From The Ground Up: Farmers try to produce beef with limited cattle

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:00 AM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Beef producers are preparing for changes in the industry as cattle numbers are expected to decline in 2023.

“We’re going to have at least 4% fewer cows in the US this year in 2023 than in 2022. Four percent year-over-year change is a big decline,” said David Anderson of Texas A&M Agrilife.

Usually, farmers can make up for losses in the herd through the practice of culling. That’s when animals that are poor producers or do not fit into the operation because of size or temperament are removed from the herd and replaced with a younger cow, hopefully improving the overall performance of the herd.

But, because of drought and higher than normal costs, farmers aren’t able to replace the cattle, according to Anderson.

“That’s the signal to cut back, to reduce production,” said Anderson. “Really the combination of drought I think that’s the most important reason, but higher costs, even though calf prices have been higher, costs have gone up even faster. There’s just an economic reason that we’ve cut down the size of the herd.”

Outside of Texas, drought has been severe in the western part of the United States, which is also impacting production nationwide.