Michigan beef herds at a crossroads

Strong competition for farmland and increased profitability of raising corn, soybeans and other crops is causing many beef cow/calf herd owners in Michigan to ponder their future.

To address the issue of turning cow/calf pastures into cropland , the Michigan State University beef team will offer “Feeding Michigan’s Beef Cow Herd in 2013 and Beyond,” a two-part Michigan State University Extension series, at three locations in Michigan. The series will address various feed alternatives for beef cow/calf herds and look at the economics of each.

“When a grain farmer will offer $100 per acre or more to rent the land to raise corn or soybeans, it is hard for a cow/calf producer to ignore the offer,” said Jerry Lindquist, MSU Extension educator. “There is less risk for the landowner in renting, the return is almost the same, and the owner is not tied to the farm daily to keep a management eye on animals. Because of this, plows were turning under pastureland and hayfields across Michigan this fall with the intent of chasing $7 corn next spring.”

Lindquist believes there is still a bright future for Michigan beef producers. Feeder calf producers will have to make changes in their operations to realize more profits, but the future looks promising over the next few years for those that do.

“First, we must realize that some of that pasture and hay land is not suited for tillage,” Lindquist said. “Some of it is sloped and highly erodible, and some of it is on very wet, untilled soils. Those acres are best kept in sod.”

To register for “Feeding Michigan’s Beef Cow Herd in 2013 and Beyond,” visit bit.ly/feedbeef2013 or contact beef team member Phil Durst at 989-345-0692 or Jerry Lindquist at 231-832-6139. Sessions run from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates at:

A live Internet webinar feed will also be available to producers across the state.