The drought and the sell- off it produced to reduce cattle numbers in Texas along with a strong demand for beef has raised the price of beef to consumers, but it’s also had an effect in other sectors of the beef industry.
Seed stock producers raise pure bred cattle that are either used as replacement heifers or bulls in other seed stock operations, or as herd bulls in commercial beef enterprises.
The loss in cattle numbers has reduced the need in drought stricken areas for replacement females and bulls, as well as presenting unique challenges to seed stock ranchers.
“Being a seed stock operator, our cattle have to be presented at different times of the year, and of course, require more feed than you would normally have in a commercial operation.”
JC Thompson is a Beefmaster seed stock producer near Roans Prairie.
“The long and the short of it is when you’re having to feed hay year-round, and having to feed about 30 tons of feed a month, it doesn’t make any difference how good calf prices are at the market, that’s not where I sell, but it can’t be good enough to cover the cost of having to feed and hay 12 months out of the year.”
No fresh grass growing meant no minerals getting to the cattle through the grass supply.
“So our supplementation program with minerals was to have minerals available to the cows year round. If the mama cows don’t have the minerals that they need and nutrition that they have to have, then their reproductive systems shut down to some extent.”
Recent rains have helped encourage some winter pasture growth.
“We’re going to have to continue to get these rains every two to three weeks to help the growth of that grass, but that’s all we’ve got to live with, with the limited stock of hay, until our spring and summer pastures come in.”
Thompson says he’s had to go out of state to market his bulls and replacement heifers.
“You’ve got to go where the market is, and Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, those areas have continued to get rain, where we did not, and that’s where we’re having to market more of our cattle than we normally do.”
And there’s a little bit of optimism is most agricultural producers you’ll meet.
“We’ll watch, we’ll formulate a plan, we’ll have to adjust it, as the rains come or doesn’t come, to know exactly how we’re going to come out in 2012.”
I’m Karey Kailey, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.