County sees slight decline in local cattle population

Published 1:25 am Saturday, September 6, 2008

Recent reductions in fuel prices may be too little, too late for cattle farmers in Covington County, who have already reduced the sizes of their herds to meet the increasing economic demands for fuel and feed.

Chuck Simon, coordinator at the Covington County Extension Office, said that some farmers have changed the products used to support the farm, like fertilizer, to reduce overhead costs instead of reducing the number of cattle in their herd.

“A lot of folks have swapped over to chicken litter and the availability of that is sparse at times,” Simon said. “So many people are trying to get their hands on the litter and the availability does not always meet the demand.

“Some folks are cutting back and reducing the caring capacity of their land by putting less cattle on item.”

Simon said some farmers have been forced to reduce the number of cattle to only the number that can be supported by the natural growth of the land, which eliminates the need to purchase hay or other types of feed.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the number of cattle in Covington County dropped from 34,000 head in 2007 to 31,500 head in 2008. The number of beef cows dropped from 18,500 head in 2007 to 17,000 in 2008.

The Alabama Cattlemen’s Association said that as of Jan. 1, there were 677,000 beef cows that have calved in the state, a decrease of 40,000 head from earlier year figures. The state ranks 17th among all states in beef cow numbers.