KBTX - From the Ground Up - Headlines

From the Ground Up - Liquidation of the Cow Herd Continues

The drought that started last fall forced Texas ranchers to look at their cow herds with a very critical eye and cull any animal that was a marginal producer.

With no end in sight to the dry conditions we’re experiencing, lots of cattlemen are culling again even though many of their herds are down to what they considered to be the best animals they had.

“We’ve got a lot of producers that are either out of water, or out of hay, or out of grass, or all of those. We’re at the point now that we have no fall pastures coming along. There’s not very much hay available and what hay is, is very expensive and it’s been brought in from all parts of the country.”

Pete Scarmardo runs a livestock auction barn, a stocker calf operation, and is a cattle broker.

“We’ve probably seen the most unprecedented liquidation of the cow herd that we’ve ever seen in Texas. The total cow herd when we started this in Texas was about 5 million cows, so if you look at liquidating 35% of those cows, and then re-locating another 5 to 10% of them, then you’ll see that Texas is going to drop from 5 million cows to maybe a little over 3 million cows, which is going to make our calf crops smaller.”

Market analysts are predicting cattle prices will remain high, and that normally encourages an expansion of the national cow herd.

“Now other parts of the country, that are having good years now, that have had adequate forage, that are selling big calves, high priced calves, those people will build herd numbers, and those people will continue to increase their numbers there, but in our part of the world, it’s going to be a while before we do.”

Recovery from the drought will take time.

“There’s not one rain that’s going to solve all our problems even if it’s a 4 or 5 inch rain. We’ve got to have several rains over an extended period of time to try to build our water tables back up to get water back in our ponds and lakes and then try to get enough subsoil moisture where we can try to grow grass or grow crops.”

I’m Bob French, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.


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