How did drought contribute to the decline in the latest cattle inventory report?

The USDA’s twice yearly Cattle Inventory Report showed the lowest U.S. Beef Cow inventory since 1962.

University of Missouri Extension Professor, Dr. Scott Brown, shares what this means for the industry moving forward.

“I don’t think we turn around very quickly in terms of beef cow inventory. When you see the heifer retention number that was down 6%, it just tells me that we’re not going to be turning around probably in 2024. I will always say, so we’re likely heading to higher cattle prices, although general economy matters a little bit in this discussion, but I think I don’t like potential record prices coming because of wheat supplies. I want strong demand to be driving those record prices. We’re going to be in a very tight supply situation. I just hope consumers hang with us as we go through the next couple of years and they likely face higher beef prices.”

Dr. Brown said one of the surprises in the report was Missouri’s herd number, which was up 20,000 head from the previous year.

The report failed to have good news for producers in Oklahoma. The state’s herd came in at 4.6 million head, which is down 600,000 from 2022.

The Oklahoma Farm Report says it was easily the largest drop of any state in actual herd number liquidation and that is due to the ongoing drought. Dr. Derrell Peel with the Oklahoma State University says poor pasture conditions have lead to far fewer calves in the state this year.

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