Contraction continues in the cattle herd

University of Missouri livestock economist Scott Brown says the latest livestock slaughter report from the USDA indicates producers are liquidating cows and they aren’t holding back replacement heifers.  “Year-to-date beef cow slaughter is 13.1% above year-ago levels,” he says. “That just tells us the drought and lack of profitability both, have been important. It’s now just beef cow slaughter if you look at heifer slaughter for September it was 8.1% above year-ago levels.”

He tells Brownfield demand has been strong for beef, but with even tighter supplies coming, there is still a lot of uncertainty in 2023 and beyond.  “We can take a little bit of the shine off of where these prices could go if demand were to weaken,” he says. “I’m beginning to see more forecast for Real GDP with the minus sign in front of it for 2023.”

Brown says the two things that matter most to producers right now in terms of keeping or culling their hers are drought and the cost of production.

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