Oklahoma's Latest Farm
And Ranch News
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Oklahoma Beef Cattle Numbers Drop Sharply
Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, offers his economic analysis of the beef cattle industry as part of the weekly series known as the “Cow Calf Corner” published electronically by Dr. Peel and Mark Johnson. Today, Dr. Peel talks about cattle numbers in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has been impacted by drought more than any other state, by several measures. The January 1 inventory of all cattle and calves in Oklahoma was down 11.5 percent year over year, from a 2022 total of 5.2 million head to 4.6 million head. The decrease of 600,000 head was double the second largest all cattle decrease in Nebraska. The decrease in Oklahoma cattle inventories included decreases in the beef cow herd, replacement heifers, feeder supplies and feedlot inventories. 

The Oklahoma beef cow herd decreased by 140,000 head in 2022 (largest state decrease in the country) to a January 1 total of 1.981 million head, a 6.6 percent decrease year over year and the lowest beef cow inventory since 2016.  Oklahoma is still the second largest beef cow state (after Texas), but now is just fractionally larger than Missouri, which was unchanged in the last year. The liquidation in Oklahoma is not over. Drought conditions continue in Oklahoma with the latest Drought Monitor showing 94.84 percent of the state abnormally dry (D0) or worse, including 56.71 percent of the state in D3 and D4 levels of drought. In the first five weeks of 2023, the combined Oklahoma auction volume of cull cows is up 49.2 percent year over year. Hay supplies are very tight in Oklahoma, as in many other places, and some producers may face additional culling to get through the winter.

Replacement beef heifers in Oklahoma were down 2.5 percent year over year, a smaller decrease compared to the 5.8 percent decrease nationally in beef replacement heifers. Oklahoma remains the number two beef heifer state (after Texas) and ahead of South Dakota. The comparatively modest decrease in beef replacement heifers suggests that Oklahoma producers are putting the highest priority on retaining heifers over other classes of cattle despite unfavorable conditions.

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Oklahoma Farm Report's Ron Hays talks regenerative agriculture and ranching with Jimmy Emmons. Jimmy is a long time resident of Leedey, OK. He is the third generation on the family farm in Dewey County. He and his wife Ginger have been farming and ranching together since 1980. They have a diverse 2000 acre cropping operation growing wheat, soybeans, sesame, sunflowers, irrigated dairy alfalfa hay, canola, grain sorghum and several cover crops for seed.
Jimmy has been monitoring soil health with soil testing since 2011 utilizing cover crops to enhance soil health.

Jimmy and Ginger also have a 250 cow/calf herd and take in yearling cattle for custom grazing on the nearly 6000 acres of native range. Ginger is the primary cattle manager in the operation. The Emmons’ utilize an adaptive multi-paddock grazing system on their range and forages grown on crop ground. They use the system to keep the native grasses and soils healthy, maximize biological diversity and optimize animal health.

As Jimmy Says- Long Live the Soil!

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