Drought continues to pressure cattle industry

A livestock economist says drought continues to have a huge impact on beef cow inventories.  

University of Missouri’s Scott Brown says especially over the last two years. “Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota – those six states lost more beef cows than the rest of the country combined,” he says. 

He tells Brownfield with less than 29 million head of beef cows in the U.S., it is the lowest beef cow inventory since 1962.

But, Brown says expansion won’t happen quickly.  “Those heifers kept for breeding were down almost 6 percent,” he says.  “That’s pretty tight and tells me we’re not really doing anything yet to grow the overall herd back.”

He says any potential growth in the cattle herd will depend largely on profitability for producers and the weather forecast.

And once expansion begins, Brown says there will be an even bigger production hole in the short-term.  “When we start holding heifers back instead of putting them in a feed yard, all the sudden that hole in production will grow,” he says.  

Which, he says, will create additional opportunities for higher prices.

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