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2020 FALL CATTLE                                                                           The Midwest Cattleman · October 1, 2020 · P10
      continued from page 3                                                                                   any real certainty  of what’s
      for fall marketing. So what’s                                                                           to come.  What are consum-
      causing these higher prices?                                                                            ers going to be doing? What is
      SUPPLY                                                                                                  the government going to put
                                                                                                              into effect? How is our ability
         The supply of feeder cattle                                                                          to trade going to look? What
      into the market has remained                                                                            does the coronavirus look like
      high due to the backlog of cat-                                                                         in the coming months?
      tle that were ready to head
      into the feedyards when pro-                                                                            BEST ADVICE FOR
      cessor    shutdowns      started                                                                        UNCERTAINTY
      happening. Some of these cat-                                                                              It is difficult to know what
      tle were held during the sum-                                                                           to expect for future markets,
      mer in hopes that the market                                                                            but you can still be prepared
      would recover once processing                                                                           to make the most of your sit-
      started back up. This will re-                                                                          uation.
      sult in fewer cattle that would    driving up demand for feeder  for corn and soybeans.  This              The best advice I can give
      normally have been ready.          cattle in the yards.               will help in the feedyards as     you right now is to:
      That scenario seems to have                                           it will help pull feeding costs     • Know your breakevens.
      played out, with processors        WEATHER                            lower, allowing for better cat-     • Know your cost of gain on
      back up and running, moving           The  drought  monitor  is       tle prices.                           your calves.
      those cattle through the sup-      showing drier conditions for         So there is hope. The mar-        • Look at what the market
      ply chain.                         many parts of the Southwest        kets have come up, the feed           is offering and when.
      DEMAND                             as we continue through the         supply is looking strong, and       • Consider some risk man-
                                         year.  These drier conditions
         As  feeders moved  through      may become more influential        there is potential for demand         agement.
      their inventory that came in       as we head into winter.            for cattle from the feedyard.
      this spring, the cattle that                                          But in a year where we’ve         Noble Research Institute
      were held by producers have        FEED PRICES                        been a little off — I mean
      run the supply a little short,        Current     estimates     are   way off — it’s hard to have
                                         pointing toward record yields

                                                                    By Katie Camero
         Evidence  shows  that  wild-                                                                         posely leave dry leafy remains
      fires have become more wide-                                                                            on  grazing  lands  to  protect
      spread and severe over the                                                                              other aspects of the environ-
      years,  with  the  ongoing  West                                                                        ment, such as future forage
      Coast blazes bearing testament                                                                          production, protection from soil
      to the worrying trend.                                                                                  erosion, and defense against
         Firefighters and farmers                                                                             certain weeds, the researchers
      have tricks of their own to pre-                                                                        explained.
      vent fires from sparking and to                                                                            Generally, fine fuels should
      contain them enough for suc-                                                                            be kept at or below 1,200 to
      cessful defeat. But there might                                                                         1,300 pounds per acre during
      be a secret weapon that hasn’t                                                                          the spring and summer to en-
      been getting the attention it de-                                                                       sure flames, if a fire starts, stay
      serves.                            levels of fuel,” the researchers  they consumed 11.6 billion         below four feet — the “critical
         Cattle.                         wrote in their blog post. “Wide- pounds of fuel and roamed           threshold that allows firefight-
         Researchers with the Uni-       spread and severe wildfires are  about 19.4 million acres of pri-    ers to safely access an area
      versity of California Coop-        predicted to increase over time  marily private rangeland.           from the ground without heavy
      erative Extension set out to       in  California. This ‘new  real-     The team’s data comes from      equipment,” the team said.
      evaluate how much fine fuel        ity’ requires that we take ad- county crop data,  Agricultur-           Conditions can differ de-
      — grasses and other plants         vantage of all the tools in our  al Census data and their own        pending on temperature, wind
      known to start fires — cattle      management toolbox to protect  that they’ve collected over the       and humidity levels, they
      eat and how their feeding be-      public safety while meeting our  years. But still, there are acres   added.
      havior affects flame activity.     broader rangeland manage- of grazable land untouched by                 “These  fuel  removal  esti-
         The  team  concluded  that      ment objectives.”                  cattle or very lightly exploited   mates are based on the best
      without cattle grazing, there         Planned fires, also called  by the hungry animals, mean-          available data, but this data
      would be  “hundreds to thou-       “controlled burns,” are often  ing  “there are opportunities         does not describe the complex
      sands” of additional pounds        used to reduce dry fuels that  to improve fire safety,” the re-      details and variation of cattle
      of fine fuels per acre of land,    can  lead  to  destructive  blaz- searchers wrote.                   grazing across the state,” the
      which could lead to “larger and    es, according to the National        There’s also room for more      researchers  wrote. “There  is  a
      more severe fires.”                Park Service. These “prescribed  cows to join the feast. The team    need for more consistent and
         The team’s study results        fires” are also used to help en- learned  that  1.8  million  beef   accurate accounting of cat-
      have yet to be published, but      dangered species recover and  cattle grazed California lands         tle numbers and grazed acres
      they offered their preliminary     clear land for animals.            in 2017, yet the number of cows   across the state to better un-
      findings in a blog post pub-          Beef cattle can be found graz- there today  “are only about       derstand grazing’s impact on
      lished Aug. 31.                    ing in every California county,  57% of their peak numbers in        fire fuels.”
         “Reducing fire hazard is not    according to the researchers,  the 1980s.”                 
      as  simple  as  grazing  range-    except San Francisco. In 2017,       Sometimes, farmers pur-
      lands to bare soil or even to low
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