In a few weeks, the fall calf run will be underway. All signs point to another disappointing year for cow-calf producers. As compared to last year, feed grain prices are down significantly. It will cost less for feedlots to put on pounds of gain. Unfortunately, the value of fed (slaughter) cattle is also down significantly. The net result is calf prices very similar to last fall. Most 500 to 600 pound steer calves are currently selling for a little more than a dollar a pound. Those prices just don’t pay all the costs. The situation this year is aggravated by a poor hay crop in much of the prairies. With supplies short, good quality hay is selling for about $100 per imperial ton. Cow-calf producers will tell you that they can’t afford to buy hay at those prices. Most are thankful to have their own forage supply, so they won’t have feed purchases as a direct expense. Of course, if you’re going to honestly calculate the cost of production, forage costs should be penciled in at commercial values. After all, if you weren’t feeding that hay, you could sell it. There’s a definite lack of good news in the business. It’s now clear that Saskatchewan’s only major beef packer, XL Foods at Moose Jaw, won’t be reopening this fall as hoped. Yes, markets are always cyclical and eventually the sector should again be profitable, but one wonders how many producers will be left by the time that happens. I’m Kevin Hursh. For informaiton about input cost contact DynAgra at 1.800.941.4811

Kevin Hursh, PAg CAC