Corn production meeting market demands

With the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) August Cattle on Feed report, which indicates 15 percent more cattle were placed on grain rations in August 2006 compared with last August, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) emphasizes its producers are more than adequately meeting the demands of all markets — feed, food, fuel and exports.

More than 2 million cattle were placed on grain rations in August, 15.4 percent more than August 2005. Feeder placements in 2006 also have been running ahead of 2005. Almost 770,000 more cattle were placed in the United States’ larger feedlots during August (more than 1,000 head) than August 2005.

The report also indicates that the majority of the increased placements have been feeders under 700 pounds. The large number of lightweight calves is a result of poor pastures resulting from recent drought conditions in some parts of the country.

While this may have some negative impact on ranchers, Bill Chase, chairman of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team, said higher cattle placements and the feeder placements will increase the domestic demand for corn and distillers dried grains (DDGs).

“Corn and DDGs have been essential as feed sources in this drought year, supplementing critically short grass and hay availability in the daily rations,” said Chase. “The feeder usage of the two ensures there will be sufficient corn to meet all domestic needs, even in a drought year.”

Chase also noted corn growers are meeting demand for the expanding ethanol market. For the calendar year 2006, ethanol production is expected to reach approximately 5 billion gallons, which would use almost 1.8 billion bushels of corn. Last year, the ethanol industry used 1.4 billion bushels of corn to produce almost 3.9 billion gallons of ethanol.

Pro-Exporter Network estimates beef cattle will consume almost 1.7 billion bushels of corn, the largest amount of any livestock species and more than 200 million bushels more than last year. Using USDA’s current 154.7 bushels per acre average yield, that’s almost 11 million acres of corn going toward beef rations.

In addition, beef cattle will consume a significant portion of the nearly 12.5 million metric tons of DDGs produced by the dry mill ethanol industry.

In 2005, livestock and poultry accounted for more than 55 percent of all corn usage.

Chase said NCGA has excellent resources available for producers to learn how to incorporate DDGs into their feeding programs, such as the Distillers Grains Feeding Recommendations manual and a Corn Distillers Grains pamphlet.

The information can be found at or by e-mailing the NCGA’s Melanie Gibson at [email protected].

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