Cow feeding pattern re-emerging in feedlots, as drought grip tightens

THERE’S a small, however rising pattern taking place in industrial feedlots feeding mild cows so as to add weight and situation earlier than slaughter.

The pattern was final seen in the course of the 2019-20 drought, and was additionally generally seen in the course of the earlier drought cycle again within the early 2010s.

Northern-bred composite cows on shortfed applications in a Darling Downs feedlot

Full-mouth cows will not be eligible for a Grainfed (GF) cipher, however the practise of short-feeding mild cows is solely designed so as to add weight and situation.

That want is being added-to by the footprint of extra excessive drought circumstances that’s rising throughout japanese Australia by the week.

A big multi-site east coast beef processor informed Beef Central throughout Tuesday’s weekly kill report {that a} small, however rising proportion of his firm’s cow kill was now made up of fed cows.

“We’re beginning to kill just a few extra cows out of feedlots,” he stated. “It’s not but in large licks, like we noticed within the earlier drought, however its rising.

“It could be 20-25pc of cows now being killed have had some feed – both at a registered feedlot, or through self-feeders within the paddock – particularly western cows. It’s not for everyone, however some folks will do it.”

Sometimes, beef processor value grid provides begin to fall away dramatically, as soon as cows get under about 240-260kg dressed weight – incentivising suppliers to maintain weights up.

And with heavier, better-conditioned cows, just a few candy cuts might be harvested on the market as complete muscle meat, relatively than being merely consigned to the grinder.

A big industrial feedlot operator confirmed that his yard was already feeding some cows for weightgain and situation.

“There’s just a few processors who’re shopping for mild cows and placing them onto feed for 50-70 days, guaranteeing they flip from boner-types (all manufacturing meat), into carcases the place loin cuts are price harvesting,” he stated.

“In different circumstances, the cows are being positioned on feed by the breeder, or a purchaser, to promote later as heavier, higher completed animals.”

“To what extent it’s taking place at this stage is tough to inform, however there are definitely cows on the books now in some feedlots.”

Gentle-conditioned, higher framed cows going onto feed tended to be ‘very large eaters’, he stated, consuming 15-20kg of finisher ration a day. And weightgain in liveweight might be massive – round 2kg/day on the suitable cattle.

“However the dangers, from an animal welfare viewpoint, are one thing that lotfeeders must maintain a detailed eye on. Among the cows coming in will calve, being pregnant when offered merely as ‘mild cows.’


So is the enterprise worthwhile, for the stakeholder placing them onto feed?

“It largely relies upon how low-cost the boner cows are,” the lotfeeder contact stated.

“On the similar time, ration costs are lifting considerably in the meanwhile – anyplace from $5/kg to $5.30/kg for finisher ration. Besides, the train appears enticing, relying on the cow’s preliminary worth.”

Over a 60-day feeding interval, a feeder cow may eat $480 price of ration, and placed on 100-120kg of liveweight. A boner cow coming into the yard at 400kg liveweight, may exit after 60 days, producing a carcase round 270-280kg.

Typical Queensland cow grids provide a high promote for 300kg+ (this week 415c/kg) and 5c off for every 20kg liveweight under that. Under 240-260kg, grids fall rather more sharply, as a result of processing prices don’t change, no matter weight.

Within the instance above, a 270kg cow freshened-up within the feedlot would this week make 405c/kg when offered direct.

“In impact, the method turns a cow that has little or no worth to a processor, into one thing which has good worth, with good meat, and loins that may be offered as complete muscle into the finances beef commerce,” the lotfeeder stated.

“For that reason, if this drought cycle continues, it’s seemingly we’ll see extra of it,” he stated. “And there’s no scarcity of those low-cost cows available in the market at current.”

Value plunge

As a value information, mediumweight rating 2 cows at Roma sale on Tuesday averaged 158c/kg liveweight, and offered to solely 185c. Dubbo sale final Thursday noticed cows to restockers make 150-185c/kg, and rating 2 cows common 142c/kg.

The NLRS processor cow index in the present day sits at 206c/kg, however that indicator consists of each extra enticing (to processors) heavy cows +520kg, and light-weight cows 400-520kg.

The sunshine cow element of the index over the previous seven days has averaged 172c/kg. Some particular person saleyards contributing knowledge to the cow index have averaged as little as 151c/kg over the previous seven days.

One Queensland processor estimated some cows he had purchased within the saleyards this week represented carcase weight worth within the chiller of solely 265c/kg.

As a comparability, this time final 12 months NLRS eligible cows offered by means of the saleyards channel averaged 373c/kg liveweight, or $2155 a head.

“However processors I feel, can be very involved about availability of producing cows (and doubtlessly value) as soon as this drought breaks,” one lotfeeder contact stated.

“Worldwide demand will probably be excessive, however availability of cows may once more turn into very tight, as soon as it rains.”

“Give latest modest worldwide grinding beef value enhancements, all of the indications are that slaughter cows are once more within the black for processors, and US provide goes to be very tight, for a while.”

A feedlot nutritionist spoke to for this report informed Beef Central that cows seen in some NFAS feedlots at current had been being fed for one in all two functions.

Some had been being production-fed for higher slaughter outcomes, however equally, different breeders had been being fed solely a upkeep ration, preserving them for future breeding functions.

Quarterly surveys

Beef Central requested the Australian Lot Feeders Affiliation how cows being fed in NFAS-accredited feedlots for added weight and situation – however not for a Grainfed cipher – had been handled in quarterly feedlot surveys.

We had been informed that the survey makes no distinction in market classes, however merely represents a complete numbers of cattle on feed. The inclusion of production-fed cows is captured within the very excessive June quarter cattle-on-feed determine of 1.256 million head – the second highest on file.