Cold, Wet Weather Hurts Mid-Missouri Cattle
COLUMBIA - Local cattle ranchers said Thursday they are concerned about the cold and wet fields. Right now is the calving season, and they said the water and mud could hurt their young cows.
Kelly Smith, director of marketing and commodities for the Missouri Farm Bureau, said, "The cold, wet weather that we're having today is a challenge for our beef industry right now."
Chuck Miller, a local cattle rancher said he has to check on the calves throughout the night to keep them warm.
"We look at a few weeks ago when it was zero, and no humidity, and perhaps, maybe even some snow," Miller said. "That weather is much easier on animals just because it's dry. You can eventually get them warmed up to some extent, but this bone-chilling cold, wet weather is tough."
The mud could also hurt the growth of grass on cattle farms, a big source of food for the cows.
"Here's the problem that people perhaps don't for see," he said. "That is the cost in a few weeks when the grass begins to green up and it comes pretty slow because it was trampled into the ground."
According to Miller, the number of cattle is at a 50 year low, making it even more important to save every calf possible.
Smith said, "Our cow numbers are down, so we need to save every baby calf we can or meat will be higher in the grocery store."
Higher prices for the ranchers could lead to higher beef prices for consumers. Miller said each calf is valued at about $800 to $1,000 and cattle ranchers are spending more to save the cows.
Officials said beef prices are on the rise. Officials said the beef prices are already up by about 7% from last year, and the could go up as much as 20% next year. The cows born this year could affect the market in about 2 years.
The conditions are also making it more difficult for the ranchers themselves.
"Trying to walk across a field where the mud comes up to your knee or nearly over your boots, try to do that for a quarter mile or half a mile, try to drive out there, and occasionally you'll find that you're not gonna make it back," Miller said.
He also said last year may have been even worse than this year. Miller said many years of thought calving seasons could also contribute to the rising prices. Other factors include high fuel and feed prices.
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