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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

Monthly Archives: March 2012

USDA released on Friday its latest estimates of the number of cattle on feed as of March 1, 2012. The results from the monthly survey came in very close to pre-report estimates

– Total cattle on feed on March 1 were estimated at 11.677 million head, about 2.6% higher than a year ago. Pre-report estimates were looking for a 2.3% increase in overall inventory but on a net level the USDA survey was only a few thousand head larger than analyst estimates.

– On average analysts expected total placements to be up 2.7% from the previous year. The USDA report pegged total placements in feedlots that had 1000 or more head on feed at 1.714 million head, 2.8% higher than a year ago.

– The number of cattle marketed was estimated at 1.755 million head, 2% lower than a year ago and smaller than pre-report estimates which were looking for a 0.5% decline in marketings. Overall the feedlot inventory showed that we continue to have more cattle on feed but high breakevens on those cattle will continue to make feedlots reluctant in aggressively marketing cattle. April will be critical for feedlots as retailers and foodservice operators get in gear for the start of the grilling season.

It remains to be seen if all the negative stories about LFTB have any lasting impact on ground beef demand. Ground beef accounts for between 40-45% of all beef consumed in the US.

Cattle carcass weights are now record large for this time of year and on Friday USDA pegged cattle carcass weights at 792 pounds, about 23 pounds or 3% higher than a year ago. The year over year increase in cattle weights in part reflects heavier cattle in feedlots but also more steers in the mix compared to last year.

Based on the USDA monthly statistics, February FI US cattle slaughter was 2.515 million head, 2.5% lower than a year ago. And yet, total production for the month at 1.981 billion pounds was down just 0.6% from a year ago.


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Recent rains in the region greatly turned around the agricultural situation. Winter wheat has come on vigorously, along with wild rye in pastures. All areas reported that pastures were in good condition.

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Testing for Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) pesticide applicator licenses will be held at the Wichita County Extension office on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. This testing will be for all classes of TDA pesticide applicator licenses: Private, Commercial, and Non-Commercial. Pre-registration is required. Call TDA at (214) 631-0265 to pre-register.

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Although the Highway Bill (S.1813) has been a victim of partisan politics, according to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reached an agreement on the consideration of a series of amendments to the Highway Bill. Two of those amendments, which passed today, are of particular importance for farm and ranch families. Specifically, an amendment brought forth by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) will exempt drivers of farm vehicles from having to acquire a commercial driver’s license. Another amendment, introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), will waive hours of service restrictions during harvest seasons.

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Saw my first Bird Cherry-Oat Aphids in a field south of Burk today. While populations were mimimal, they bear watching as they are a vector for Barley dwarf virus. Generally treatment is not necessary. Chlorpyrifos chemistry is effective.


Why does the food industry keep playing the blame game while our kids keep getting fatter?

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