Cattle farming struggles in western N.C.

US - Strong supply and increased production costs have slowed a recent boom in beef cattle prices, hitting hundreds of smaller cattle farmers in western North Carolina especially hard.
calendar icon 2 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
"We've seen a real crunch over the last 100 days in western North Carolina - they're taking off somewhere between $100 to $125 a head for every 500-pound feeder calf," said John Queen, a Haywood County cattleman who was recently elected as the president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

An increase in corn prices and other production costs has prompted feed lots that buy calves from mountain operations to cut their costs by offering less per head.

Local beef cattle producers from 2000 through the first three quarters of 2006 benefited from a strong national market driven mostly by huge demand and popular protein-oriented diets. The association said demand increased 25 percent over the past six years, with per capita beef consumption topping 66 pounds a year in 2005.

Gary Hutchins of Leicester cashed in, getting $1.51 a pound for one calf in 2005 and $1.35 for another.

"That's the most I've ever known," said Hutchins, who has about 20 black Angus cows. "Last year, my prices ranged from 70 cents a pound to a dollar, about 85 cents average."

The profit margin wasn't very big to begin with, averaging about $20 a head or less for the past 20 to 25 years, Queen said.

"From 2000 to 2005, it jumped to the neighborhood of $150 a head, and we certainly enjoyed a great profitability within that time frame," he said. "If you take out $100 to $125 a head, then we're back to square one."

Source: Winston-Salem Journal
© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.