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Animal Science: Today and Tomorrow

March 26, 2014

Dr. Tom Troxel                                                                                Dr. Michael L. Looper

Tractor Tragedies

A child dies from injuries on a farm an average of once every 3.5 days. The most common situation involves a tractor. With the coming of spring also comes the increase of spring activities on farms across the country including Arkansas. In many situations, grandparents own the farm and their children and grandchildren visit and enjoy the farm. Visiting Grandpa and Grandma’s farm is a wonderful experience for a grandchild but please consider these incidents.

• A 2 year old Texas boy died when he fell from a tractor driven by a relative.
• A 2 year old Missouri child died when he fell from a tractor and was run over.
• A 4 year old New York boy was injured in an incident involving 2 pieces of farm equipment.
• A 17 month old Colorado boy was run over and killed by a skid steer operated by his father.
• A 14 year old Georgia girl was scalped by a tractor’s PTO shaft.
• A 9 year old boy from Vermont was killed while riding in a trailer being pulled by his father’s tractor.
• A 1 year old North Dakota boy died after falling from a tractor driven by his father. His 4 year old brother survived.
• A 6 year old Minnesota boy died with his grandfather when the tractor they were riding rolled over.
• A 5 year old Kansas girl died when she fell through the windshield of a combine driven by her father.

Did you notice any trends in the stories above? When children are injured or killed by machinery, a parent or grandparent is frequently the operator. Do you have children or grandchildren? Can you imagine how you would feel in that situation? The biggest tragedy of all – these deaths were 100 percent preventable.

Allowing children to ride on a tractor is considered a tradition by many. But remember — “It’s easier to bury a tradition than a child.” (Source: Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education)

Cattle Prices Higher

The Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri released its Baseline Briefing Book ( which looks long term into the future. Here are a few of highlights.

Cattle Supplies and Prices

• After reaching record annual highs in 2013, fed and feeder steer prices are expected to sharply increase again in 2014
• The record feeder steer prices will combine with a decrease in cow-calf production costs to yield average net returns of well over $200 per cow in both 2014 and 2015.
• 600 to 650 pound calf prices should peak in 2015 at approximately $185/cwt. and decline to $147/cwt. in 2020 to rebound to around $158/cwt. in 2023.
• Beef cow inventories declined during 2013 for the seventh consecutive year. Beef cow inventories will remain around the 30 to 31 million head mark from 2013 to 2023.
• This will result in a 2014 calf crop that is more than 10% below the average of the early 2000s.
• The US calf crop will increase to approximately 35.8 million head by 2018 but will decline towards 35.2 million head by 2023.
• Cow prices will peak out at $943 per head in 2015 but then start a low decline to 2020 ($737 per head).

Meat Supply

• Total meat production in 2013 was lower than the 2008 level.
• The total of U.S. beef, pork, chicken and turkey production will increase at a rate slower than the U.S. population growth for the fourth time in a row in 2014.
• As all livestock sectors adjust to the reduced input costs that have now been in effect for a few months, production growth will resume in 2015.
• Retail prices for most meat products will continue to climb in 2014, though at a slower rate than in recent years.
• Beef prices remain firm relative to other products. One pound of beef at the retail level will cost about the same as one pound of pork plus one pound of chicken in 2014.

Feed Expenses

• As input costs decline over the next couple of years, the prospects for improved profitability brighten for many operations.
• Higher feed prices have contributed most to higher livestock production costs, although higher energy prices and land values have also played a role.
• Feed expenses in 2013 were approximately $260 per head. Feed expenses are expected to decline thru 2023 and remain around $202 to $207 per head.
• The amount of corn planted is expected to decline from 95.4 million acres in 2013-2014 to 89.9 million acres in 2023-2024.
• The yield is expected to increase from 159 bushels/acre in 2013-2014 to 181 bushels/acre in 2023-2024.
• Corn prices will peak in 2013-2014 at $4.42/bushel and continue to decline thru 2023-2024 to $3.87/bushel.

For more information about cattle production, visit or or contact your county extension office.


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