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This year's drought led to a widespread liquidation in the U.S. beef herd as the cost of feed skyrocketed and the quantity of available feed fell through the floor.
Though economists say the market's likely to bounce back by the middle of next year, the current marketplace makes it a good time to add per-head weight before marketing beef cattle, says Lee Schulz, Iowa State University Extension livestock economist.
"There are historically high values of gain, and this is expected to continue," he says. "In fact, over the last few weeks, the value of adding additional weight to calves has been increasing as there continues to be a desire for feedlots to put less weight on using corn."
There's one caveat, though. Adding more weight per head will ultimately cause the profitability to do so to slide, so producers need to think ahead and determine whether such a clip could eventually take the profitability out of such a shift in herd management.
"These projections do not take into consideration costs of adding additional weight, and producers will need to compare that to the values of gain," Schulz says. "One factor potentially favoring adding weight to calves this fall is the higher-than-normal amount of drought-damaged corn that was chopped for silage and may be available to feed calves."