Irma Smacks Florida Beef Cattle Industry Hard

Florida agriculture officials have completed a survey of cattle ranches hit by Hurricane Irma last month and the damages add up to as much as $237.476 million.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said beef cattle provide sales of $549.1 million and the sector is one of the state’s most important land uses. More than 1.7 million animals graze on about 6.5 million acres of pasture and woodlands, according to the department.




The survey indicated a wide variety of losses and damages. About 100 animals were killed, each with a market value of $800, at a loss of $80,000. Officials said there were about 187,000 calves waiting to be shipped to out-of-state feedlots. They were under stressful conditions and there were fears they would each lose about 50 pounds in weight (loss of $75 per calf), with losses valued at $14 million.

Floods affected forage crops severely. Many ranchers who lost forage crops to flooding will have to purchase additional hay and supplements to feed their animals during the winter. An estimated 45 additional feeding days (hay and supplement, valued at $1.85 per day per head) for 601,250 cows, will result in unexpected hay and supplement purchases valued at $50 million.




Flooding and other damage to ranch infrastructure will affect production. The Ag agency expects that up to 7% of the cows in Florida will not carry calves to weaning, or even breed this year. This is an estimated loss of 52,500 calves, each with a value of $787, or $41. 4 million .

About 150,000 acres of pasture were affected by significant erosion and flood damage. Renovating these areas will cost around $40 per acre in replanting and related costs, for a total cost of $6 million.




Officials said of the more than 18,000 beef cattle ranches in Florida, an estimated 6,000 suffered significant damages to structures, fences, and equipment. There are also large amounts of storm debris that must be cleaned up. It will cost $4,000 per ranch in debris cleanup and rebuilding fences for a total of $24 million. Damage to barns, sheds, housing, roads, and other infrastructure is estimated at $90 million. Equipment damage is put at $2,000 per ranch for $12 million.

Other crop losses to beef cattle producers in Florida are estimated to be $14.1 and are included in the total $237.476 million.




More dairy cull cows are going to slaughter for meat production and the conditions are getting better. That’s according to the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) commissioned by the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. The audit results were unveiled recently at the 51stWorld Dairy Expo.

Dairy cows now represent 20% of the U.S. beef supply, a sharp increase from 5.5% in 2011.

The 2016 audit results showed lameness in cull cattle has improved significantly. Today, 76% of cull cattle are identified as sound, compared to 51% in 2007, which was the last time the report audited cull cows, according to Meatingplace.Com.




Cash cattle trading was at a standstill Wednesday in the Southern and Northern Plains and inactive on light demand in the Western Cornbelt. No trend was established. Live trades in the Southern Plains last week were at $109 per cwt. In Nebraska, live trades were from $109 to $110.50 and dressed trades were from $172 to $174.

The USDA’s choice cutout Wednesday was down $1.08 at $196.32, while select was down $1.26 at $188.76. The choice/select spread widened to $7.56 from $7.38 with 185 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME feeder cattle index was 5 cents higher at $155.22 for the seven days ending on October 10. This compares to Wednesday’s October settlement of $154.25.