June 3, 2014

Cattle herd expansion. Yes or no?


With Nebraska moving into the number one cattle-on-feed state, there has been a lot of discussions about the status of staying number one. Part of that equation is the size of the nation’s cattle herd.

Dr. Derrell S. Peel from Oklahoma State University Extension shares the following update:

Cherry & MulberryThe effects of many years of cattle herd liquidation and the inevitable decreases in beef production have become glaringly obvious in 2014.  Cattle slaughter is down 6.3 percent leading to a 5.7 percent decrease in beef production so far this year.  Cattle and beef prices have reached record levels and the certainty of high prices for the foreseeable future makes the question of cow herd expansion one that is top of mind for the industry and increasingly for consumers as well.  Herd expansion will make tight beef supplies even tighter for two or three years before beef production responds but the sooner expansion starts, the sooner beef production can grow to meet domestic and international demand for U.S. beef.

The January 1, 2014 inventory of beef replacement heifers indicated a 90,000 head year over year increase, up 1.7 percent from 2013.  While this indicates producer intentions regarding heifer retention, there is no guarantee that intended replacements will actually enter the cow herd.  In fact, in both 2012 and 2013, more replacement heifers were in inventory on January 1 but unfavorable conditions led to herd liquidation rather than expansion in those years. Moderate improvement in forage conditions in last half of 2013 led to strong indications of herd expansion intentions including the additional replacement heifers mentioned above and a 13.5 percent decrease in beef cow slaughter.  Increased heifer retention has also been indicated by sharp year over year decrease in heifers on feed since last October.  Despite apparent herd expansion intentions in late 2013, enough liquidation occurred early in the year to result in a 0.9 percent decrease in beef cow inventory for the year.

So far this year, the indications are that herd expansion plans are still moving forward. 

Continue reading…

If you or your family has a beef herd, what are your plans for the future….retaining or selling?

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