Cattle and Ice

Growing up in Missouri, I’ve heard a lot of jokes about the temperamental weather in the state. One day is 70 degrees, the next is freezing and snowy.

Pat Guinan, University of Missouri Extension associate professor of climatology, explained the highs and lows of the state’s weather at the recent 49th annual Beef Cattlemen’s Conference in Monett, Missouri.

2017 was the seventh warmest year on record, and the spring season was the second warmest. August, on the other hand, was the seventh coolest August.

“A cool summer month is a really good thing in our state,” Guinan said.

Guinan showed data indicated growing seasons are starting earlier, and minimum temperatures have been high in the summers.

Dew point and humidity have led to an “unprecedented wet period,” he continued. Rain over the past 30 to 40 years has kept minimum temperatures up.

Since 1998, the state has seen more warm falls.

“There is a notable lengthening in the fall for the first fall freeze,” Guinan said, explaining the first fall freeze is generally occurring six days later.

Though the word “drought” brings back unpleasant memories of 2012, Guinan said 1952 to 1956 was the “Mother of all droughts” in Missouri.

“2012 was a reality check on how dry things can get in our state,” he said.

April 2017, however, was the wettest April on record.

“You can go from one extreme to another in a very short period of time,” the climatologist said.

2017, in fact, was the fourth wettest spring on record. However, Guinan said a dry spring is “foreboding” and does not look encouraging. If May — a transition month —  is hot and dry, he explained things do not look optimistic.

“If you think we’re seeing more extreme precipitation events… we are,” he said. Four of the top five precipitation events in the state have happened since 1993.

He reminded producers that 2012 was a year of full sunshine and low humidities and was the highest water loss year since 1980 and 1988. However, the year was a “short-lived drought.”

December 2017 was “highly unusual” as the state experienced high fire danger, he said.

Guinan encouraged producers to monitor their local weather conditions and to participate in the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS, Condition Monitoring Reports.

Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Update

Mike Deering, executive vice president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, provided an update on legislative issues at the conference.

Property taxes, he said, will not be going up for beef producers. Land grades 5-7 will see a 7 percent decrease and land grade 8 will see a 3 percent decrease.

Deering also mentioned the MCA is focused on speaking for producers on issues such as the Electronic Logging Device Mandate, “fake meat”, and protecting the innocent from animal abuse allegations.

Joplin Regional Stockyards Update

“This market’s been good,” said Bailey Moore of the Joplin Regional Stockyards. “It’s outperformed all of us.”

However, more cattle are being put on feed and “at some point, it’s going to catch up with us,” he said.

Moore advised producers look into value-added programs for their calves.

“People want to know something about them,” Moore said, adding calves in a value-added program is going to be the biggest thing producers can add to their operations as they move forward because buyers want health and weaning verification.

Moore also expressed optimism that the cull cow market will start to improve.

For those selling replacement heifers without background, Moore said those animals will be a struggle to sell. For producers with a small number of animals, he recommended commingling.

“Our commingle program has been working a lot better,” Moore said. “It really has increased the value.” 

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