Drought continues to pressure cattle industry

Cattle prices are forecasted higher as beef supplies are expected to tighten, but that doesn’t mean an expansion of the cattle herd is coming anytime soon.

University of Missouri’s Scott Brown says drought is the biggest contributing factor in the reduction in beef production.  “Dressed weights were down 6 pounds relative to a year ago,” he says.  “Steer slaughter was actually down 8.2%.  It’s heifer slaughter that’s up 4.8% and beef cow slaughter up 10.6% that got us less beef production.”

He tells Brownfield he’s keeping a close eye on federally inspected slaughter facilities in Regions 6 and 7, which include Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.  “Their year-to-date federally inspected beef slaughter was more than 30% above year-ago levels,” he says.  “Look in the last 12 weeks, the Iowa, Kansas Missouri, and Nebraska Region in total was 41.6% higher than where we were a year ago.”

And even with higher projected prices in 2023, Brown says there still aren’t any signs of herd expansion.  “Heifer slaughter up 4.8% and steer Slaughter down 8.2%,” he says.  “That again reminds us that we’re not holding females back to go into that herd.  The fact that cow slaughter has been high, and the mix of steers and heifers going to slaughter suggests we aren’t holding heifers back.”

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