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Agricultural News

OSU's Dr. Derrell Peel Talks Cow Slaughter and Herd Dynamics this Fall

Mon, 05 Sep 2011 16:15:03 CDT

OSU's Dr. Derrell Peel Talks Cow Slaughter and Herd Dynamics this Fall Cow slaughter continues at a pace well above last year in the Southern Plains. In this week's look at the cattle marketplace, OSU Extension Livestock Market Economist Dr. Derrell Peel says that beef cow slaughter in federal Region 6, which corresponds to the worst drought area, is averaging 150 percent of year ago levels for the past eight weeks. For the year to date, beef cow slaughter in the region is 123 percent above a year ago. Beef cow slaughter in all other regions for the year to date is down 6 percent, resulting in a total national beef cow slaughter that is 101 percent of last year. However, beef cow slaughter outside of Region 6 is 4.5 percent above year ago levels for the past eight weeks resulting in total beef cow slaughter higher last last year for the past few weeks.. Additionally, significant numbers of cows have moved out of Texas and Oklahoma to other regions, though it is hard to know how many cows have been relocated. All of this likely means that cow culling for the remainder of the year will not follow typical seasonal patterns both inside and outside of the drought areas.

In the drought regions, it seems clear that most of the cows normally culled for age or productivity reasons have long since moved to market and are part of the increased slaughter already documented. Additionally, many younger or still productive cows have also been sold, either to slaughter or to new owners in other regions along with some relocation of cows by owners in the drought region. This raises the question of what to expect in the drought area for the remainder of the year. Though most of the normally culled cows have already been sold, continued dry conditions will presumably force additional cow liquidation through the fall. One would presume that most producers have by now determined if it is feasible to keep cows through the winter or not and that additional movements might be at a slower pace than summer levels. However, there are reports that pregnancy evaluations are, in some cases, showing significantly reduced pregnancy rates due to the effects of the drought and this may lead to some additional culling this fall.

Drought liquidation may have an impact on beef herd culling in other regions for the remainder of the year. Beef cow slaughter in regions outside the drought area is also up the past eight weeks. Forage conditions in most of the rest of the country have ranged from very good to average and increased slaughter is likely not the result of poor forage conditions. However, the movement of drought region cows into other regions may be changing normal culling patterns. Producers with good forage may be culling early to take advantage of the opportunity to trade out cull cows for young cows from the drought zone or take in lease cows needing a new home. Additionally, many heifers held for replacement in the drought region have also been liquidated making more replacements available to producers in other regions. The availability of heifers and breeding cows from the drought area may help accelerate the herd expansion already in place in northern regions of the country.

The drought ensures that beef cow slaughter this year will be close to, or perhaps above, year ago levels on a national basis. The total beef cow herd will decrease by 2-3 percent this year. The regional impacts will be much more dramatic with herd growth likely in the Northern Plains and northern Rocky Mountain regions and double digit reductions in herds in Texas and Oklahoma.



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