Cattle Market Update: Weather’s effect on herd expansion and predictions on rebuilding

Herds are showing growth in areas like the Northern Plains and some states in the Western U.S. where ranchers have seen more rainfall. However, for operations across the rest of the United States, that is not the case.

Any cattle herd expansion seen right now is extremely regional, according to CattleFax CEO Randy Blach in a recent conversation with Brownfield Ag News.

Herds are showing growth in areas like the Northern Plains and some states in the Western U.S. where ranchers have seen more rainfall. However, for operations across the rest of the United States, that is not the case. Blanch forecasted these producers will see herds continue to shrink before they begin to experience widespread growth again.

His prediction comes as beef cow slaughter was down 13 percent in the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) latest Livestock Slaughter Report.

The latest Cattle on Feed Report did not give much indication of when producers would begin rebuilding their herds. USDA Livestock Analyst Mike McConnell said we will learn more in the next round.

“Next month’s report will also include a breakout of cattle on feed, not just overall, but also by sex,” McConnell explained. “So, we’ll have a look at the steers and heifers that are on the feed and that might give us a little bit more insight into whether or not heifers are going into the feedlot to be finished out for beef production in the next few months or whether or not they might be retained for the next breeding cycle we have coming up. But for better or worse, we’re going to have to wait until next month to get that additional insight.”

The next Cattle on Feed Report comes out on October 20.

A major influence in herd rebuilding is, of course, drought. This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor shows almost half of the nation’s cattle inventory is currently being affected by drought.

Wetter-than-normal conditions were seen along the East Coast this week as Tropical Storm Ophelia brought producers some relief from drought. However, it was drier than normal across the majority of the rest of the country, with temperatures still being above normal for producers in the Plains, Mississippi Valley, and Great Lakes.

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