’re getting creative in finding alternative forages. Conservation reserve program land has been opened in some areas, and we have baled a lot of CRP hay. So we’re using a lot of low-quality forages this winter, and additional nutrition will be essential in the coming year.

What have producers done to deal with rising input costs?

Zehnder: The drought has pushed up the prices of fodder and grains. We’re looking to add more weight outside of the feedlot, which traditionally happens when feed prices get high. With higher input costs, producers now need to take a closer look at technologies, like feed additives and implants, to improve feed efficiency. We should try to capture all possible efficiencies to add weight cost effectively.

What can growers learn from this year and carry forward to next year?

Zehnder: Have a plan for when and where to spend the money, whether it’s fertilizer, fuel, or supplements. Do not have knee-jerk reactions when it comes time to calve, breed or feed forages. Get a plan on paper now to be ready to implement changes more effectively.

Hawkins

What opportunities 2021 has it presented?

Hawkins: With an abundance of humidity in my area, we are seeing producers in the southern plains buying livestock in areas affected by drought. Overall Texas cow numbers are still on the decline since the 2011-13 droughts, but some ranches are taking action to thrive when times are good.

How will this year’s weather challenges impact the forages of the coming year?

Hawkins: In my area of ​​Texas and Louisiana there was an abundance of rain which brought in a lot of forage. However, the quality of the forage is not where we would like it to be, so extra protein and fat will be needed for many herds.

What have producers done to deal with rising input costs?

Hawkins: Cattle producers took these input prices as they come. Nothing is ever frozen in beef production. Producers have been flexible in overcoming the situation by setting prices when they can.

What can growers learn from this year and carry forward to next year?

Hawkins: Put the pencil to your diet. There are cheap pet foods that have lower quality ingredients, but you are going to pay for what you get in this market. Performance dictates the quality of the feed. The cost of gain or the cost per head per day is always the way to build a nutrition plan. Skimping on nutrition has long-term impacts on fetal programming, calf growth, reproduction rates and more.

Moen

What opportunities 2021 has it presented?

Moen: More and more producers are feeding and harvesting cattle for the direct beef market. Consumers want to know where their beef is coming from and beef producers are mobilizing to meet the demand.

What have producers done to deal with rising input costs?

Moen: How quickly input costs have increased and their impact on cow herd management has been telling. The higher prices of raw materials for corn and fuel have made it difficult to develop replacement heifers so effectively in the Southeast, as we also have to cover the cost of freight to move the grain. We will be pushing more forage into these heifers, but they will not develop as quickly as we would like.

What can growers learn from this year and carry forward to next year?

Moen: Look what the cattle and grain futures markets are doing. Be flexible in your management and marketing plans. Stay progressive and ready to adjust if the markets change.

Trends to watch

Uncertainty is one of the few certainties in beef production. Weather conditions and unique events can change markets and the way livestock are managed. However, there are a few industry trends that point to an encouraging near-term outlook:

Consumer demand for beef has reached an all-time high over the past 30 years.

The pandemic is not over, but there could be more rebound as the economy recovers and the world returns to a new normal.

The three Purina experts agree that the immediate future of the beef industry looks bright and forward-thinking producers are in a privileged position to capitalize.

Zehnder is a Beef Cattle Nutritionist at Purina Animal Nutrition and has been with the company for 19 years from his farm in Minnesota. Zehnder received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. in Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management from the University of Minnesota.

Hawkins is a Beef Cattle Nutritionist at Purina Animal Nutrition and has been a field consultant for the company since 1999. Originally from Texas, Hawkins earned his Masters and PhD. from Texas A&M University.

Moen is a breeding consultant with Central Florida-based Purina Animal Nutrition and has been with the company for five years. She got her doctorate. in Agronomy from Texas A&M University, where she focused on the application of fibrolytic enzymes and bacterial inoculants to sorghum silage and small grain hay.