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Agricultural News

Profitability and Range Conditions Driving Cow-Calf Producers to Aggressively Expand U.S Beef Herd

Wed, 12 Aug 2015 16:59:57 CDT

Profitability and Range Conditions Driving Cow-Calf Producers to Aggressively Expand U.S Beef Herd

Herd expansion is aggressively underway in the U.S. The midyear report released recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed indications that the nation’s beef cattle producers continue to rebuild the U.S. beef cowherd. The report showed cattle numbers are above 30 million beef cows. In speaking at the Southern Plains Beef Symposium in Ardmore on Saturday, Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) Director Jim Robb said the aggressive herd rebuilding continues, especially in the Southern Great Plains. He said LMIC members across the U.S. have seen herd expansion due to economics and to the improved grass conditions in nearly every state. He said producers are growing the herd, but the rate of expansion will begin to taper off.

“We get a pretty big kick in the first couple of years of this herd growth, because we are really transitioning away from beef cow slaughter and that’s a short term thing, you don’t keep pulling down beef cow slaughter,” Robb said. “So as we look at 2016 and beyond, the fundamental herd growth will depend more and more on heifer hold back and that will be the transition we start to make in 2016.”

The number of cattle needed in the U.S. beef cow herd will depend on the export markets.

“I think the international export demand can support herd growth and still profitable levels in the U.S industry, but that export demand is going to be the real driving force between whether we can really push these herd numbers higher than the last cyclical peak,” Robb said.

The U.S. beef cow herd could grow to 33 million head. Robb said there is enough beef demand domestically as well as internationally for those numbers to be feasible, but competing protein sources like pork and chicken will be influential as to how big this herd needs to be.

“We probably grow this beef cow herd overall by a total of six to nine percent, in terms of percent change over the herd growth rate, then we start to really look at how much we are depressing prices on calves and yearlings and how quickly that happens to really start the turn toward no more growth in the herd,” he said.

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Jim Robb at the Southern Plains Beef Symposium held Saturday in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to this Beef Buzz feature.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also 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.


Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Jim Robb of LMIC
right-click to download mp3


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