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So, Just How Big is the US Cow Herd? LMIC's Jim Robb Says It's Big, But Growth Rate is Moderating

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 10:24:09 CST

So, Just How Big is the US Cow Herd? LMIC's Jim Robb Says It's Big, But Growth Rate is Moderating

One thing the beef industry will be looking for as we start the new year, is the official number on the US beef cow herd, to get an idea on how much it has grown over the past year. As we wait for the United States Department of Agriculture to release this figure in its Inventory report for January 1st, 2018, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays reached out to Jim Robb, executive director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center, to get his thoughts on where those numbers might land.

“Well 2017 and 2018 are key transition points in terms of this cattle inventory cycle,” Robb said. “The heifer slaughter has come up dramatically. Cow slaughter is also up. So, our general guess would be to put that January 1 inventory up 1.5 to 2 percent year-over-year and that’s a slowing rate of growth, rather significantly.”

Robb insists the first six to eight months of 2018 will be key to how production progresses long-term, but for now he says it seems to be moderating. Based on insights from USDA, Robb says industrywide, we are approaching a herd size of approximately 32 million head. Not the largest that has been seen, but depending on cattle weights, it should be fairly manageable. Robb believes the industry will be able to produce near the same amount of beef per capita and net the same imports and exports in 2018 as seen in 2010. Looking ahead into 2018, though, Robb says the new year will continue to bring prosperity to producers, but perhaps not quite as much as 2017 did.

“Market-wise… we kind of had everything come together about as good as it could in 2017,” he said. “We don’t think we have to go back to 2016 calf prices. But, we do see with larger supplies - prices will be somewhat lower.”

Listen to Robb and Hays postulate on the size of the US beef cow herd and its impact on markets, on today’s Beef Buzz.

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.



Listen to Robb and Hays postulate on the size of the US beef cow herd, on today's show, click below
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