Dan Voorhis The Wichita Eagle
The weather may be about to get really cold, but the outlook for cattle farmers gathering in Wichita this week is pretty warm.
About 900 Kansas cattle farmers and family members are expected for the Kansas Livestock Association Convention, which starts Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Wichita.
Ranchers may be ready to keep more breeding heifers and to start rebuilding their herds after years of declining numbers caused by drought and unfavorable economics.
The economics are finally favorable: The drought has moderated, cattle prices are setting records and the cost of corn, a key input, is about half of what it was at its peak.
Tips on how to start rebuilding is the topic of a panel discussion at the convention featuring ranch management consult Burke Teichert, Kansas State University professor Glynn Tonsor, and Sunflower Supreme heifer development program director Jaymelynn Farney.
"There is a lot of consideration for starting to hold back heifers, so we may be at the turning point, although not everybody is in a position to do that," said Todd Domer, the association's director of communications.
Other speakers at the convention include Bruce Vincent, a third-generation logger from Libby, Mont., who will encourage farmers and ranchers to become more involved in combating animal rights and environmental activists, and CattleFax executive vice president Randy Blach, who will talk about trends in the cattle market.