From the Ground Up - Falling Beef Cattle Numbers

During 2011, the drought experienced in Texas was responsible for continuing a liquidation of cattle that had began a couple of years before during another dry spell.

Our area never bounced back enough for any significant numbers of cattle to come back, and it appears that the numbers will continue to fall before they come back up.

“I think our average rainfall around here is about 37 inches a year. That grows a lot of grass, a long growing season, and so when you have all that resource there, we tend to use it because it’s there and we can use it, we can use it to produce beef.”

David Anderson is a livestock economist for Texas Agrilife Extension.

“The data’s all out. 2011’s the driest year on record, broke the 1917 record, and another big year was in the 50s, so that’s a lesson maybe we get forced to have to re-learn, because we don’t have that experience like that over that long period of time.”

Ranchers may make changes once they re-stock.

“I think that was strategy a lot of people may be looking at as maybe having fewer animals when they re-stock so with their grass, that grass that they have goes further, and you can avoid buying as much really expensive feed, or planting forage crops that take a bunch of fertilizer that’s really expensive now compared to a handful of years ago.”

A report is out this week about the status of the national cow herd as of January 1.

“In terms of nationwide, we’re going to have probably at least two and a half per cent fewer beef cows, so again we’ll have the fewest number of beef cows in 50 years in the U.S., but that just continues a trend that’s been going on for the last several years in response to high costs.”

What numbers should we expect from Texas, Oklahoma, and other drought stricken states?

“I think we expect to see a decline in beef cow numbers that will be the largest year to year decline on record.”

And that record goes all the way back to 1917. I’m Kailey Carey looking at Brazos Valley Agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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