From the Ground Up: Beef Cattle Numbers

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With the drought that effected the Southwest in 2011, and another that damaged the central U.S. in 2012, the upcoming report on the size of the nation’s cow herd is expected to be down yet again. In this week’s from The Ground Up, Kailey Carey tells us there’s no quick fix to the problem.

“Our numbers are down, we know here locally in the Brazos Valley, that we’ve lost tremendous numbers of cattle, you know when will they come back, and will they come back?”

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Jason Cleere says that after the worst drought on record in 2011, the biggest challenge is going to be what the future holds from the standpoint of weather.

“A lot of producers really took a big hit, to try and make it through that, and a lot of cash reserves were spent, and they’re trying to build that back up, and they’re also a little bit cautious about what the weather will be over the next few years.”

Cleere says that even though 2012 was a much better year in terms of rainfall, rebuilding takes time.

“The question is when do we rebuild, and I think we need to have a number of fairly normal rainfall years where we continue the forage recovery, and producers become a little more confident in what the forage production will be because we get some rainfall. If they do that, then we can begin to add more numbers out there with a little more confidence.”

There are no changes that can be made that will quickly impact the amount of beef that is being produced.

“If we keep a replacement heifer today, it’s going to be another two years before she essentially can contribute to the production of our system, and so in the beef industry we’re looking long term out, and in reality, we’re probably another three to five years before we really see some numbers to come back.”