livestock

On a cloudy summer day, Iowa farmer Wendy Johnson lifts the corner of a mobile chicken tractor, a lightweight plastic frame covered in wire mesh that has corralled her month-old meat chickens for a few days, and frees several dozen birds to peck the surrounding area at will. Soon, she’ll sell these chickens to customers at local markets in eastern Iowa.

The demand for beef, pork and chicken raised on smaller farms closer to home is growing. Now, some Midwest farmers, like Johnson, are exploring how to graze livestock to meet those demands while still earning a profit.

CC0 Public Domain

Colorado livestock could be eating hemp as early as next year, thanks to a bill directing the Colorado Department of Agriculture to study the use of industrial hemp in animal feed.

As The Greeley Tribune reports, the study would be headed by the commissioner of agriculture and would result in a recommendation by the end of the year.

CC0 Public Domain

If you’ve ever wanted your own cow, or more specifically steak, a new crowdfunding website could be just the thing for you.

Tom Dorsey / Salina Journal

Diversification to manage risk has returned as an overriding theme in the cattle industry, as faltering farm economics force producers to re-acclimate to leaner times.

Two regional cattlemen who bootstrapped their way to success — without a farm to inherit — talked about how they diversified their profit centers during the Tri-State Cow-Calf Symposium in Goodland, hosted by Colorado State University, Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In a hog barn in rural Iowa, veterinarian Paul Thomas’s approach sends pigs scurrying. He watches for unusual behavior. As he walks the length of the barn, Thomas notices one of the two-month-old hogs nestled against the railing at the edge of its pen and reaches over to gently pet the pig’s back. The pig shakes its head and drowsily gets up.

“He’s just sleepy,” Thomas says, and by the time he’s spoken the words, the pig has trotted off to join its pen-mates.

In the next room, Thomas hears something different.

Down times in farm country persist, but not yet a ‘crisis’

Jan 17, 2017
Elliot Chapman

Farmers across the Midwest are trying to figure out how to get by at a time when expected prices for commodities from corn, to wheat, to cattle, to hogs mean they’ll be struggling just to break even.

“Prices are low, bins are full, and the dollar is strengthening as we speak and that’s just making the export thing a little more challenging,” says Paul Burgener of Platte Valley Bank in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Pixabay

A federal regulation that took effect Jan. 1 will only allow livestock feed and water laced with antibiotics to be used only under a veterinarian’s supervision.

Flickr

Cattle prices will likely continue to decline in 2017, as cattle inventories across the country will continue to expand.

Rising Livestock Antibiotic Sales Cause Concern

Dec 21, 2015
USDA / Creative Commons

Sales of antibiotics for livestock have been steadily rising over the past few years, reports The Rural Blog. Antibiotic sales increased 23 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Farm Incomes Decline in 2015

Sep 9, 2015
Let Ideas Compete / Flickr Creative Commons

Net farm incomes in 2015 will be down 36 percent from last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That’s the sharpest drop since 1983, notes The Rural Blog.

Farm income hit a record high in 2013. But since then, it’s dropped by 53 percent. Livestock income is also expected to fall 10 percent from last year. The USDA "expects growers to accelerate sales of 2015 crops this year to help generate more cash."

AMA seeks ban on antibiotics for weight gain

Jul 7, 2014
Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

The largest association of U.S. physicians is calling for tighter rules on antibiotic use in livestock. 

The American Medical Association (AMA) says there should be an outright federal ban on using antibiotics to plump up farm animals. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily phase out the use of antimicrobial drugs that promote growth in livestock.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Once again, the prognosticators are saying beef prices are on the rise. We’ve seen this before—last year, the drought and high feed prices were being blamed. This time, the supply is tight and with livestock farmers looking at lower costs of production, some may keep animals on the farm to help increase their herds, rather than sending them to market. Since consumer demand typically goes up at this time of year, Lee Schulz, a livestock economist at Iowa State University, said the combination will increase the price meatpackers pay to producers.

The long, slow decline of the U.S. sheep industry

Oct 14, 2013
Tatiana Bulyonkova / flickr commons

Over the last 20 years, the number of sheep in this country has been cut in half. In fact, the number has been declining since the late 1940s, when the American sheep industry hit its peak. Today, the domestic sheep herd is one-tenth the size it was during World War II.

simplyyourhealth.com

It’s illegal in Oklahoma to deliver or advertise raw milk, and a growing number of Oklahomans are choosing raw milk.  The increased demand has prompted an interim legislative impact study on the legalization of raw milk delivery and advertising according to State Impact Oklahoma.