Additionally, high fertilizer and fuel prices make pasture and hay management more important, and high feed cost makes supplement management more critical. Spend a bit of time considering implications of price-related management decisions and aspects tend to line up nicely into a plan of action.

This is not the first time market signals have encouraged cattle producers to emphasize certain production practices over others. Historically, cattle cycles have signaled the need to focus on maximum cow-calf production during some combination of years and then switched to an emphasis on promoting the need to retain ownership or focus on stocker production.

“The advantage of the current market situation is that there is practically no tradeoff in market incentives,” Peel said. “Today’s market is basically rewarding any type of forage-based production of cattle so it makes little difference if a producer sells weaned calves, retains feeders or runs stockers in place of cows.”

In fact, the market signals that for much of the time in recent years limited feasible stocker systems to a narrow set of parameters – small beginning weights and limited total weight gain – have been replaced by expanded flexibility to choose a wider range of beginning weights, plus there is more opportunity to own cattle longer and take them to greater weights.

“I wouldn’t say there are no marketing challenges but placing an emphasis on productivity, efficiency and production costs should pay the greatest dividends in this unprecedented market environment,” Peel said. “Forage is worth more now. Producers who can grow and manage forage most efficiently and maximize the use of that forage through cattle will benefit the most in today’s marketplace.”