I know that video clip going around looks awful, but let me give some context here.
There has been extreme heat and humidity in Western Kansas and cattle have died. This is normal, and 10,000 head total statewide is not a “mass die-off that will cripple the beef supply.” Not even close.
There are roughly six million cattle in Kansas. Of those, over two million are “on feed” in confinement feedlots in the western half of the state.
In the former United States, something like 125,000 head of cattle are slaughtered per day, Monday through Friday, with a reduced kill on Saturday. So, as you can see, 10,000 deads in a heatwave is statistically insignificant.
The cattle shown in the video were not on pasture, they were in a confinement feedlot, as we can see by their size and the reportage says “fat cattle”. That means: in the feedlot approaching slaughter weight. They were not on ranches, grazing. They were in feedlots. Standing on dirt, in fenced pens, eating grain (corn) and drinking water from feed troughs all day every day. These cattle hadn’t seen a ranch, or eaten a blade of grass, in months.
The reported “epicenter” of this heat event was Ulysses, KS. That’s my old stomping grounds, and I would take a spitball guess that within a 100 mile radius of Ulysses, KS there are close to a million cattle on feed in confinement feedlots, maybe more.
So 10,000 deads, statewide, really isn’t a “massive die-off”.
In the video, what you are seeing is cattle that died in the pen of heat stress, and the feedlot has used loaders to move the carcasses out of the pens, in preparation for burial. They will probably bring in Caterpillars to dig trenches and dispose of the carcasses thusly, according to the law, and common sense. Those carcasses cannot be processed, even for dog food, if I’m not mistaken. Can you imagine just the cost of the diesel to haul those carcasses to a rendering plant?
Also note that almost all the cattle are BLACK. Imagine that you weigh 1200+ pounds, have a giant fermentation vat inside your belly, and you are in a pen in SW Kansas, and the heat index is 105 degrees. Now, let’s also say that you have a low-grade respiratory virus, and thus you can’t purge heat as quickly as you should through respiration, and you are wearing a black fur coat.
You gonna die.
Do you know what the top-end of the “thermal neutral zone” of cattle is – that is the temperature at which the animal must work to stay cool? It’s 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you say the top-end of the human TNZ is in the upper-70s, then 100 degree temps are to cattle like what 125 degrees, outside, with no shade, with a full belly like Thanksgiving dinner all the time, would be to us.
Is this starting to make sense?
This isn’t Bill Gates killing cattle. Not that Bill Gates isn’t one of the most evil men alive, worthy of capital crimes against humanity trial and punishment, nor that he isn’t trying to eliminate meat and essentially control the food supply. He is. But 10,000 deads in a triple-digit heatwave in western Kansas isn’t a nefarious “Mass Die-off” that will cripple the beef supply. It simply isn’t. This has happened before – much worse, in fact- and will happen again. Heat death loss is a calculated and accounted-for risk in cattle feeding. As is death loss from blizzards and ice storms. It’s part of the deal.
UPDATE: I’ve been informed that the weather was worse than thought. The air was completely stagnant – ZERO wind – and there was effectively no nighttime temperature drop relief during this spell. Bottom line, if you say to me that there was low-five-figure death loss in this heat spell in western Kansas feedlots, my response is, “Is that all??”
I hope this context helps.
Now, since this post will go all over the place, especially in cattle quarters, let me say a quick word about my 16 hour cash cattle marketing DVD set. Yes. It’s still for sale, and no, I haven’t raised the price a cent in 14 years. It is still $500 even though the cattle markets have easily doubled since my first DVD release in ARSH 2008.
Yes, the rumors are true. I recorded the current second edition in March of ARSH 2011, and it includes modules on: Hyperinflation, bartering, including in a dollar-less economy for rounds of ammo and gallons of diesel, cost calculation in a dollar-less environment, and the urgency of eliminating all debt. It’s almost as if I saw all of this coming or something….
Who should buy it? Only people who will be engaging in actual livestock raising (cattle and sheep are the two species specifically addressed, but the concepts transcend all species, including hogs and poultry in a collapsed economy where vertical integration goes away). But of what size? All sizes. From five head, to fifty thousand. That’s the sweet thing about pure arithmetic: it scales from micro to macro.
If you have no livestock, nor intend to ever have any, and you buy it, I guess you might learn some interesting and generally applicable arithmetic concepts, but it would basically be a charitable contribution to me.
I will not teach any live cattle marketing schools again, so if you want the “Barnhardt” experience, it’s the DVD. And the DVD is really quite good, if I do say so myself. The ability to go back and review chapters as much as you’d like is actually a huge advantage over the live schools. And yes, it comes with a 65 page full-color workbook.
To purchase, email me at [email protected] and put “Cattle Marketing DVD” in the subject line. I’ll shoot instructions back right away.