December Cattle Feeding Projections

Posted: December 16, 2020 | Written By: Heidi Doering-Resch, M.S. - Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist

December 2020 Cattle Feeding Projections

December Form-A-Feed projections provide a little bit of positive insight to the front end volatile month.

Live cattle contracts are gaining some positive momentum and may continue through the end of the week with the Christmas season coming up fast. It’s nice to see more black than red on the projections. Some of this is in thanks to lower cattle placements this past month which allows some positive thinking towards summer inventory and continued exports which may lead the futures price higher. Cattle HCW have finally started to drop, meaning a lot of the heavy cattle have finally made their way through the chain. Quality grade is still achieving great levels, a positive note for both cattle feeders and consumers as the choice/select spread will begin to tighten once again.

Ration costs are certainly a point of large scale conversation with distillers prices reaching all-time highs in addition to corn prices escalating. Prices for modified distillers grains (50% DM) at $105/ton or better start to push folks, rightfully so, into once again adding supplemental protein sources into the ration. We can be thankful that we did have a good year to put up alfalfa and haylage sources as these help offset the protein needs in the ration. Urea based supplements have also been added back into the formula. This months projections were ran with urea based supplements, reducing the amount of mdg in the ration, even with $4.00/bu corn COG in most sections of the projections dropped with this scenario.

As we change rations to include more starch (from corn) while reducing our energy and protein dependency on distillers, it’s important to remember that bunk management becomes more critical. Distillers have always had a forgiveness factor providing energy from fat and low starch levels. With corn having a much higher starch content (68% in whole corn vs 4% in distillers), this drops the ruminal pH much faster than fat calories impact on ruminal digestion. Balancing the ration to contain the right amount of protein, energy (corn or fat) and fiber for a healthy rumen is certainly something to consider as you look at formulating least cost rations.

It is my hope that as the year 2020 turns into a new chapter that many of you can be reminded of the positives that the year has brought. Working through a pandemic and providing essential nutrients to the world during uncertain times is a feat that is not for the faint of heart. Farmers and ranchers deal with more risk both financially and emotionally than most any job out there. May the Christmas season remind you of a new birth, the reason for the season, a new breath of life and renew your faith.

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15.