Beef cow slaughter declines, but an economist says there’s more to the story

A livestock economist says despite a decline in beef cow slaughter numbers, most cattle producers still aren’t growing their herds. University of Missouri’s Scott Brown says usually when there is that kind of decline, producers might be talking about holding beef cows back.  “I just remind producers that 2022 beef cow slaughter numbers were very high,” he says.  “Drought-induced high as a matter of fact.”

He tells Brownfield there are significant regional disparities. “If we look at Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas year to date, we’re down 18%,” he says. “When you look at Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, where there was more dry weather, beef cow slaughter is down 2.4%.”

Brown says he wouldn’t be surprised to see beef cow inventory up in a few states on January 1, 2024. But any uptick in numbers would likely be in states that saw better weather and pasture conditions in 2023.

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