Cows Come To Town: Data Says Herd Shrinking


By Greg Henderson, Drovers 

April 29, 2021


Beef cow slaughter during the first quarter of 2021 was the largest since 2010, and that follows the fourth quarter of 2020 which was the largest Q4 slaughter since 2011. The large cow slaughter culling suggests the downward trajectory of the cattle cycle has not shifted, says the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC).


LMIC notes heifer slaughter is trending higher in the first quarter, too. During March, heifer slaughter was the highest during a month since 2019. Heifer slaughter data suggests that herd turnover is not freshening the herd with younger cows but is shrinking.


The mix of heifers as a percent of the cattle on feed total remains higher, LMIC says, similar to rates at the top of the last cattle cycle. The latest cattle on feed report indicated heifers were 37.7% of the on feed mix. Heifers on feed varies considerably state to state...