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Better weather could speed up cattle herd expansion

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A South Dakota cattle producer says improved drought conditions in his area could spark some earlier-than-expected herd expansion.

Justin Tupper ranches and operates a livestock auction in St. Onge (western South Dakota). “If we can see a more normal-type spring throughout the midwest, we’ll see some retention of heifers,” he says.  “Short-term that will have some effect on the fat cattle market as we put those heifers back into production.  I think we’re definitely looking to the right direction.”

But, he tells Brownfield any expansion won’t happen overnight.  “The trouble we have in our area is that most of our cattle have moved already because of the drought conditions,” he says.  “We had less hay.  Now there are way less heifers available to go back to the country.”

Tupper says input prices are still a challenge.  “You know we’re always cheering for a good corn crop in the cattle industry,” he says.  “Then we can get some of those feed costs down and maybe we can get some profitability back into it.”

He says high hay prices have put even more pressure on the bottom line for producers.  

Better weather could speed up cattle herd expansion