Historic drop in Texas cow herd21 December 2011
The Associated press reported on December 19 that the worst drought in Texas’ history has led to the largest-ever one-year decline in the leading cattle-state’s cow herd, raising the likelihood of increased beef prices as the number of animals decline and demand remains strong.
Since January 1st, the number of cows in Texas has dropped by about 600,000, a 12% decline from the roughly 5 million cows the state had at the beginning of the year, said David Anderson, who monitors beef markets for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. That’s likely the largest drop in the number of cows any state has ever seen, though Texas had a larger percentage decline from 1934 to 1935, when ranchers were reeling from the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, Anderson said.
Anderson said many cows were moved “somewhere there’s grass,” but lots of others were slaughtered. He said that in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas, about 200,000 more cattle were slaughtered this year, a 20 percent increase over last year. That extra supply could help meet increased demand from China and other countries, but the loss of cows likely will mean fewer cattle in future years
Oklahoma, the nation’s second-largest cattle producer, also saw about a 12% drop in cows, Oklahoma State University agriculture economist Derrell Peel said.
Nationally, the number of cows has dropped by an estimated 617,000 this year, a 2% decline from the 30.9 million animals on Jan. 1. That number would be larger, but states in northern plains such as North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, increased their cow herd.