Meat & Livestock News

Beef Cow Slaughter Numbers Decline, Yet Herd Growth Remains Stagnant

Recent data indicates a decline in beef cow slaughter numbers, but according to University of Missouri livestock economist Scott Brown, this does not necessarily signal an expansion of cattle herds among producers. This trend deviates from the usual pattern where a decrease in slaughter numbers might suggest producers are retaining beef cows for herd growth.

Brown highlights that the beef cow slaughter numbers in 2022 were exceptionally high, largely due to drought conditions. He points out significant regional disparities in these numbers.

For instance, in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, the year-to-date figures show an 18% decrease. In contrast, states like Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, which experienced more dry weather, saw a more modest reduction of 2.4% in beef cow slaughter.

Looking ahead to January 1, 2024, Brown anticipates a potential increase in beef cow inventory in a few states. However, any such increase is likely to be confined to states that experienced better weather and pasture conditions in 2023.

This suggests that while some regions might see a modest uptick in herd numbers, the overall trend across the country does not indicate a significant shift towards herd expansion.

This analysis provides a nuanced understanding of the current state of beef cow numbers, highlighting the impact of regional weather patterns and the complexities of interpreting slaughter data in relation to herd growth.