Source: Oklahoma Farm Report radio network

In January of 2023, the beef cow herd number issued by the USDA was at 28.9 million head. This number is a 4 percent drop compared to January of 2022.

Looking back to 2019, the beef cow herd number was at 31.8 million head. It has trended lower year by year since then.

And most analysts agree that the predicted beef cow herd number for January of 2024 is sure to be lower than a year ago. “I think the beef cow herd, on January 1 of 2024 will be down at least 2 percent, and I am really thinking it is going to be more like 2.5 percent on a year-over-year basis,” Peel said.

Based on the continued rates of slaughter and feedlot placements, Peel said it only makes sense that there will be a large drop in numbers.

“If my number is at all close to correct, it will be the lowest beef cow herd since 1961,” Peel said. “It is just a tick over 28 million head is where I have got my estimate right now.”

There is no pipeline of replacement heifers, Peel said, so this will prologue the rebuilding process.

“When we do start trying to hold heifers for rebuilding, we are going to be holding heifer calves,” Peel said. “That in of itself is a two-year process to get those heifers into production.”

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