Feed Lot

FEB 2018

Feedlots and cow/calf operations in the beef industry who feed 500 or more has annually on grains and concentrates; maintain 500 or more beef cows; backgrounder, stocker/grower, preconditioner; veterinarian, nutritionist, consultant

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meeting live animal requirements in 2017 came in at a record 65%, a 3-per- centage-point increase for the year. Large weekly cattle harvest rates were not only noted on the younger fed cattle, but on cull cows a s w e l l . T h e b e e f c o w h a r v e s t was up 9.7% on the year. Three fac- tors likely initiating that beef cow flow were drought in the Dakotas and Montana, a larger total cow population to cull from and declin- ing feeder calf values. Measurable increases in fed heifers entering packing plants, up 12% on the year, provided a signal of slowing herd expansion in 2017. That number alone doesn't prove the case, but taken in contrast with their steer counterparts, up just 2%, it becomes clear that heifer reten- tion was a smaller goal in 2017. The coming two years are slated to see cow numbers continue to g row at a slowing pace as the ex- pansion phase of the cattle cycle d raws to a close. Continued pro- jections for low grain prices will be a factor to watch as diversified producers raising grain and cattle may cast a more favorable eye to- ward the cow-calf profit centers, prompting some reallocation of farm resources. Domestic and international beef demand was strong in 2017 in the face of growing total beef and com- peting protein supplies. A healthier U.S. economy and low unemploy- ment has proven friendly to beef sales but the international trade bal- ance was just as important. Year on year export sales to Japan and South Korea were tremendous de- spite the disadvantageous tariff po- sition held by the U.S. relative to our competition. Analysts agree that de- mand will need to prove out again in the coming year as record protein supplies are in the offing. FL FEED•LOT  February 2018 11

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