U.S. cow herd buildup over: Economist

US - If recent data is any indication, any build-up in the nation’s cow herd is over.
calendar icon 24 January 2007
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Cow and heifer slaughter have been up in recent months, John Lawrence, Iowa State University Extension livestock marketing economist, told producers at the recent 4-State Beef Conference. Beef cow slaughter was up 17.9 percent from a year ago, although Lawrence says very few cows were sent to town in 2005 because the industry was in the expansion phase of the cattle cycle.

“After mid-year, cow slaughter really accelerated,” he said. “I think we’ve snuffed out expansion, at least for a while.”

Heifer slaughter increased over the fourth quarter of 2006, Lawrence added, meaning more heifers are heading to the feedlot rather than into the breeding herd.

“WE HAD 16 percent more heifers on feed in October 2006 than we did the previous October, according to the last (USDA) Cattle on Feed Report,” he said.

A combination of factors appears to be driving the trend, Lawrence said.
One is the lack of pasture in much of the Southern Plains; the other might be higher corn prices, which sent feeder cattle prices sharply lower over the last four months of 2006.

He said demand for corn from the ethanol industry will continue to play a factor this year and in the near future.

“Estimates indicate usage is going to grow from 5.5 billion bushels up to 10 billion bu., and last year we grew 10.7 billion bu. in this country,” Lawrence said.

Source: Iowa Farmer Today
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