Livestock economist expects cattle inventory to decline again

A livestock economist says he expects an already small cattle herd to get smaller.

University of Missouri livestock economist Scott Brown says just how small remains to be seen. “My crystal ball says 3% lower,” he says.  “We’ll see whether I’m right. But, don’t hold me to that. All indications to me is inventory will be lower.”

He tells Brownfield widespread herd expansion remains a challenge for many producers right now. “Really, an annual slaughter of beef cows that 7% or less of beginning cow inventory to actually talk about holding cows back,” he says.  “We’re a far cry from that as I think about 2023, I think we were closer to 9% in terms of how many we soldered out of beginning inventory.”

The USDA’s biannual Cattle Inventory report contains the inventory of all cattle and calves in the U.S., the number of operations, and size group estimates by class and state.

The report comes out later today at 3pm ET/2pm CT.

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