Huge Cow Culling in Southeast? Not So Fast, My Friend!

Beef cow slaughter has been higher than year-ago levels for most weeks in 2021. National beef cow slaughter is up about 10 percent (or about 6,000 head weekly average) since July over the same period of 2020. In the southeast reporting region which includes AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC & TN, beef cow slaughter has been about 25 percent higher since July 2021 than it was during the same period of 2020. That is equivalent to an additional 2,000 head each week on average. This region accounts for about 15 percent of national beef cow slaughter. There has been some additional cow processing capacity brought online in the southeast in 2021 which helps explain the weekly increase in slaughter. But where are the cows coming from? Are producers in the southeast culling cows deeper than previously expected? Weekly auction receipts shed some light on these questions.

Combined weekly auction receipts for slaughter cattle (reported as both cows and bulls) from GA, KY, and MS are up 3 percent since July compared 2020. That 3 percent increase equals an additional 128 head weekly average. The data is messy, and I don’t have the data for the other 5 states in the region, but the receipts don’t suggest enough of an increase in the number of cows being culled in the southeast to support the big increase in beef cow slaughter in the region. It seems likely that a good portion of the increase in slaughter are cows coming from other regions. Backhauling cows is likely a contributor when calves or feeder cattle are trucked from the southeast to other regions and cull cows come back. The January Cattle Inventory report will tell a more complete story of the changes in cows in each state. 

Maples, Josh. “Huge Cow Culling in Southeast? Not So Fast, My Friend!Southern Ag Today 1(49.2). November 30, 2021. Permalink