A year with more ups than downs, say these cattle producers
It wasn’t without its challenges, but 2019 worked out better than many had feared
By Jennifer Blair, Alberta Farmer Express (Canada)
January 8, 2020
This past year may have been a better year for Alberta’s cattle producers than 2018 was, but you’d be hard pressed to find many who would call it good.
Between uncertain feed supplies, whiplash-inducing weather conditions, and variable cattle markets, producers across the province had to dig into their reserves, find a degree of patience, and call upon their hard-won experience to make a profit in 2019.
Here, three Alberta cattle producers share the ups and downs they faced this year.
Fred Lozeman, Claresholm
“For this area of the province, it was definitely an improvement over 2018,” said Lozeman.
“The first part of the year seemed to be relatively dry. The second part of the year turned out to be relatively wet. But the grass did grow. Our hay crops were probably a little below average, but definitely better than 2018.”
It was also a little easier to secure feedstuff this year — another improvement over last year, he added.
“That was a nice, welcome relief for a lot of people. We had adequate feeds we could grow or, if we had to, to purchase.”
But prices weren’t what he’d hoped for. Calf prices, while down a bit, were “satisfactory” but “it was definitely a challenge to make some money on finished cattle for a lot of 2019.”
“We dealt with very high feed prices in the early part of 2019, so I think that really affected the ability to make some profit on a lot of the cattle that we had on hand,” said Lozeman, who has a mixed operation.
“All of the things that go into making up those prices — including concern about trade disruptions not only in cattle but in hogs and canola — factored in to 2019 in terms of profitability.”
These ups and downs are just par for the course on Lozeman’s operation, though.
“I’ve been at this for 27 years since I came back to farming, and every year is a little bit different.”
But he has high hopes for next year. Cattle markets are looking stronger, and the moisture situation heading into winter should get next year’s season off to a good start.
“That’s always very gratifying to watch — when spring hits and the grass is growing great and the hay crops are looking good,” he said. “It’s not as stressful, so we’re looking forward to that.”
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