Grazing Conditions Difficult for Louisiana Cattle

Grazing Conditions Difficult for Louisiana Cattle

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May 16, 2016

Story provided by LSU AgCenter

Louisiana’s beef industry relies on the production of forage grasses to feed and maintain cattle. This spring, beef producers have seen more than their share of rainy and overcast days, leaving many pastures in poor condition.

"Our whole industry is built on forage crops," says Wink Allison, LSU AgCenter Forage Specialist. "We don’t do a lot of feeding supplements, grains and those type of things. We’re dependent upon that forage."

Because of the poor forage conditions, some producers are having to supplement feed for their cattle. This additional production cost is compounded by a beef cattle market that has seen a dramatic decrease in price for the past 18-months with no long-term relief in sight.

"Be prepared for the next couple of years to sell calves for $750 a head," says Stan Bevers a Beef Economist with Texas A & M AgriLife Extension.  "A year ago, a year and half ago, we were selling them for $1,400 a head."

Bevers blames much of the decrease in prices on the record amount of beef in cold storage and high amounts of both poultry and pork. To help producers survive under the current economic conditions, one expert says they should gather information about their herds.

"When we gather information," says Ryon Walker, a LSU AgCenter Beef Researcher, "we can make a little bit better precise management decisions in how we manage them to cut our costs."

According to Walker, obtaining the weights of your cows and calves is important because it can be used to determine weaning weights, and weight influences the cow’s fertility.

"If we’ve got big cows, they’re eating more," Walker adds. "If they’re not producing a bigger calf, then they’re costing you money."

Walker advised producers to invest in scales to help make more informed management decisions. 

According to the latest Louisiana Ag Summary, there were nearly 7,400 beef cattle producers in the state with a total production value of $895 million.

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