The Early Returns Are In (2010 OQBN Results)

A total of 7,537 Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) calves were sold at ten value-added sales this past fall held at seven different Oklahoma livestock markets.  The calves were sold in 851 lots from 177 producers for an average lot size of 9 head/lot.  Sale prices of non-OQBN calves that went through the same livestock market the same day were compared to OQBN calves.  The OQBN calves sold for $7.84/cwt more than “run of the mill” non-preconditioned calves that sold the same day.

The sale day premium, however is not the whole story.  The OQBN calves were weaned at least 45 days prior to sale.  During this 45 days most calves will gain about 2 pounds per day.  Therefore the OQBN calves weighed more than if they had been sold at a traditional weaning time.  In addition, the market for 400 – 600 pound calves has historically been at the yearly lowest at conventional weaning dates in October and early November.  By waiting the additional 45 days, the market improved dramatically this year adding a substantial dollar value to the OQBN calves as compared to the sale price that these same calves would have brought in October.  Producers need to compare the value of the feed, labor, and health costs of the vac-45 OQBN program to differences in total sale price.  In the fall of 2010, most producers sold the OQBN calves for enough more money to realize a worthwhile profit above the feed and health costs of the pre-conditioning program.

Other interesting findings from the OQBN data, indicated that “age and source” verification of all cattle was worth about $1.00/cwt.  The bonus due to “age and source” verification was stronger (about $2.00/cwt) in heavier, older yearling cattle.  Once again the value of larger lot size was apparent.  Lots of 10 calves averaged about $8.00/cwt more than similar calves sold 1 head at a time.  This advantage increases up to truck-load size lots of 40 – 60 head where sale price increases were noted as much as $12 – $13 dollars/cwt as compared to similar cattle sold as singles.  For more information about the Oklahoma Beef Quality Network go the website:

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

CattleFax for Week of February 28, 2011

The fed cattle market continued its higher trend last week finishing mostly at $111 to $112 live and $178 to $180 dressed. Trade was active from Kansas down through the Panhandle with prices $1 higher. Prices were $1 to $2 higher in Colorado and Nebraska on moderate trade. Boxed beef prices were steady to $2 higher as sale activity picked up for strips, short loins and ribs late in the week and end meat inventories tightened as sales reach the end of the month. Feeder cattle prices remained steady to $3 higher, while the feeder cattle index reported an all-time record price of $128.84. Calves were steady to $5 higher, and slaughter cows were steady to $2 lower. Corn prices started the week lower on concerns about Middle East stability, but ended even for the week. For recent market news and analysis, visit

American Heart Association Has Listed Three Beef Cuts As Part Of Its Food Certification Program

The American Heart Association Has Listed Three Beef Cuts As Part Of Its Food Certification Program, which places the Association’s heart-check mark on food packages to help healthy consumers identify foods that meet criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol. The listing of the three products results in part from the Association’s partnership with the Beef Checkoff Program.
The three beef cuts that met the Association’s criteria for extra lean and now are certified to display the heart-check mark include:

  • Boneless Top Sirloin Petite Roast (select grade)
  • Top Sirloin Filet (select grade)
  • Top Sirloin Kabob (select grade)

The American Heart Association heart-check mark is one of the most trusted icons on food packaging today – and it continues to resonate with health-conscious shoppers, even in a challenging economy. In fact, more than 83% of consumers have an aided awareness of the heart-check mark, and nearly 75% of primary grocery shoppers say the heart-check mark improves the likelihood that they’ll buy a product.
This certification allows retailers to display the heart-check mark on fresh case beef packages, promoting the health benefits of a serving of these particular beef cuts to their customers. This is good news, as many of the food industry’s top brands have certified products. The mark has been shown to influence sales by as much as 5%. In addition, The Beef Checkoff Trade Association Certification simplifies a retailer’s processing and related costs to participate in the American Heart Association’s heart-check mark program, such as waiving of certain fees and significant discounts to participate.
In addition to the three products certified by the American Heart Association, there are many popular beef cuts that meet government guidelines for lean for a single serving, including favorites such as sirloin, flank steak, tenderloin, T-bone steak and 95% lean ground beef. With about 30 lean beef cuts, it’s easy to build great tasting and healthy meals that include America’s favorite protein – beef – with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
“Lean beef helps Americans build a healthy diet and manage their waistline, because one three-ounce serving provides 10 essential nutrients for about 154 calories, helping you meet the new Dietary Guidelines,”
said Cheryl Hendricks, a registered dietitian with NCBA, which contracts to manage retail marketing efforts for the Checkoff. “With today’s focus on obesity, lean beef is a solution that satisfies our appetites and provides more nutrients for fewer calories than many other foods.”

It Was A Record Year For U.S. Beef Exports!

A new report by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) shows that 2010 was the best year ever for U.S. beef export value as a final total of $4.08 billion in shipments broke the previous high of $3.86 billion set in 2003. Last year’s export value total was also a nearly $1 billion improvement over 2009.

2010 was also a very good year for U.S. beef exports when measured in terms of volume. At 1.067 million metric tons (mt.), last year’s total volume bested the 2009 performance by 19%.
The rise in exports was a welcome turnaround from 2009 when U.S. beef exports were hampered by the historic international economic decline. But USMEF President and CEO Phil Seng said even in the troubled year of 2009, U.S. beef maintained or increased its market share in most key markets and was poised for a rebound.

“We knew the groundwork was in place for an excellent recovery in 2010,” said Seng. “But even the most optimistic forecasts underestimated the degree to which our beef exports would bounce back. Increasing beef export value by almost one-third, and nearly $1 billion, is a critical achievement for the U.S. beef industry and a substantial boost for U.S. producers.”
Export value equated to $153.09 per head of fed slaughter, which is up 22% from 2009 and 12% higher than in 2003. Nearly 12% of total beef production was exported, compared to less than 10% in 2009.

Mexico was the only major destination for U.S. beef to show a decline in 2010, and even that market was showing substantial improvement by the end of the year. For 2010, beef exports to Mexico were down 15% in volume (247,614 mt.) and 10% in value ($819.1 million). But December marked the third consecutive month in which exports to Mexico exceeded their 2009 value – jumping by more than 15% to $83.6 million. Mexico remains the top export market for U.S. beef.
Other 2010 market highlights for U.S. beef include:
• Exports to Canada increased 7% in volume (153,177 mt.) and 15% in value ($733.4 million – a new record) over 2009. Canada remains the second best market for U.S. beef in both volume and value.
• Japan is the third largest market for U.S. beef but is gaining ground quickly in terms of value. In 2010, exports to Japan increased by 36% in both volume (124,561 mt.) and value ($639.5 million).
• South Korea represents one of the great recovery stories of 2010, with exports more than doubling in volume (112,759 mt.) and climbing by 140% in value ($517.9 million).

For more information on U.S. beef exports, go to

FeedStuffs FoodLink: It’s time for a new generation to speak up

As the average age of producers keeps going up, much of the challenge in agriculture today is getting young people interested in pursuing agricultural careers. Even within agriculture, we are struggling to develop new opportunities.