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Cattle Prices and Corn

Every cattle producer is probably getting a little antsy with the rising price of corn futures and the lingering drought throughout much of the country. The already substantial loss of crops and up-tick in fuel prices, has many producers wondering if downsizing is the best option. The national cattle herd numbers are already lower than we have seen in several decades, meaning beef prices will rise. I took a few minutes this morning to look at local stock yard prices, which have decreased from their highs of a month ago. Some prices have fallen 20 cents or more from what we were anticipating a few months back.photo of cornfield showing effects of drought

Now you might be wondering how this all fits together for a small producer in Northwest Florida? Here it is: grain feed prices will be high this winter, hay prices will probably hold to what they were or a little higher than last year, and alternative management strategies will be key. I can’t tell you for certain whether to hold your herd numbers or sell, but I can recommend maximizing your ability to provide low costs feed stuffs for your herd. Grazing management will be key. Planting winter grazing around October 15th will allow the max amount of growth before we have any frost conditions. Our local rain lately has increased the likely hood of winter forage success. We are heading into fall with a higher soil moisture content than we have had in several years. Success will also include picking forage varieties or  small grains that meet your operation’s nutrition needs. Our office can work to find a mix that works and we encourage you to contact us for recommendations from our favorite forage breeder, Dr. Ann Blount in Marianna.

My last bit of advice is explore alternatives to traditional feed sources. With the rise in grain prices coming, looking to operations across the south that have utilized alternative feeds will be key to continuing to grow our operations. I recently visited a purebred Angus operation in South Carolina that was working with a company to feed cull produce from large grocers. This is an expensive alternative to start off, but the owners believe will pay off over the long term. University researchers have been looking at a variety of options for Florida producers, including byproducts from the fast growing list of local alternative enterprises.

Grass is going to be our cheapest feed source, so following planting dates, nutrient recommendations, and selecting good varieties is the key to our local success. We have several programs coming up for producers on weeds and grazing management. Check the calendar for details.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/blog/2012/08/01/cattle-prices-and-corn/