Cattle Producers Reduce Herd Size

Survey at Missouri Beef Tour shows drought impact on industry.

Published on: Sep 12, 2012

Cattle producers from four states say they will have fewer cows next year as a result of the 2012 drought.

The Missouri Beef Tour drew a crowd of nearly 300 cattle producers from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to Lawrence County.

Tour hosts were Shiloh Land and Cattle Co., Jackie Moore Ranch, Dustin and Scynthia Schnake and Clif and Alice Harrington. In addition, attendees viewed beef and forage research projects at the University of Missouri's Southwest Research Center just south of Mt. Vernon.

"During the tour guests were asked to complete a survey regarding their plans to cope with the drought," said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with MU Extension. "We learned a lot from the 85 surveys that were filled out and returned."

SURVEYING DAMAGE: Producers at the Missouri Beef Tour were polled to see the impact the 2012 drought had on their operations.
SURVEYING DAMAGE: Producers at the Missouri Beef Tour were polled to see the impact the 2012 drought had on their operations.

The first question asked producers how far into the winter their current forage supply take them. The majority (34.1%) felt they could make it until March 1. April 1 received a 25.6% vote and 17.1% felt they could only make it until January 1. Exactly 17% said they would run out of forage by December 1.

The second question asked "will you have more, less or the same number of beef cows next April as you have now?" Forty-nine percent indicated they would have fewer cows. Their average percent reduction in cows was 17.4%. The range went from 5% to 50% less. Only 5 replies (6.1%) felt they would increase their cow numbers this winter. Thirty-eight farmers said they would remain the same in beef cow inventory in the next 8 months.

The last question asked, "What management practice will you employ to extend your forage supply?" There were a wide variety of practices suggested. The two top vote-getters were to save forage by various practices and plant emergency pasture species. Saving forage edged out the planting plans by a 25% to 24.4% vote.

The forage saving ideas included: strip grazing, rotating pastures, limit feeding of hay, buying improved hay rings and restricting time to graze pastures. Planting emergency grazing crops saw wheat, ryegrass, cereal rye and turnips as crops being planted soon.

Selling open cows and those that are less productive came in as the third most popular practice with 14% close behind at 11.6% was to wean and sell calves early. Just over 9% offered supplement feeding of by-products like dried distillers grains or commercial products.

Down the line, and mentioned only by 1 to 3 farmers included: feed silage, corn stalks, ammoniate low quality hay, cut trees, fertilize fescue pastures and buy or rent more pasture.

Source: University of Missouri Extension