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National survey focuses on stocker cattle producersNational survey focuses on stocker cattle producers

Stocker production happens in a variety of different situations, environments and regions but is one of the least understood sectors of the U.S. cattle industry.

April 4, 2017

2 Min Read
National survey focuses on stocker cattle producers
Oklahoma State University

The stocker sector is the most diverse and least understood part of the U.S. cattle industry, but some Oklahoma stocker producers will soon have the opportunity to increase awareness about the importance of their role in the beef marketplace.

“A number of Oklahoma stocker cattle producers will be receiving a survey in the next few weeks, which will provide previously unavailable information on the procurement and assembly of stocker cattle, production and management practices and variability and marketing practices of stocker producers,” Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist, said.

Oklahoma State’s Division of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service and National Agricultural Statistics Service, is conducting the first-of-its kind survey to gather information on stocker production in Oklahoma.

“With the cooperation and support of producers, this survey will provide detailed information to help researchers and industry analysts understand the vital economic role of the stocker industry and provide insight into such things as the disease threats associated with cattle movement into and out of stocker production,” Peel said.

As stocker cattle operators can readily attest, stocker production or backgrounding provides vital production and marketing system values to the beef industry. Stocker production happens in a wide variety of different situations and environments in many regions of the country.

“This illustrates the critical role of the stocker sector in providing flexibility to enhance beef industry competitiveness, including adjusting production in response to feed and forage market changes, enhancing the quality of feeder cattle by adding weight and age to stocker cattle and regulating the flow of cattle from cow/calf production to the feedlots,” Peel said.

In essence, the stocker cattle sector acts partly as an essential shock absorber for the beef industry. Unfortunately, to date, few data exist to help others fully understand and analyze the varied activities and actions that make up the stocker sector.

“An inventory snapshot once or maybe twice a year does not capture the flow of animals through stocker production systems,” Peel said. “Additionally, we have only very coarse estimates of the movement of cattle around the country before and after stocker production.”

Oklahoma is an important stocker production state. The Jan. 1 inventory confirmed a significant net inflow of stocker cattle into Oklahoma for winter grazing. Additionally, stocker production occurs year-round in Oklahoma, utilizing a wide variety of native and introduced pastures, although no data are available to measure the industry other than the January inventory report.

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