There is a lot of confusion regarding copper and sheep. Many have been told for years to steer clear of copper in sheep feeds and rations no matter what. However, the truth is a little less black and white than that.
Everyone I know hates weeds. I’ve spend countless hours with my grandmother pulling dandelions and crab grass, her most hated enemies. Pastures are no different. Cattle producers want to look over their pasture and see a sea of lush, green grasses and legumes. So what happens when the scene is darkened with brush and broadleaf weeds? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to utilize the weeds to maximize the available forage?
The beef cow herd is at the lowest level since 1963, and the heifers are going to the feed yard at a rate that does not support herd expansion. Several factors around the country are contributing to the further decline in the cow herd. The rate of decline may have slowed due to lower culling activity on a national basis, but drought conditions in some parts of the country are sending cows to the sale barn. In the Midwest and Southeast producers are dealing with reduced pasture availability due to competition for crop ground. In addition, some heifers that were held back for replacement may have been sold due to tight cash flow as the result of a slow start to the grazing season which resulted in unplanned hay purchases. What will be the determining factor for when the herd begins to expand? Cash flow and forage availability will be short term factors to consider. However, the decision to retain heifers as replacements needs to consider the long term demand for breeding stock and feeder cattle. If the feeder cattle market stays strong and the cow herd continues to decline, those who decide to retain heifers this year should be very well rewarded for the decision.
I recently had a visit with a 20+ year veteran of the livestock premix business. He told me his customers seem to be just as profitable, or more so, when feed costs are high. I’m sure that statement would open up a lot of argument, but there may be some interesting perspectives before jumping to any conclusions. One of which may be that fine tuning and optimizing nutrition for the best return on investment would make sense when profit opportunities are highest (high market value of cattle) or when managing overall high input costs.