CAB Insider: 80% Choice & Prime; Herd Expansion Slows –

Weakness remains the theme in the fed cattle market as last week’s average came in just under $105/cwt., a $2 decline from the week prior. The total federally inspected harvest was smaller than expected at 622K, 2.7% smaller than the week before but 1.5% larger than the same week a year ago. Most of that reduction in processing came from a truncated Saturday harvest, estimated at 41K head compared to 56K head on the previous Saturday. The weekly cash market has led the recent downtrend while Live Cattle futures prices remained more resilient. Even with futures moving to a position of par, or above the cash market, cattle feeders have continued to sell cattle more willingly than some expected. Analysts are calling for a steady fed cattle market this week.

In the meantime, the national average Choice quality grade share two weeks ago was 74% with Prime coming in at 5.98%. The combined Choice and Prime grades for the last two reported weeks came to 80%, which is 4 percentage points higher than the same period a year ago. Steer carcass weights increased just 2 lb. in the last report to 884 lb. (about a 1,392-lb. live equivalent), which brings hanging weights to 9 lb. less than last year’s weight for this period but 2 lb. heavier than the 5-year average. Much attention will be given to the rate of progression of carcass weights from here until November, as a gauge of market currentness relative to head count and product tonnage.

Last week’s boxed beef spot market activity also showed continued negativity with the decline a bit slower than the prior two weeks. The CAB cutout was lower by $1.89/cwt. to average $201.53/cwt. while Choice boxes were down just 32¢/cwt. and Select down 14¢/cwt. CAB subprimals showed some mixed price direction across the carcass, most of the supportive pricing coming from the chuck complex with chuck rolls, square cut chucks, clods and flap meat. From the loin, there was improved interest on 0x1 strips and tri-tips as both of these items had recently dipped to prices below a year ago. Continued price pressure was noted on ribeyes as no price bump occurred in August, which was the case in each of the last five years excluding 2014. Ribeyes are now priced at 2013 levels on the wholesale spot market with an attractive value in last week’s average at $7.17/lb. The 5-year average indicates a fall beef cutout price bottom in the first part of October with the exceptions being 2014 and 2015. 

Prime numbers justify the records  

A year ago at this time in the Insider, we took a look at seasonality of the Prime cutout premium over the Choice cutout. Good old-fashioned supply and demand tend to create some seasonality with the highs and lows of the Prime/Choice premium spread, seasonal changes in harvested cattle and quality-grade dynamics impacting supply a fair amount. The share of fed cattle grading Prime tends to hit the annual low in the last week of June, a couple of weeks after the premium in the Prime cutout begins to build steam, headed toward the annual high in late July, where it remains elevated until the end of September. In the latest 5-year average, this increase has shown a move in the Prime premium from the low of $25/cwt. to the high of $38/cwt.

Yet this year the premium, which was rather lackluster from Jan. 1st to mid-May, cruised higher from that stagnation near $20/cwt., on up to an amazing $63.52/cwt. for the week of Aug. 21st—easily the largest Prime cutout premium over Choice on record. It has also been said that one large retailer’s advance purchase of a large volume of Prime ribeyes for delivery through the summer was a major factor in that pricing anomaly. The explanation seems plausible because it would take such a major factor to override the annual improvement in Prime supplies culminating over the past handful of years to the 2017 YTD increase in Prime tonnage. That’s estimated up 9%, with weekly Prime grading percentages the highest in modern history, averaging 5.5% of the fed cattle harvest since January 1st compared to 2015 at 4.76% and 2016 at 5.28% for the same inclusive period. Prime supplies will loosen up moving into October and November; grading will continue to build a richer carcass mix with heavier carcass weights and ample head counts. Packer grid premiums for Prime grading carcasses in the latest 4 weeks’ reports indicate an average premium of $19.60/cwt. with a range of $10 to $35/cwt. at the various firms. 

Breeding herds put the brakes on expansion  

Federally inspected cattle harvest this year is up 6%, with fed steers and heifers comprising 80% of that mix, as they have since 2014. The current increase in fed heifers is notable, with a YTD increase of 11.4% over 2016. Notable on a couple of fronts: First, the larger heifer count is in contrast to their steer counterparts, estimated at just 3.4% more numerous this year in the gender comparison. This generates a faster turnover rate of feedlot pens because heifers finish at lighter carcass weights than steers by a margin of 66 lb. so far this year. A growing national cow herd provides for more heifers that could enter the fed cattle mix, skewing a percentage increase comparison, but the much smaller growth in steer numbers makes for an easy contrast and an indicator that heifer retention in breeding herds has greatly slowed.

Similarly, the increase in the U.S. beef cow harvest over a year ago is rather stark with an uptick of 10.8% in 2017. Again, the January 1st Beef Cow Inventory Report suggested a 2.97% increase (+ 900K head), so the year-on-year increase of 5,046 head per week to this point would just remove 262K head from the cow herd by year’s end if the trend remained. However, in the past 6 weeks we’ve likely seen some effects of drought in the Northern Plains states of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota as the year-over-year change for those weeks accelerated to 6,460 head per week. Fall pregnancy checks of those spring calving herds will likely see the trend only increase as producers make the tough decisions to sell more cows than they’d like to, faced with restricted winter feed resources. 

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Cattle Slide to 9-month Low on Technicals, Weak Cash Markets … –

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures eased to the lowest levels since November on Thursday, pressured by technical selling and weaker cash cattle prices, traders said.

The most-active CME October live cattle contract knocked out its lows from last week, triggering selling that brought prices to fresh multimonth lows before they recouped a portion of their losses by the end of the session.

October cattle settled down 0.725 cent at 105.400 cents per pound. The settlement was nearly at parity with cash cattle trades in the southern U.S. Plains of $105 per cwt, which was down from sales last week of $106 to $107.

The August cattle contract expired at midday 1.025 cents lower at 104.525 cents. Cattle on a continuous chart declined 6.7 percent for the month, the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

“The market structure is not bullish … the chart continues to trend lower and needs to be respected,” said Top Third Ag Marketing broker Craig VanDyke, adding that cattle supplies were ample and beef production expected to increase in the fourth quarter.

Feeder cattle futures also eased, tracking declines in live cattle. Rebounding corn futures could also raise costs for fattening cattle, potentially eating in to profit margins and reducing demand for cattle feedlots.

Most-active CME October feeders finished 0.825 cent lower at 143.300 cents per pound while August feeders expired down 0.l75 cent at 142.725 cents.

Lean hog futures were mostly higher, extending gains from the previous session after hitting roughly nine-month lows on Tuesday. Short covering continued to buoy prices despite weakening wholesale pork and pork belly prices.

Front-month October hog futures finished 0.050 cent higher at 61.400 cents per pound and December hogs up 0.825 cent to 58.025 cents.

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US & Canadian Cattle Inventory – 8/22/17 – Lancaster Farming

Washington, D. C.

Aug. 22, 2017

Report Supplied by USDA/NASS

Inventory Up 4%

All cattle and calves in the United States and Canada combined totaled 116 million head on July 1, 2017, up 4 percent from t he 111 million head on July 1, 2015. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 46.6 million head, were up 5 percent from 2015.

All cattle and calves in the United States as of July 1, 2017, totaled 103 million head, 4 percent above the 98.2 million head on July 1, 2015. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 41.9 million head, were up 5 percent from 2015.

All cattle and calves in Canada as of July 1, 2017, totaled 13.0 million head, up slightly from the 12.9 million head on July 1, 2016. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 4.74 million head, were up 1 percent from a year ago.

Released August 22, 2017, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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Cattle thieves – Enid News & Eagle

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Thumbs up for astute ag investigators cracking down on modern-day cattle rustlers.

Cattle rustling may remind you of a nostalgic plot from a Western motion picture, but the crime remains extremely lucrative in the 21st century.

“Where other stolen items are sold for pennies on the dollar, cattle are worth the same price whether sold by the owners or thieves,” said Jerry Flowers, chief of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry special agents, in Raney Rapp’s Farm Talk story published in the News & Eagle.

They’re the real deal. An elite team of nine — all of them a trained law enforcement officer and experienced cattleman — investigate about 2,000 head of cattle stolen annually.

That adds to a combined $3 to 4 million in ag equipment and cattle, and their recovery rate is a whopping 87 percent.

Flowers advises using “common sense” to protect livestock with tight fences, cattle counts and penning calves away from main roads.

Never buy online cattle sight-unseen, and be wary of buying lots of cattle with varying age discrepancies — those can be red flags for stolen stock.

More thumbs up to a craft show in Enid gaining traction at Oakwood Mall the last several months. 

Sweet Bling Events was started by Crystal Brown and Barbara Phillips in April.

The show plays host to a variety of small businesses.

The first event had around 16 vendors, and it’s growing.

Sweet Bling Events is based out of the old Buckles space in the mall, and also has expanded into the former Foot Locker store. The show is held two days every month. 

Brown said any vendors interested in joining the craft show can call her at (580) 747-8438. 

Last, but not least, thumbs up to the newest Enid Police Department K-9.

Fett and his handler, Officer Cody Smith, already have hit the streets of Enid.

Fett was purchased from Nightwinds International, of Arizona.

Fett passed and received his National Police Canine Association certification Aug. 9 and passed and received his Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training certification June 1.


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Cattle grazing plan for Idaho national monument approved – Twin Falls Times-News

BOISE — Cattle grazing will continue at a south-central Idaho national monument known for its ancient lava flows following a challenge by an environmental group, federal officials announced this week.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in a statement Wednesday said grazing on BLM-administered portions of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve not covered by lava flows will stay at about 99 percent of current levels.

“The decision demonstrates the Trump Administration’s effort to support traditional uses such as grazing on public lands while providing opportunities for recreation and promoting conservation,” the agency said in a written statement.

Western Watersheds Project challenged grazing in the monument contending it harmed imperiled sage grouse, leading to a 2012 federal court order requiring federal agencies to complete an environmental review analyzing reduced grazing or no grazing.

Federal officials in May announced the results of that review and on Wednesday issued a 21-page “record of decision,” a formal document spelling out land-use policies for the BLM portion of the monument.

The plan, the agency said, allows officials to manage sagebrush landscapes and habitat with a small adjustment to grazing levels without harming the local economy. The Bureau of Land Management administers about 275,000 acres of the 738,000 acres of federal lands in the monument.

Specifically, the plan alters two grazing boundaries and sets the maximum number of AUMs at 37,792. An AUM, or animal unit month, under federal rules is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. AUMs are used to calculate grazing fees ranchers pay to the federal government.

Western Watersheds Project protested the conclusions of the environmental review leading to the BLM’s record of decision. The group contends that cattle grazing isn’t compatible in the monument that contains 700-year-old juniper trees and some of the last undisturbed native vegetation in the Snake River Plain.

Greta Anderson, deputy director for Western Watersheds Project, said the BLM ignored scientific evidence involving sage grouse.

“Sage grouse habitat should be preserved as one of the unique monument objects,” she said, noting the group is still considering its legal options.

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Sage grouse are ground-dwelling, chicken-sized birds found in 11 Western states, where as few as 200,000 remain, down from a peak population of about 16 million. The males are known for their strutting courtship ritual on breeding grounds called leks, and they produce a bubble-type sound from a pair of inflated air sacks on their necks.

The monument was initially designated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1924 with about 54,000 acres. Several additions followed and, in 2000, President Bill Clinton expanded it by more than 600,000 acres.

In 2002, efforts by Idaho’s U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson led to Congress designating 410,000 acres of the monument a preserve and moving that land from the BLM to the National Park Service.

In recent years, local communities have pushed to have the initial 1924 monument portion designated a national park hoping to bring more tourism dollars. Earlier this year, the Idaho Senate passed a resolution urging Congress to do just that. But the influential Idaho Farm Bureau, concerned monument restrictions and national park status could harm farmers and ranchers, opposed the designation and it stalled in the Idaho House.

The monument was part of President Donald Trump’s April executive order calling for a review of 27 national monuments created since 1996. In July, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Craters of the Moon was no longer under review for possible modification.

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The case of the missing show cattle – Magnoliareporter

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Raising and showing cattle at livestock shows is a popular pursuit for many young people. So it is no surprise that owners pay close attention when buying and transporting their prized livestock.

One East Texas family was doing just that when they contacted Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Ranger Larry Hand two weeks ago.

They had purchased a registered Maine-Anjou show heifer that their daughter would raise. They paid to have it shipped from Wisconsin to their Garrison, Texas home, but became concerned when the man transporting the animal didn’t arrive as scheduled and failed to return their phone calls.

Special Ranger Hand immediately initiated an investigation. He quickly learned through his fellow Special Rangers that it was not an isolated incident. Two other individuals reported the same man had failed to deliver cattle in recent days. In Albany, Texas a second young lady was also waiting on her own show heifer, and outside of Houston two registered Black Hereford bulls were overdue. In total, more than $21,000 in cattle were missing along with the man transporting them.

Special Ranger Hand enlisted the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety, who used resources at their disposal to help locate the driver and cattle near Lindsay, OK.

It was learned that the driver had become extremely ill near a local delivery point. The rancher at the delivery point received his cattle and unloaded the remainder for safe keeping while he got medical assistance for the driver, who was eventually admitted to the Norman, OK, Regional Medical Center.

Hand then went about coordinating the delivery of the remaining cattle. All were safe and healthy, and were subsequently picked up from the Oklahoma rancher and received by their owners.

“I am very happy that we were able to resolve this case, ensure the safety of the driver and ensure safe delivery of the cattle to their rightful owners,” said Hand. “Our investigation enlisted the services of numerous law enforcement agencies across three states, and demonstrates the incredible team effort that is required to bring resolution to these kinds of cases.”

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Harper County Sheriff's Office calls on community's help to manage cattle calls – KWCH

A recent spike in the number of cattle on the loose in Harper County has the sheriff’s office asking the community for help.

The Harper County Sheriff’s Office estimates fuel costs to respond to the reports of cattle at-large at about $5,500 already this year as full-time deputies have had to work as part-time cowboys.

‘We’ve seen our cattle-call volume increase as of late. We usually average about 22 to 25 calls a month, and in the month of July, it’s up to 53,” says Harper County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kenny Hodson.

Hodson says seven out of 10 times, the owners of cattle on the loose can be reached. But when they can’t…

‘…If we can’t, we try and put them up ourselves,” he says.

Hodson says deputies don’t mind helping out, and it’s just part of the job.

In a recent post to its Facebook page, the Harper County Sheriff’s Office is reaching out to the community to help keep the cattle-call number down. It’s asking anyone with cattle in the area to reach out to the sheriff’s office with branding information and phone numbers to reach owners more quickly.

Rex Gates runs a local livestock auction with his son. He says the issue with cattle calls is a tricky one.

“It doesn’t matter how good a fence. A lot of barbed wire fences here, but also, a lot of electric fences. This time of year, it’s hard to keep them in.”

The reason: Gates explains cattle are looking for greener pastures after it’s been dry for most of the summer.

The Harper County Sheriff’s Office says it sees about five to 10 cattle-related wrecks per year. It’s a problem for everyone, including Gates and other cowboys in the area.

“In our community, we all work together. They may be your cattle, and (if) we get the call, we are going to put them in, and vice versa,” he says.

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New meat plant owners turn to importing cattle to keep slaughterhouse going – Alaska Dispatch News

Fear that the slaughterhouse would close had a chilling effect on farmers, according to Amy Seitz, executive director of the Alaska Farm Bureau. Alaska farmers have been reluctant to invest in larger herds of cattle and swine for fear the slaughterhouse would close, she said, and leave them with a product they cannot sell.

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Jim O'Haco Cattle Company finalist for Environmental Stewardship Award – Western Farm Press

The Jim O’Haco Cattle Company at Winslow, Ariz. is one of six regional honorees of the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) which recognizes outstanding stewardship and conservation efforts on beef operations.

The honorees were announced July 13 at the 2017 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting. The regional winners will compete for the national award to be presented at the Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Ariz. in February 2018.

Third generation ranchers

The Jim O’Haco Cattle Company, founded in 1898, is named for the distinctive landmark which dominates the skyline. Jim and Jeanne O’Haco are the third generation on the ranch which includes about 60,000 acres in eastern Arizona.

The ranch is one of the largest working cattle ranches in the state.

Originally, the ranch didn’t include beef cattle. Jim’s grandfather raised sheep on the ranch until Jim’s father took over and made the transition to cattle. Today, the ranch is a cow-calf ranch with mainly Angus and Black Baldy cattle.


Over the years, the O’Haco Cattle Company has worked hand-in-hand with state and federal agencies to improve the ranch for cattle grazing. This included the installation of the High Point Well which allowed water distribution to all corners of the operation.

Initially, the project was going to be a well with a storage tank yet 10 years later there were 40 miles of pipeline with water reaching every corner of the ranch. 

Due to the well project, “The weight on our cattle improved because they didn’t have to walk as far to water,” says Jeanne O’Haco. She adds, the well “has made a tremendous difference in the improvement of the land and the vegetation.” 


The water project is a win-win situation. Due to an agreement with the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, the water tanks run year-round to provide drinking water for wildlife across the ranch. 

“This ranch is just one of those jewels that has a lot of good habitat,” said Arizona Game and Fish’s Al Eiden. He says wildlife and ranching can co-exist well. 

Jim O’Haco has always wanted to have quality cattle and help the environment, both missions he’s accomplished but are ongoing.

“The job’s not done – we can always improve. We learn from our past and keep on improving,” O’Haco said.


ESAP was established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to recognize outstanding cattle land stewards in the cattle industry.

The program is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

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JBS Sells Canadian Cattle Feeding Business for $40 Million –

North America's largest cattle feeder has sold a 75,000 head Canadian feedlot and farmland for $40 million.
North America’s largest cattle feeder has sold a 75,000 head Canadian feedlot and farmland for $40 million.

Photo by Wyatt Bechtel

JBS has announced the sale of a feedlot and neighboring farmland near Brooks, Alberta, to MCF Holdings Ltd. (MCF) for approximately $40 million ($50 million CAD).

The Lakeside Feeders yard has a capacity of 75,000 head and JBS took ownership of the feedlot in 2013, forming JBS Food Canada.

JBS Food Canada will continue to own and operate their packing plant in Brooks, Alberta. As part of the agreement MCF will continue to supply cattle to the packer. The transaction is still pending a regulatory review and approval.

This is the first sale of the JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC since the announcement was made last month that the cattle feeding business would be divested by JBS. The sale is part a $1.8 billion divestment plan by JBS following a bribery scandal that has rocked the Brazilian owned business.

Five Rivers has 12 feedlots in the U.S. with locations in Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. Including the yard in Canada, JBS had a one-time capacity of one million head in North America, making it the largest cattle feeder in the region.

MCF is a subsidiary of Nilsson Bros. Inc., a livestock-based agricultural business in Alberta and owns diversified agriculture operations across the western Canadian provinces. Nilsson Bros. business includes auction markets, livestock insurance and finance, and feedlots. There are additional ranchers and livestock operations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

MCF plans to offer employment to the current employees of the farm and feedlot, pending approval. 

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