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Beef Buzz News

OSU's Derrell Peel Says U.S. Beef Cattle Numbers are Tighter Than Expected

Tue, 01 Feb 2022 12:04:43 CST

OSU's Derrell Peel Says U.S. Beef Cattle Numbers are Tighter Than Expected The biggest set of data the U.S. beef cattle industry receives annually just came out. The Jan. 2022 Cattle Inventory report shows a total of 91.9 million head of cattle and calves living in the U.S. on the first day of the year. That total is 2% below the 93.8 million head reported in Jan. 2021.

Derrell Peel, extension specialist for livestock marketing at Oklahoma State University, examined the report with Ron Hays, senior reporter for the Oklahoma Farm Report. Last week, Peel said market indicators, like an increase in placements of light-weight cattle in Nov. and Dec., gave warning that the Jan. Cattle Inventory Report could show a much tighter U.S. cow herd. Looks like his instincts, backed by years of experience, were right!

"Overall, I have to describe this report as somewhat bullish," Peel said. "We knew most of the numbers were going to be down regardless of what class of cattle you looked at, and they were, but in many cases, they were down a little more than expected."

Feedlots are in the business of keeping their pens full and right now, they are filling them with whatever they can get their hands on, Peel said.

"As time goes on, they are kind of borrowing against the future," Peel said. "What we are going to find is that cattle numbers get a lot tighter here in the first half of 2022."

A key indicator of future beef-cattle supplies is always the beef-cow herd. According to the report, cows and heifers that have calved mirrored the overall herd, down 2% from last year and accounting for 30.1 million head. Beef replacement heifers were down 3% at 5.61 million.

"They were down bigger than I expected," Peel said. "We did not know what the drought impacts were last year and that clearly was part of it, perhaps a little bit bigger than we anticipated."

As far as Oklahoma's beef-cattle herd goes, numbers were steadier than the national findings. Peel said that could be because most of Oklahoma avoided drought until recently. According to the report, Oklahoma's overall cowherd was down 2% at the beginning of the year, but the beef-cow herd was only down 1%.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor report, the West was crippled by drought conditions. In the West, exceptional drought conditions affected nearly 23% of the region, extreme drought conditions affected 37% of the region and moderate drought conditions affected nearly 12% of the region. As fall turned to winter, the West entered its wet season and the Great Plains have stayed abnormally dry and warm, opening the door for drought to take over the region.

Peel said whether producers are trying to grow the herd or not, the persistent drought is inhibiting that.

Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Ron Hays and Derrell Peel as they talk about the Jan. 2022 Cattle Inventory report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

Our coverage on the Oklahoma Farm Report of the 2022 Cattle Industry Convention and the NCBA Trade show is sponsored by Performance Beef from Zoetis. Performance Beef simplifies feed, performance and health data collection, without double data entry or complicated software. Track feed, generate real-time closeout reports, create accurate invoices, record health data at the chute, in the pen or pasture; or analyze performance trends - all in one place with ease. Try the app for yourself by clicking here.


Listen to Ron's conversation with Dr. Peel here.
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