Weather blamed for drop in state meat production

WEST VIRGINIA - Warm weather likely is to blame for a double-digit decrease in West Virginia's commercial red meat production last month, a federal official said.
calendar icon 29 December 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
While national production was at record levels, the state's dropped 23 percent last month compared to the same time in 2005. Production was up 5 percent nationwide, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The only possible reason could have had to do with the warm weather," said Dale King, director of the federal agency's field office in Charleston.

"A lot of people wait until it's colder to take their animals to the slaughter."

King expects state production to increase in January and February when the weather should be colder.

Farmers have been able to keep their beef cattle in pastures longer before bringing them inside and feeding them costly supplemental grains in preparation for slaughter, King said.

"It's a function of the feed supply," King said. "When they come off pasture, farmers give them grain for two months, then they're ready to go."

As long as the weather stays warm, the cattle can graze on the grass, saving feed costs.

And there's plenty of food since a wet, late summer has left state farmers with lush pastures, King said.

Because the national supply of red meat -- which also includes veal, pork, lamb and mutton -- was up last month, the fact that the state's production was down shouldn't affect prices at the supermarket, King said.

Most of the meat West Virginia consumers buy comes from outside the state, he said.

Source: Charleston Daily Mail
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