Kyle Dean, Host: 9:39 and back here on WTIF Market Monday time. Joining us in studio is Curt Lacy, Cattle Economist UGA Tifton. Good morning to you!
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: Hey Kyle.
Kyle Dean, Host: It’s not spring break for you guys, is it? [laughter]
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: No, that was a week or so ago.
Kyle Dean, Host: It was. Did you enjoy it?
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: Yes, we did.
Kyle Dean, Host: Well, good to hear it. Of course, you bring us what’s going on in the beef industry every 3 weeks and there was a crop report that came out. Tell us a little bit about it does and how it directly relates to cattle and the cattle industry.
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: Ok, sure. The importance of the crop reports when they come out, of course, feeds are a major input as we get into the feeding phase of the animals and so projections on those prices, availability, all those types of things are big deals to cattle producers. The report that came out on Friday, basically it had a couple of really important items for us. First of all, it looks like the stocks of corn going into the latter part of the year are going to be a lot tighter, or some tighter maybe not a lot, but some tighter than what we were expecting. The other thing is it looks like we’re going to plant much more corn than a lot of the trade analysts were expecting. Of course, I know that Nathan and Don will be in in a week or 2 to go more into that, but it looks like we’re going to plant somewhere in the neighborhood of 95-96 million acres of corn which is about 3 to 4 million more than we planted last year. For the cattle producers, what that means is that in terms of prices, if we can make it through this marketing year which will get us to the end of August or into September, once we get there then it looks like hopefully we’ll have more corn next year, should lower prices of corn, higher prices for cattle. So that’s kind of the way it works, lower prices of feed, higher prices of cattle for the producer.
Kyle Dean, Host: And, I tell you, that crop report, I saw something that just came through from Don Shurley and it was talking about less cotton which doesn’t particularly affect the cattle, but it has the gain from somewhere and I guess corn is the one that’s gaining from that lack of cotton.
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: I guess so, and I haven’t looked at where the acreage shifts when. I know that they were talking about that there were going to be a lot more acres in the high plains, in the Dakotas and up in that area. Of course, you know they plant so much cotton up in that area that… [Dean: laughter. Of course]. They don’t plant a lot of cotton up there.
Kyle Dean, Host: Was that your April Fool’s joke?
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: Yeah.
Kyle Dean, Host: [laughter] Well, Curt, tell us a little about….there’s been some things, if you read Facebook, you see the pink stuff on there that people are kind of protesting that. Can you tell us what it is, maybe educate some folks on what exactly that stuff is and how it relates to the cattle industry?
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: I can try. You have to be open to these types of things. But really, lean, finely textured beef is the actual product. And it does come from beef.Contrary to many of the misconceptions out there, it is a beef product. What it is is actually the trimmings from the packing processes. They have some of the trim that’s left from when they’re cutting out steaks and roasts and those types of things. You have to do something with that stuff. So, they take it and instead of throwing it away, what they do is they take it and run it through this process, they add a couple of chemicals that they add to it to really just sanitize it to remove any pathogens, that’s all they are. You’re not trying to change the nutritional content; there’s no enzymes, there’s none of that. Anyway, they take that and then they convert that into this lean, finely textured beef. It’s been around for years. It’s a perfectly safe product. It’s a good source of protein. We talk about nowadays with so many kids being overweight, in some instances with the lack of availability of food, and we can utilize this, especially in our school lunch programs to make those food dollars stretch. It’s a really safe, really economical program. From a consumer standpoint, consumers shouldn’t be concerned about that. From the cattle production standpoint, one of the things that happens is once you remove that product from the mix, then what happens is now all this trim you have to do something with it and so it’s going to go into the market where it’s going to be cheaper. On average, it looks like it could cost the feeding industry, and guys that feed cattle, somewhere in the neighborhood of $3-$4 a head. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you talk about the number of head that we go through in a year, it really adds up. And let’s not forget that there has been about 250-300 people that have lost their jobs over this simply from the fact that they closed the plants down and so now those people are looking for a job.
Kyle Dean, Host: So that trickledown effect really comes into play.
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: Trickledown economics are real.
Kyle Dean, Host: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about a cattlemen’s convention that’s coming up or soon to be coming up.
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: The Georgia Cattlemen’s Association is having their annual convention and conference this Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Perry. That’s also the same time as the Beef Expo. The cattlemen’s convention is going Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning. And then on Wednesday, we’re having a forage conference, a grazing conference for cattle producers. If you haven’t signed up and you’re interested in going, hopefully we’ll get some rain this week, so you probably won’t have anything else to do, that would be a nice thought anyway. You can g
Kyle Dean, Host: [laughter] We’ll do that. Of course, we talk about grazing and forage and summer is coming up. It’s obviously already in the high 80s. It was yesterday. I’ve got a red arm to prove it sitting out in the yard yesterday afternoon. Talk about summer and what this means, how hot we’re getting so early and what that does for cattle.
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: Certainly, if your cattle aren’t adapted to this environment, it can create a problem. Heat stress is very real in cattle, especially if you don’t have cattle that are adapted to this area. It can create a lot of problems for them especially as it gets too hot. Their food consumption goes down, they won’t eat as much. You’ll notice a lot of times that when it gets really hot, you won’t see cows out in the pasture, you’ll see them up under the trees. They’ll eat early in the day and late in the evening typically. But those that are adapted to this area, you’ll see them grazing throughout the day. Of course, when they’re not eating, they’re not gaining. Calves aren’t growing. So summertime, there’s a happy medium in there of we want warm temperatures to get our grasses to grow because we really do need those, but when it gets so hot, in the 90s and 100s, that makes it really, really hard on the cattle to grow and gain and of course, that can impact the producers…the money that the producers get as well.
Kyle Dean, Host: Because they’ve got to feed them a little bit more at different times. Talk about what it costs on average or maybe a consumption rate that maybe an average cow or heifer maybe goes through. Can you give me some sort of round about numbers of that?
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: In general, a cow’s going to eat somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 to 2.5% of their body weight a day. And that’s on a dry matter basis when you take out the water. If you think about a cow that weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of say 1200 pounds, which many of our do, then you’re talking somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 to 30 pounds of food a day after you remove the water. If hay is 15% wet, 15% moisture, so you talking somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 35 pounds of hay if you just feeding them hay in a given day. Of course, we try not to give them hay and the grass they are eating is much higher in moisture content so there are a lot of groceries that go into a cow. You can use that number in general. It’s usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 2, 2.5% of their body weight whether they’re a mature cow, growing calf or any of those types of things.
Kyle Dean, Host: We need to take them to our yards and let them be the grass cutters for a little while?
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: If your wife will let you do that, I would suggest it!
Kyle Dean, Host: [laughter] Curt, as always, great information. We appreciate your coming by on this Monday morning.
Curt Lacy, UGA Tifton Cattle Economist: Glad to do it.
Kyle Dean, Host: Alright, be back after this on WTIF.