- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

KIMBALL, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota ranchers who took part in a Mitchell Technical Institute program lost an average of $100 per cow last year, after earning an average profit of $150 per cow the year before.

The Daily Republic (https://bit.ly/2pib0Lg ) reported the institute has 100 farms enrolled in its farm and ranch management program.

Lori Tonak, an instructor at the institute, says the cattle market is still shaken by price drops in 2015. Of the 45 producers she works with in central South Dakota, the most profitable earned $12 per cow.

“Every cow-calf producer out there may not have lost money, but they didn’t make much, if they made any,” Tonak said.

Tonak said farmers can cut costs by grazing cattle longer on cover crops instead of placing them in a feedlot.

Farmer Gary Hoing made changes to his grazing tactics at the suggestion of his son, who is enrolled in the program. He now uses 4 acres per cow instead of 6 acres per cow, allowing him to slightly increase his herd size.

Hoing said it may take up to 10 years to make up the losses he saw last year.

“You can’t control the weather and you can’t control the markets, so you just deal with it as it comes,” Hoing said.

Tonak said cattle markets bounce quite a bit before stabilizing and recent price increases for calves may be a promising sign.

“I’m hoping it stabilizes at some point, but I really don’t want to predict. … Nobody really seems to know what’s going on,” Tonak said.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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