Beef cow and heifer slaughter rates remain high

Contraction in the cattle industry is showing no signs of slowing.

University of Missouri’s Scott Brown says high beef cow and heifer slaughter rates are digging a really big hole for the cattle industry. “Down the road, I think if we ever get ourselves to where we’re thinking about rebuilding the herd, we’re going to dip even harder trying to build back,” he says. 

He tells Brownfield the slaughter rates are noticeable in two areas, Federal Region Six which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, and in Region Seven, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. “Federal region six is 30% above year-to-date relative to 2021 and just a little history it is 55% above where we were in 2019,” he says.  “Region seven has been running 34% above year-ago levels year-to-date and 30% relative to 2019.”

Brown says while tighter supplies typically push prices higher, there is a lot of uncertainty in 2023 as demand is being pressured by a slowing broader economy.

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