Group of cattle in a feedlotThough $6.00/bushel corn prices are reason to cheer for Midwestern corn farmers, the story’s different for cattle feeders in the southern Plains to whom the market surge is pressuring margins and causing some to look for other feed ingredient sources to defray some, if not all, of the rising costs. Overall cost of gain (COG) has risen almost 17% since October 2020, with current COG for placed steers around $103/CWT. It may encourage some to resort to more forage-based diets more similar to backgrounder rations. But there’s one problem with that strategy: The drought has shortened forage output projections in much of the western half of the U.S., so prices for things like alfalfa could be just as relatively high. The supply issue on the hay front already has some cow/calf producers, backgrounders and small feeders looking to alternatives too. See more on the feed price and supply issues.