Cow-calf producers face the continued challenge of rising feed costs. In an ethanol-dominated world, it isn't going to get any better.

"Our research indicates that combined pasture, harvested forages and other feed costs have been increasing at the rate of $5/beef cow/year since 2000," says Sally Northcutt, American Angus Association (AAA) genetic research director.

According to a recent AAA-conducted study, the typical U.S. cow-calf operation will spend $35 more per cow in 2007 to meet herd nutritional requirements compared with expenditures at the beginning of the decade. "That's a sizeable increase and it underscores the need for produces to optimize their cow size and milk genetics according to feed costs and feed availability within their individual operations," Northcutt says.

In 2000, annual feed costs were estimated at $209/cow. By 2006, the average jumped to $239. Extending this trend, feed costs are estimated at $245/cow in 2007.

"You can't simply shrug and accept the upward pressure in feed costs and remain profitable," she says. Lactation requires large amounts of feed energy, she adds, making it important that each producer identify the right milk genetics for their situation. "Each producer must find creative ways to combat these inflationary trends. Part of the solution is making sure your cows have the right mature size and milking ability for your environment."

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-- American Angus Association release