BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - The U.S. Beef Industry has endured two relatively recent droughts, one late in the previous decade and one early in the current decade. The industry has been able to replenish cattle numbers, adding three million beef cows back into the inventory since the low in 2014. The stabilization of the nation’s cow herd was made possible by very impressive productivity. Randy Blach is CEO of Cattle Fax, a company that does Beef Industry research and analysis and provides its members with information to help them make management decisions.
“Thirty-two million beef cows is where we were when the drought hit, so we’ve come right back to that. The thing I should remind your listeners of is we have so much more productivity today than what we had five, ten years ago. We take more pounds of beef off very animal with the genetics and nutrition that we have, so the productivity has continued to increase over time. When you look at the decline in numbers that we’ve experienced because of our better genetics and that we have, we’ve actually offset about seventy-five percent of the loss in cow numbers over time with more yield per head.”
Blach was quick to dispel the idea that ranchers today are doing things the way that they’ve always done them.
“We spend so much time on animal husbandry practices, doing a better job of getting these cows in good body condition scores where they can breed up. Making sure we can keep a high percentage live calf crop, wean a high percent calf crop. Keep our animal health challenges to a minimum wherever we can when they move through our production systems. All that increases productivity.”
Blach says the numbers point to astonishing productivity within the beef industry.
“We’re going to have the largest beef production in the history of our industry this year. 1975 was our peak in cattle inventory numbers at one hundred thirty-two million. We have ninety-eight million head of cattle today compared to a hundred thirty-two, and we’ll produce two billion more pounds of beef today in 2018 than we did in 1975-76. So the productivity machine is alive and well.”