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Big heat and your herd

Jeff Caldwell 07/22/2011 @ 1:07pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The heat wave gripping the Plains and Midwest this summer has taken a major toll on the nation's cattle herd. Pasture and other feedstocks are in seriously short supply, causing producers to market cattle earlier than they normally would.

"As long as the drought continues, there will continue to be herd liquidations. We all know hay prices are rather high right now," says Agriculture.com Cattle Talk member GoredHusker. "While I can't speak for all areas, here locally I just don't see herd expansion."

"Both broad sectors of the cattle industry -- the cow/calf producer and the feedlot -- are especially affected by the weather so far this year and in the months ahead," writes Agriculture.com livestock market analyst and contributor Andre Stephenson. "For the past year or so, drought in key southern calf areas -- as well as the lure nationwide of converting forage land (hay and pasture) to lucrative grains -- has encouraged U.S. cattle producers to shrink their breeding herds."

If you're facing herd losses because of the heat, you may be eligible for assistance from the federal government. “In some cases, producers have reported just one or two cattle dying, but reports of larger losses are starting to trickle in,” says Dal Grooms, communications director for the Iowa Cattlemen's Association. "Producers are working hard to protect their cattle by providing shade, extra water, and sprinkling systems, and that is where their efforts need to be right now. Once this heat has passed, [producers] need to concentrate on reporting any of their losses through the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) at their local FSA office."

   

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