Too many cows for Pacific Northwest cattle producers

US - High corn prices and not enough processing plants have produced an oversupply of cows, causing feedlot headaches for Pacific Northwest cattle producers.
calendar icon 30 January 2007
clock icon 1 minute read
When animals are fed corn in feedlots for even a few extra days, it can cost ranchers thousands of dollars. Then beef processors dock producers if their animals are even a few pounds too fat.

Cattle can gain three to five pounds a day in a feedlot and only bring about $20 a head in total profit, so they have to be sold quickly when they are ready.

"The losses are just huge," said Rod Van de Graaf, co-owner of a large feedlot in Sunnyside. "We are just trying to hold on."

Van de Graaf said he feeds about 240 tons of corn a day, and he's got hundreds of cattle milling around that should already have been shipped to market.

Don Beus, owner of a Pasco-area feedlot and cow-calf operation, said he's been trying to watch his cattle so they don't gain too much weight as he waits to sell them.

The closure of a Tyson Foods Co. processing plant near Boise, Idaho, is forcing ranchers in Idaho and Oregon to ship their cows to a Pasco plant, ranchers said.

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