At a time when smaller cattle herds are a strategic farm survival strategy, winter feeding comes at a huge cost amidst hard-to-find hay and feed at even-harder-on-the-wallet costs. Transporting that feed is another arm and a leg. And freight costs are likely to remain elevated all winter, according to a senior economist at a New Hampshire-based consulting group.

Despite the recent dip in crude oil prices, the U.S. Energy Administration’s recent inventory of diesel and heating oil is well below the five-year range and at the lower end of the range from the last 40 years. Tight inventories will continue to underpin diesel and heating oil prices.

How tough will this added expense be on cattle producers this winter? It depends on the severity of winter weather, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and overall market conditions.

Read more on freight prices here.