There has been a lot written about beef cow culling this year due to drought and high costs and most of that has focused nationally. This article looks at cow slaughter in the South. Federally inspected beef and dairy cow slaughter is reported regionally. The two regions that cover most of the South are regions 4 and 6. Region 4 is comprised of 8 states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. Region 6 includes Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico (a little further afield than the traditional South). These two regions only leave out Virginia, which is in region 3.
Region 6, the Southern region most affected by drought, has culled 668,000 beef cows this year, up 31 percent from last year (157,000 head). Beef cow slaughter in region 4 is up 55,000 head, or 18 percent, over 2021. In 2022, these states contained 44 percent of the nation’s beef cows. Dairy cow slaughter in both regions is slightly below last year.
A comparison of cow culling this year to that of 2011, during the last major drought in Texas and other parts of region 6, indicates that 8,000 more beef cows have been culled this year than in 2011. About 24,000 more beef cows have been culled in region 4 this year than in 2011. Both regions began 2022 with fewer cows than they had at the beginning of 2011.
Significant rainfall in parts of Texas over the last couple of weeks may curtail culling in the near future. Watch beef cow culling over the next 6 weeks heading into, seasonally, the largest cow culling weeks of the year nationally in October and November.