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USDA cattle inventory

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By Doug Shepherd

Here’s some interesting information provided by Dr. Kenny Burdine, University of Kentucky Extension livestock agriculture economist, on the USDA’s Jan. 1 cattle inventory report released last week.

Beef cattle numbers decreased again, estimated down just less than 1 percent. A lot of attention likely will be given to a 2 percent increase in beef heifer retention. Here at home, Kentucky beef cow numbers were estimated to be down around 2 percent, while beef heifer retention in Kentucky was estimated to be down 3.3 percent.

Here’s a few additional comments about these numbers:

  • Remember these numbers compare Jan. 1 of this year to Jan. 1 of last year. This is important because in the spring of 2013, we still were seeing a lot of conversion of pasture and hay ground to row crops. While this pressure may have eased some recently, these cattle numbers were affected by that pressure this spring.
  • On a percentage basis, the increase in beef heifer retention is close to what was seen last year. The key difference is beef cattle numbers decreased 3 percent during 2012, compared to the 1 percent estimated during 2013.
  • Remember, cow numbers and heifer retention can’t be compared on a simple percentage basis because of the magnitude differences in the two numbers. The 2 percent increase in heifer retention amounts to around 90,000 more heifers being held for beef cow replacements. As a percentage of the beef cow herd, that is about .3 percent.
  • While weather challenges certainly impacted some key areas — Texas, the northern plains and the western United States — there were some areas that added cows. Significant increases in beef cow numbers were seen in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. One could get the impression overall cattle numbers will stabilize if weather cooperates during 2014 and we may start to see some expansion, although heifer retention numbers suggest it will start slowly.

HCCA Insurance Meeting. The Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association now is offering a group health insurance plan that provides coverage under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The Hardin County Cattlemen’s Association will offer an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown for those interested. This is a dinner meeting, so reservations are needed and can be made by calling the Extension Service at 270-765-4121 or by going to www.hardinext.org.

This insurance is provided by IMPACT — Kentucky Agriculture Industry Trust, which is an employee benefits health and welfare plan which offers health, dental, life and disability insurance to its subscribers. Association membership is required to participate in the health and welfare plan. And even if you are not currently a member of either Hardin County or Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, membership to both groups is open to anyone. Membership will be discussed at the meeting and applications will be accepted.

With health care reform changing the landscape of benefits, the trust’s program may benefit your farm, family and employees. All medical plans use the Anthem Network, the largest network of providers available in Kentucky. The Delta Dental Premier and PPO networks are the largest dental networks in the commonwealth.

The program will be presented by individuals who have been contracted to provide this service in Kentucky. The county cattlemen’s board of directors felt like this program most likely benefit a lot of locals involved in agriculture, so they’re offering this program on how to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Douglas W. Shepherd is a Hardin County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call him at 270-765-4121.