I hope you have had successful, productive sales this spring. Based on current sale reports, prices are above average in many locations throughout the country. This is happening during a time when CattleFax says numbers are at a record low due to herd liquidation influenced by two years of drought. Drought conditions have kept feed costs extremely high through most of the nation and thus far, limited the expansion of most producers.
This environment has increased the value of the Limousin cow that is feed efficient and moderate sized. This is critical to operations looking for a cow that is easy to maintain and feeder cattle that produce pounds efficiently. The maternal traits of Limousin females can be marketed and utilized by many commercial producers through this period of drought and high feed cost.
The USDA Cattle Inventory Report that was released in late January indicated the drought’s impact on the nation’s cowherd has not let up. During the previous two years, the beef cowherd has declined by 1.55 million head or an additional five percent. This two-year decline is the largest since the mid-80s. The inventory report indicated many producers are trying to expand where conditions allow, specifically the Northwest and parts of the Northern Plains. The contrary is occurring in the Southwest and Southern Plains, which is offsetting areas trying to increase given the large numbers of cows those two regions hold.
The drought continues to be a limiting factor to significant herd expansion even though the economic signals remain in place for producers to build their numbers. If more heifers are held back in 2013, and beef cow slaughter declines another half a million head, the cowherd could start 2014 very similar to this year’s level. This likely means beef production levels will decline for another couple of years. It will most likely be 2015 before there is a chance of increased production levels.
As beef production remains curtailed and feeder cattle markets remain strong over the next two years, this is the perfect time to market the advantages of utilizing Limousin genetics to commercial cow-calf operators. Given the advantages in muscling and feed efficiency Limousin cattle possess, economic signals remain in place to maintain a cow herd that is efficient. This, combined with the improved docility and enhanced quality grade, are valuable traits for seedstock producers to market to their customers. Revenue traits of the breed that include calving-ease, weaning weight, fertility, carcass weight and ribeye area (that directly impacts yield grades) all contribute to the bottom line of cattle producers, regardless of what sector of the beef industry they are involved in.
In spite of the recent challenges imposed by weather, this is a good time to be involved in the beef business. This is especially true for the cow-calf producer, with every other sector of the business primarily being a margin operator including stocker operators, feedyards, packing houses and retailers. Everybody else down the production chain needs your cattle to function or they contract or cease to exist. Exports and branded programs will continue to increase adding additional value to cattle. With small herd numbers pretty much guaranteed the next few years and continued high cattle prices, it is time to get aggressive in marketing Limousin genetics and their benefits to the rest of the beef industry.
President Mitchell has moved NALF’s focus toward marketing the advantages of the Limousin breed. New promotional materials have been printed at the NALF office for use within the states. Feel free to inquire about the usage of the materials for your state marketing and individual marketing campaigns.
The increased national advertising budget that is being utilized to get into different publications and video markets are all part of an effort to help tell the Limousin story. All this can be done, but nothing is more effective than the membership and the people that breed the cattle. The cattle business is a people business. Folks in your area that trust your judgment and know you personally will buy into your sales pitch and opinion better than any promotional material that is printed, published or mailed. Don’t be afraid to use the advantages your cattle have as you discuss genetics with your fellow producers that need to give Limousin a second look.