With this year’s feed shortage, some beef producers are bringing their cattle to market sooner than usual instead of buying extra feed.
Local producer Heinz Reimer says personally, they are 30 to 40 percent short on feed this year. He notes because hay was such poor quality, farmers are forced to find alternatives to get them through the winter. He says some have been lucky enough to get corn silage at a decent price but for most, that is not the case. He adds they will likely be feeding some straw to their herd this winter which he indicates is not ideal.
"The protein in straw is quite a bit lower than any hay but it is a feed source," says Reimer, "we’ll probably be top dressing the straw with some liquid molasses which will make the straw more palatable and we'll add a little bit of protein to it but we’ll probably only be feeding 20 percent of our ration that will be straw."
Reimer adds they will watch their cattle closely and if they noticeably start losing energy and need some more grain in their diet, they will pay the price and put it in.
Reimer says with the price of feed so high, some farmers are just bringing their cattle to market earlier than usual as opposed to buying extra feed. "That’s part of the issue with a lot of producers that will sell their cattle off because they just can’t afford to pay," notes Reimer who says right now, they are paying double for extra feed, "It just doesn’t make sense to pay this kind of money for all your feed." He indicates it's manageable for one year but he says if you have to go through it a second year, there is potential for many producers to leave the industry.
"I’ve talked to guys at the sales barn, everybody’s saying we’re probably four weeks ahead of schedule. Cattle coming into the barn are a little bit lighter because people are short of feed and instead of buying feed, they’re just moving them on."
With that in mind, Reimer says he is surprised with how fair the prices are despite the cows not being as heavy as in previous years.
In the end, Reimer is staying positive for next year "I’ve always been optimistic, I’m not pessimistic so I’m hoping next year is going to be better."