August 13, 2015 - 8:00 PM
HEAT KILLING CATTLE (SEX) DRIVE
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Beef is meeting supply needs so far this year, but it hasn’t been easy for ranchers as they deal with drought and extreme conditions that leave cattle not wanting to mate.
Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattleman’s Association, says the hardest hit areas in the province’s Interior are the Chilcotin Region and the southern areas near Princeton and Penticton.
"On record we’re one of the hottest summers that we’ve ever had. That really makes it challenging as well because the cattle — like you and I — don’t like the heat just as we don’t like 40 below. So it could have some other effects on us other than the feed and water supplies,” he says. “The areas hit are as hard as they’ve ever been hit."
The extreme heat, Boon says, could alter this year’s conception rate as well, but the numbers remain unknown until pregnancy checks begin.
"There's no appetite for them to breed," he notes. "Sometimes we'll end up in these heat waves where cattle don't have quite the conception rate as other years."
Cows without calves this year could be sold because of food shortages.
Grass-fed cattle are being turned onto grain earlier, because of the drought, and Boon says the cost of feed has increased during the drought as well, though he expects the price to start dropping.
"There’s been some situations where we haven’t been able to make full use of grass because water has run out, but those are just things that can happen,” he says, adding restricted watering could continue because of low flow rates in nearby rivers and streams.
To make matters worse, the dry conditions created the perfect haven for grasshoppers in the fields.
“They’ve created some real issues for both hay production (and) on the pastures,” Boon says. "Those areas that it seems have been hit have been hit hard with a double whammy."
In July, the federal government offered a tax deferral to farmers who had to sell some livestock after they were unable to feed the animals.
“The tax deferral certainly helps to offset that, but it’s not the desired option because we still have to get rid of those cattle,” Boon says.
To prevent selling livestock, the cattleman’s association is connecting farmers who have extra feed or the ability to graze cattle to those with limited options.
“We’re hoping every day the skies open up and drop some rain on us,” Boon says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015