Drought and high costs see US cattle herd shrink

1 July 2013

Federally Inspected Slaughter for the 4-week period ending July 13, 2013, was estimated at 626,750 against 631,750 a year earlier. The year to date total of 17,047,000 is 1.5% down or 251,000 fewer head of cattle. This compares with 638,700 against 638,000 in our last report.

Slaughter amounted to 12,640,000 for the year so far which was 1.7% below the previous year or 218,000 fewer head.
Export sales of raw hides for the period showed China in top spot with 1,065,700 (1,053,000). Next came S Korea with 396,700 (243,700); Mexico with 86,000 (66,800); Taiwan with 51,000 (128,600) and Japan with 32,700 (16,100).

Hong Kong took 25,000 (20,100); Indonesia 24,200; Thailand 22,800 (47,500; Vietnam 16,300 (57,100); and finally Germany with 4,700. In addition, Italy contracted for 5,800 kip (3,600) and The Netherlands 1,300 kip.

Wet-blue sales for the same period showed Mexico with 140,300 (111,000; China with 137,900 (110,800); Italy 76,400 (118,200); Vietnam 51,100 (23,000); and S Korea 32,400 (14,800).

Thailand purchased 27,400 (12,600); the Dominican Republic 19,600 (21,300); Japan 12,900; India 6,400; Turkey 2,900 (4,800); and Taiwan 2,000 (8,900).

The US cattle herd continues to shrink as drought and high costs force producers to slaughter more beef cows than expected showing a rise of 2.6% or 35,906 head more than the year earlier. Slaughter levels are expected to tail off in the second half of the year.

By next January the beef cow herd may have reduced another 400,000 head after an 863,000 decline in 2012. According to Jim Robb of the Livestock Marketing Information Center this will lower the total to 29,295,000 head.

USDA data shows beef cow slaughter to June 8 as 1,406,547 head versus 1,370,641 a year ago. Dairy cow slaughter totalled 1,404,080 head against 1,362,730, up 41,350 head or 3%.

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