Ad Spot

The reason behind the sticker shock of buying a ribeye lately

I’ve experienced two mild cases of sticker shock in the past six months.

First, the pickup truck cost less than what I had expected.

A couple of days ago I bought a ribeye steak. Dang. I think I pondered the steak price longer than the cost of the truck.

Like everyone else, I am aware COVID-19 temporarily shut down some beef processing plants about two months ago. And the market rule of supply and demand exists among feedlots and beef carcasses as much as anywhere. The prices of pork and chicken haven’t risen much, best I can tell.

The current virus dilemma aside, there are other reasons beef costs more than pork and chicken.

One reason is time. It takes about 20 months for a newborn calf to make it through the three stages of life as a market steer. The first seven months are spent with momma in the pasture. Then it’s off to a couple of grazing periods where the aim is to gain weight cheaply and get older before finishing up in a feedlot.

There, expenses go up as the animal eats mostly grain for about six months, give or take a couple. Ideally, a steer would be ready for slaughter at 18 months of age, weigh 1100 pounds and grade out at USDA Choice. But only half the cattle fed meet all of those ideals on schedule. So they keep eating, aging and costing.

Genetics and maturity are the two factors affecting the quality grade most. Obviously, the rations and the health program are of utmost importance, but those two can be standardized more so than the other two.

A second big cost determinant is feed conversion rate of feed to meat. On a live weight basis, it takes about seven pounds of feed for a steer to gain one pound in a feedlot. Compare that to a pig that only needs three pounds of feed for each pound gained. And a pig reaches slaughter size in less than six months of age.

Move from the beef to the pork to the chicken display at the store and feed conversion goes down with the retail price, or vice versa actually. Those thousands of birds in central and east Mississippi broiler houses put on a pound by eating two pounds of feed. Plus they are ready for plucking at 6-weeks-old. In addition to feed cost, the differences in annual turnover use of facilities among the animal species affect meat prices.

Strictly trivia: I miss pork bellies futures. During my college time and the years, I part-timed some cattle and hogs of my own, the Chicago Mercantile futures market was of interest to me.

It used to be that a trader could buy or sell live hogs and/or pork bellies contracts. Pork bellies were just that and frozen for later bacon. But times have changed. The only hog contracts now are for lean hogs, which are whole dressed hog carcasses. Pork bellies trading ceased in 2011. 

 

Terry Rector writes for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District. 

Local

Profile 2021: Mixing the new with the old and very old

Local

Profile 2021: The tomato sandwich is a Vicksburg classic

COVID-19

Vicksburg, Warren County COVID-19 numbers fall to levels not seen since May

Local

Victim in Friday’s fatal hit-and-run on U.S. 61 South identified

Downtown Vicksburg

City to add new pumpers to its fire truck fleet

Local

Looking back: Fire led to the addition of home’s accent feature

BREAKING NEWS

In custody: Suspect connected to Friday’s fatal hit-and-run captured

Lifestyles

Video: Vicksburg native Bill Ferris the ‘Eminent Southerner’

Local

Police identify suspect connected to Friday’s fatal hit-and-run

Local

Crews work to repair storm damage to reopen Fisher Ferry Road, better access to Sports Force

Crime

Nude man found in home, faces burglary charge

Crime

Vehicle reportedly involved in deadly hit-and-run has been found

Local

Vicksburg natives named to All-Mississippi Community College Academic Team

Local

Strong accusations: Monsour, Mayfield accuse each other of lying, lack of support

Local

Missy Gators present large donation to family battling cancer

Business

Vicksburg’s riverfront had plenty of company Thursday

Local

Pedestrian struck and killed by vehicle early Friday

Crime

Crime reports: Clinton man arrested after marijuana discovered in his vehicle

Local

Mississippi State Senate honors Utica Institute Museum

Crime

Vicksburg woman arrested, charged with child pornography

Local

Video: River City students celebrate principal completing doctorate

Local

Hinds Community College offering free summer classes

COVID-19

County COVID-19 activity falls to September levels as vaccinations climb

Crime

Police seek public’s help in finding six people wanted for weapons possession