Animals and humans are no longer the sole consumers of corn-based products. With the production of ethanol on the rise, corn used for livestock feed is becoming less plentiful, and more costly. For Concho Valley sheep and goat producers, it's becoming a problem.
"Those higher feeding costs will eventually force some of our high end producers to exit the market," says economist Bill Thompson of the Texas A and M Extension Center. "They simply can't afford to feed prices at this elevated level, so they elect to exit the market. And that reduces the supply."
Thompson says for those who stay in the business, the cost of feeding livestock will continue to rise --not just sheep and goats, but also cattle and poultry.
Sheep and goat producers at a field day at the Texas A and M Research Center in San Angelo came out to learn how they can continue to feed their livestock, and still make a profit. Suggestions included allowing sheep and goats to eat more grass, which requires less corn-based feed. And producers may have to consider raising different breeds.
"What we have traditionally selected for in a cheap grain market may be different from what we want to grow when we have more expensive grain," says John Walker, resident director of research at the A and M Research Center. "We may be looking for smaller animals that don't require as much grain."
Speakers at Thursday's field day say the higher cost of corn will not only increase the cost of feeding sheep and goats, but also poultry and cattle, which rely heavily on corn-based feed. And the end result, they say, the price of meat which consumers pay is about to start heading up.