Economists Eyeing Up Cattle Numbers:

Jul 29, 2022

“‘Til the cows come home” doesn’t apply to quite as many cattle these days.

Hauling a heavier load: With drought hitting hard for the past two years, plus drastic inflation on inputs like feed, fertilizer, and fuel, ranchers are steering their way to the sale barn with more cattle on their trailers.

Hoofing it to the sale barn: The nation’s cow and cattle herd is down 2% from last year in nearly every category, and it’s the lowest it’s been in the last eight years, according to a report from USDA’s NASS.

Last year, 40% of farmers sold off part of their herds because of drought. This year, a fun (read with heavy sarcasm) additional thing called inflation is to blame for higher culled cattle numbers.

Soundbite: “Just as expected, Friday’s midyear Cattle Inventory report showcased lower numbers throughout the entire report, as cattlemen have dealt with financial hardships and prolonged drought over the past two years, which has led to historical culling practices,” said DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart.

There’s good news, and there’s bad news: Cattle prices are expected to increase, meaning producers who have sustained through drought and inflation will see the rewards. But on the flip side, the long-term impact may mean the U.S. could have more competition in international market share as production declines.