Weekly livestock news: January 2, 2023

Winter storm stresses farmers, livestock and supplies

Farmers told the Bowling Green Daily News how the recent winter storm affected their operations. “It’s a battle for farmers,” said cattle producer Glenn Byrd. “When the temperatures get down…around single digits or maybe minus zero, it’s a treacherous thing for farmers and trying to keep livestock fed and watered.” He noted that the summer drought has had implications for producers’ preparedness for events like this: Livestock required more fuel than usual in the freezing weather, meaning they consumed more hay. While Byrd had sufficient hay supply, that wasn’t the case for everyone.

How can farmers manage high feed costs in harsh winter weather?

With forecasts for increasing blizzard conditions throughout the winter, farmers may be challenged by rising hay needs and the associated costs. To help producers maintain efficiency, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Gene Schmitz offered advice featured in the Osage County News. Producers can sort hay supplies into quality groups, then match the hay to the nutritional needs of each group of livestock, he said. Reducing hay waste is important, Schmitz added, including by covering hay and storing it so it has minimal contact with the soil.

France reports worsening bird flu situation

The spread of bird flu has accelerated recently in France, the European Union’s second-largest poultry producer, the country’s farm ministry said recently, raising concerns of shortages. France had already detected a rise in bird flu outbreaks over the summer after seeing its worst wave of the disease last season, which led to the culling of about 20 million chickens, ducks and turkeys and a sharp drop in poultry and foie gras output, Reuters reports. By December 20, 217 bird flu outbreaks had been detected on French farms, up from 100 on December 2, and the number of cases has also risen sharply in wildlife, the ministry said.

How certifications can help satisfy customers and raise beef producer margins

Beef producers looking to increase their margins may be able to do so by becoming certified under one of a number of programs available to help meet consumer demands. “Over 55% of consumers want to know where livestock were raised and the process involved,” Kelsey Aye, north central regional manager at IMI Global, said at the recent Montana Stockgrower’s Convention. A growing market of shoppers want to purchase animals raised without antibiotics or hormones, Aye noted. Demand is growing in the European Union, which requires cattle to be certified as “Non-Hormone Treated.” Each level of certification has different documentation requirements, but the value back to the producer can be substantial, The Prairie Star reports.

What the new federal spending law includes for agriculture

The $1.7 trillion federal spending bill passed late last year includes significant funding for agriculture in 2023 and beyond, Feedstuffs reports. The legislation includes $3.74 billion to offset crop losses due to droughts, wildfires and other disasters, as well as $494.5 million for livestock disaster losses. A new program to address climate change, as well as conservation funding, were also included in the law. While some agriculture leaders had been hoping the legislation would include visa reforms allowing for more immigrant workers in the United States to address agriculture workforce shortages and rising labor costs, the final spending package left those provisions out.