It’s a wonderful life
December 20, 2016
That last cold snap was unbelievable. The actual temperatures were about 30 below and the wind chill dropped the temps to 50 below. Then you add the five inches of snow to the mix an it became almost unbearable. It was interesting that our city friends recommended no travel. We weren't going anywhere because we had to feed and water our animals. Most people don't understand the responsibility we all share for the care and well-being of our livestock.
This year, 2016, wasn't the best for cattle producers. For some reason the cow prices are ridiculously low. This has also affected the bred prices. It appears all bred females are about $750 cheaper per head. It may be a good time to add a few bred heifers at $1,500 compared to the $3,000 several years ago. Many individuals in our area have been adding cows to their herds. Hay is being 'no saled' at the hay auction for $60 per ton. Many have roughage and feed and are looking for something to consume the feed. I am sure the cows will utilize the feed and can be sold later as breds, cow calf pairs or even moved to grass.
The cold weather and the snow cover have forced many from residue grazing to a feeding scenario. The frozen ground allows ground feeding of hay, silage, and even cake and grain with every little waste. Carefully maintain your cows BCS (body condition scores) at 5 – 5.5 and your heifers at 6. If you haven't already done so, now would be a great time to preg check and prepare your cows for calving. Handling will also offer you the chance to sort you younger cows and the thin cows from the rest of the herd. This will allow you to provide them with better nutrition.
Most of us are very frustrated with markets on our livestock. A semi load of 550 pound steers is worth about $70,000 less than last year. We knew the record highs could not last, but we certainly did not expect this rapid drop. All of the newspaper columns are passing blame on packers, imports, exports and trade groups. Although our views may differ, we must all work together to promote our product. When you visit friends over the holiday promote your product, BEEF. We know people prefer beef because they are willing to pay $8 – $9 per pound for beef loin rather than $2.50 per pound for pork loin, and I don't know how little they are willing to pay for chicken loin. Promote and speak positively about your product and your lifestyle. It will assure a profitable future.
Although 2016 wasn't the best year for agriculture, we still have many things for which we can be thankful. We are doing what we love in the rural setting we prefer with people and animals we love. What more could we ask for in 2017?
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Prosperous and Happy New Year!