Rebuilding the Herd: Why it could be years before things return to normalcy

It could be several years before pasture conditions return to normal, allowing the beef herd to start rebuilding.

Lance Zimmerman, the Senior Beef Analyst at Rabobank says feed supplies are tight and cattle inventories remain low; so much that high cattle prices are still not enough to cover feed bills. He says one of the most important factors to rebuilding the herd will be better calf prices, which have only recovered 55 percent of the full decline seen last year.

Zimmerman recently sat down with the Oklahoma Farm Report to discuss his research and said getting moisture in the Southern Plains will be crucial.

“We need to see moisture conditions just come and replenish what we lost, but have some staying power so that when we look across those prairies, they’re healthy, green and vibrant again. When we look at our hay stocks, we have an ample supply to get us through a winter and then a little margin on the sides. That’s going to take a couple of years and that’s really one of the aspects that the paper focuses on. Let’s turn the tide on the heiffer numbers, let’s turn the tide on the cowherd slaughter that we’ve seen over the last several years. Let’s get the green grass replenished and then we can start talking about a healthy, robust expansion again, but we’re probably still two years away before we can see that happen,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman says even if demand holds steady, declining supplies will mean beef prices will go up and so will the cost to consumers.

Related Stories
A recent study by the Environmental Defense Fund in Kansas is urging farmers to diversify crop portfolios to mitigate risks and ensure long-term sustainability.
As farmers gear up for the spring planting season, it’s crucial to remember that financial planning goes hand in hand with early season crop protection.

Agriculture Shows
From soil to harvest. Top Crop is an all-new series about four of the best farmers in the world—Dan Luepkes, of Oregan, Illinois; Cory Atley, of Cedarville, Ohio; Shelby Fite, of Jackson Center, Ohio; Russell Hedrick, of Hickory, North Carolina—reveals what it takes for them to make a profitable crop. It all starts with good soil, patience, and a strong planter setup.
Champions of Rural America is a half-hour dive into the legislative priorities for Rural America. Join Host and Market Day Report Anchor Christina Loren as she interviews members of the Congressional Western Caucus to learn about efforts in Washington to preserve agriculture and tackles the most important topics in the ag industry on Champions of Rural America!
Farm Traveler is for people who want to connect with their food and those who grow it. Thanks to direct-to-consumer businesses, agritourism, and social media, it’s now easier than ever to learn how our food is made and support local farmers. Here on the Farm Traveler, we want to connect you with businesses offering direct-to-consumer products you can try at home, agritourism sites you can visit with your family, and exciting new technologies that are changing how your food is being grown.
Featuring members of Congress, federal and state officials, ag and food leaders, farmers, and roundtable panelists for debates and discussions.
Host Ben Bailey hops in the tractor cab, giving farmers 10 minutes to answer as many questions and grab as much cash as they can for their local FFA chapter.