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Reports indicate continued contraction in the cattle herd

The USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report and the biannual Cattle Inventory report indicate contraction continues in the cattle herd, according to University of Missouri’s Scott Brown.  “The percentage of heifers on feed came in at a little more than 38% again this quarter,” he says.  “We’ve gotten now several quarters in a row of 37.5% and above.  It just tells me, both from a cow slaughter standpoint and percentage of heifers we seen on feed, we’re not building.”

And with ongoing drought conditions, he says this trend could continue.  “In terms of pasture conditions, the US that is in an extreme or exceptional drought is at the highest percentage we’ve seen since that data actually began in 2000,” he says.  

Brown says both will likely contribute to higher prices.  He reminds producers getting higher prices through less supplies is not really the outcome anyone wants to see.  “But, I think that’s what we have as we look ahead here,” he says.  

  • Getting higher prices with less supply is exactly what we need to see. The cattle business will never be profitable on a consistent basis unless the cattlemen control the supply of feeder cattle. If we would like to see 2014 prices year in and year out, that has to occur. Would it not be better to run 100 cows instead of 150 and make money than loose money on 100 head ? Less feed, less work, pastures under grazed and well grassed. Cut your numbers and keep under stocked but do it for our industry not just when mother nature forces you.

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