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PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Thousands of livestock scientists got a glimpse of the future at
the Joint Annual Meeting of the American Society of Animal Science, the American Dairy
Science Association and the Canadian Society of Animal Science in Kansas City.
The conference centered on meeting the expected global demands of 2050, said David
Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the University of
Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
The world’s population is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050; about 60 percent more
food will be needed. Meat consumption is expected to rise as the world’s population
becomes wealthier. China is expected to lead the change in the demand for meat, Fernandez
With U.S. cattle herds at their lowest since the 1950s, the beef supply is low while
demand remains strong. This is pushing cattle prices to record highs. Ag economists
Glynn Tonsor of Kansas State University and Lee Schultz of Iowa State University predicted
strong prices through the next three years. Both predicted that the U.S. cow herd
will not recover to its record high 1970s era in the foreseeable future, if ever.
“This means prices should stay strong unless external factors such as changes in the
Farm Bill, country of origin labeling issues, government shutdowns or feed prices
change significantly,” Fernandez said.
Sheep and goat producers can take advantage of this situation, Fernandez said. With
meat production down, a demand for more meat and beef prices up, lamb and goat prices
are more competitive.
Sheep and goat producers need to better manage parasites and parasite resistance to
dewormers, Fernandez said. Rotational grazing with short grazing periods helps reduce
parasite numbers. Productivity and profits can improve with better pasture management.
Sheep and goats improve pastures by reducing weeds and brush. Cattle producers can
add one or two sheep or goats per cow without affecting production of either species,
control weeds and brush without spraying and produce more meat per acre, according
to Steve Hart of Langston University.
Several presenters pointed out the potential improvement in production efficiency
by altering the production cycle to more closely follow the changes in forage quality.
For livestock producers with warm season grass pastures, calving, lambing and kidding
would best be done in May or June, but by adding a cool season annual such as ryegrass,
the pasture could provide improved nutrition in March or April.
Stockpiling warm season grasses can extend the fall grazing season as can annual cool
season grasses. Producers with largely cool season pastures, mainly fescue in Arkansas,
can add warm season annuals for better summer grazing and stockpile fescue for early
Adding legumes, such as clovers and vetch, can reduce the need to add nitrogen to
pastures and increase protein content of the forage.
“Perhaps one of the most unusual ideas was a ‘cowless’ cow herd,” Fernandez said.
Producers can breed heifers using artificial insemination and sexed semen to get nearly
all female offspring. Heifers can be sold as replacement heifers, bred heifers or
kept as dams for the next generation. By weaning the calves early and feeding the
dams for about 60 days, the dams can be sold as 30-month-old slaughter cows that will
still grade choice.
“There is no need to try to breed difficult two-year-old second calf cows because
they have all gone to slaughter,” Fernandez said. By choosing an easy-calving bull,
birthing difficulty can be kept low. While this idea may not be for everyone, it bears
investigating if you are one of the better heifer developers, Fernandez said.
With all the changes in the meat industry and more on the way, the Joint Annual Meeting
is a great way to stay up to date, Fernandez said. For more information, contact Dr.
Fernandez at (870) 575-7214 or Fernandezd@uapb.edu.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Program offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Carol Sanders, writer/editorUAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences(870) firstname.lastname@example.org