Rebuilding the Herd: How El Niño could lend the livestock industry a helping hand

Incoming wet weather could lend a helping hand to cattle producers. An expert from the University of Missouri Extension explains how a cold, wet winter in the Midwest could help grazing, and herd building in 2024.

According to Dr. Derrell Peel with Oklahoma State University, while usually linked to extreme weather events and an obstacle to agriculture, El Niño could also lead to vital herd rebuilding in the U.S. livestock industry.

“If the meteorologists are right with the El Niño pattern, it looks like this is maybe the beginning of that — from the way I understand it, we are going to have kind of a wet winter, maybe colder than usual,” Peel said. “Wetter in the Southern Plains and maybe not so much in the Midwest. But all of that suggests that we probably set up the idea for substantially better forage conditions next year, certainly for the first half of next year. And if that happens, then I do think we will begin to see more indications of heifer retention and herd rebuilding as we get into 2024.”

We’ll know more about current cattle trends in the upcoming Cattle on Feed Report which comes out November 17, 2023.

For now though, back-to-back drought seasons are limiting forage supplies for livestock producers.

According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture‘s Market News Manager, their website, which helps producers find hay when needed, has seen heavy traffic from both buyers and sellers lately. The website lists sellers by region and forage type, as well as bale type, number and weight. Sellers from states that are not in an ongoing drought, giving producers the ability to redistribute necessary resources to others where supplies are tight.

However, the University of Missouri Extension warns buyers to be cautious when buying hay from new sources and recommends testing and weighing hay before buying if possible. The best way to see if you have good hay is to have it lab tested for nitrate levels. Buyers can also look for pests, leafiness, weeds, and seed heads for signs of an over mature crop.

To access the online resource, CLICK HERE. For producers outside of the Midwest region, similar resources can be found through 28 other state extension services.

Related Stories
Phragmites, an invasive plant, is taking over Utah’s Salt Lake wetlands, stealing critical water supplies and choking out native habitats.

LATEST STORIES BY THIS AUTHOR:

Cattle producers recently promoted U.S. beef on a trip to Japan and Korea with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
After years of drought, farmers across U.S. farm country are getting so much rainfall that it’s dampening their spring planting progress later into the season.
According to USDA experts, Brazil and Argentina’s large drop in corn production has more to do with the economics of corn markets than impacts from weather.
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, no part of Iowa is experiencing extreme levels of drought for the first time in nearly two years.
Agriculture Shows
From soil to harvest. Top Crop is an all-new series about four of the best farmers in the world—Dan Luepkes, of Oregan, Illinois; Cory Atley, of Cedarville, Ohio; Shelby Fite, of Jackson Center, Ohio; Russell Hedrick, of Hickory, North Carolina—reveals what it takes for them to make a profitable crop. It all starts with good soil, patience, and a strong planter setup.
Champions of Rural America is a half-hour dive into the legislative priorities for Rural America. Join us as we interview members of the Congressional Western Caucus to learn about efforts in Washington to preserve agriculture and tackles the most important topics in the ag industry on Champions of Rural America!
Farm Traveler is for people who want to connect with their food and those who grow it. Thanks to direct-to-consumer businesses, agritourism, and social media, it’s now easier than ever to learn how our food is made and support local farmers. Here on the Farm Traveler, we want to connect you with businesses offering direct-to-consumer products you can try at home, agritourism sites you can visit with your family, and exciting new technologies that are changing how your food is being grown.
Featuring members of Congress, federal and state officials, ag and food leaders, farmers, and roundtable panelists for debates and discussions.
Host Ben Bailey hops in the tractor cab, giving farmers 10 minutes to answer as many questions and grab as much cash as they can for their local FFA chapter.