Wisconsin cattle farmers could see higher demand, prices in coming months due to drought


Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio

Sep 15, 2022


Brady Zuck is a beef producer from Ladysmith and president of the Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association. He said Wisconsin livestock farmers sympathize with the many producers across the western United States who are struggling with a historic drought this year.


He said a lack of rainfall affects not only the pasture lands that cattle graze on during the growing season, but also the hay crops farmers feed animals through the winter.


"Itís very expensive to purchase enough feed to maintain your herd size. So rather than trying to spend all that money to buy the feed, producers will cull some animals just to decrease their stocking density or how many cattle they have to feed every day," Zuck said.


Jeff Swenson, meat and livestock specialist for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said market analysts now expect the U.S. to hit a record high beef cow culling rate for the year. He said itís not just the older, less-profitable cows that farmers in Kansas and Oklahoma are culling.


"Ranchers aren't holding back young females to enter the herd. So those cattle are going into feedlots or are entering the food chain as well," he said.


He said that means theyíll have fewer calves born next year and the year after that, setting up a long road before producers are able to rebuild their herds.


Swenson said that sets up Wisconsin farmers, who havenít experienced the same drought stress and increased culling, to gain from higher cattle prices heading into 2023...