Beginning in 2011, widespread drought in the southern plains, which was home to a significant percentage of the nation’s beef cows, led to lack of forage and water, costly feed and hay, and physical and financial stress on beef producers with substantial liquidation of cows. Producers were faced with difficult decisions about how to manage scarce resources in a rapidly changing market environment. In the short run, liquidation issues were the focus; in the longer run, producers needed assistance in evaluating cost-effective ways of rebuilding the herd.
In collaboration with Texas A&M University, new spreadsheet tools were developed and existing spreadsheet tools were updated and posted on http://www.beefextension.com under Cow/Calf and Calculators and on the OSU Ag Econ Extension Software Tools page at http://agecon.okstate.edu/extension/category.asp?category=software_tool to allow producers and educators to evaluate personal situations. The software set includes an early weaning decision aid, sell cows now or later, cow bid price estimate calculator, and a cow repurchase decision tool.
Area and state agricultural economics Extension staff from Oklahoma State University assisted livestock and forage production specialists at numerous meetings to quickly address critical needs at a critical time for the Oklahoma livestock industry. Discussion of the tools was an important component of these meetings first targeted to Extension educators and then expanded to Oklahoma agricultural lenders and producers. In addition, contributions were (and continue to be) made to a variety of newsletters that reach the general Oklahoma public and beyond (Master Cattleman December 2011).