Increasing live and feeder cattle prices, lower feed costst and green pastures across the Great Plains have cattle producers interested in herd rebuilding following consecutive years of drought.
The previous two years of dry weather in most cattle-producing states dropped cattle herds to their lowest levels in 60 years. As corn prices fall below five dollars and grazing pastures remain green through August, cattle producers are ready to talk about adding more cattle to their operations.
The return of rain this summer has done more than keep pastures green, ponds are filling up, too. According to the Associated Press, the weather change has shifted producers’ outlook, but many are still waiting to make the commitment. One Kansas cattleman was forced to decreased his herd by 40 percent because of the drought and admitted it will take three years or more to come back from that decline.
“We have had enough rain to at least change our attitude,” said Kansas cattleman Ken Grecian said. “We are not out of the woods by any means, but we are green again.”
Grecian told the Associated Press restoring resources is as important to managing his operation as adding more animals.
Data from the USDA show inventories may still be falling in 2013. The August Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook shows lower inventories are expected in the January 1, 2014 cow inventories. A survey of analysts by LMIC shows some variation with expectations for replacement heifers ranging from a slight decline to an increase.
Further north, some Minnesota cattlemen have gone without precipitation, forcing them to take a different approach to herd management. While crop producers in some parts of the state are anticipating their second-largest corn crop in state history, cattle producers in central and eastern Minnesota are thinning herds to reduce costs.
The Associated Press reports pastures, hay fields and crop fields are dry without significant rainfall for several weeks.