Looks like we’re starting the new year where we left off the last one: with beef cow slaughter. But, this time with some good news. Beef cow slaughter for the last two reported weeks, to date, in December were smaller than the same weeks the year before. For the first time in 2022, weekly beef cow slaughter declined. These weeks were the first year-over-year decline since July 2021.
Weekly beef cow slaughter for the weeks ending December 10th and 17th totaled 75,900 and 76,900, respectively. Weekly beef cow culling during the same weeks of 2021 totaled 79,800 head. Cow slaughter in the South has been a little below last year during most weeks since October. In Region 6, which includes Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana slaughter was only below last year for the week ending December 10th.
Some of the decline is seasonal. Beef cow slaughter tends to drop off in December after the highs of October and November. The fact that slaughter has been so large in 2022 may also contribute to some decline. Some winter weather might have also contributed to a bit lower slaughter. Beef cow slaughter often picks up briefly in January after the rush of the holidays and also after the 1st to get to the next calendar/tax year. In the coming weeks, watch to see if cow culling is below that of early 2022. Reduced culling will be needed to begin to slow cattle herd shrinking, but it’s likely too early to see any evidence of that.
Author: David Anderson
Professor and Extension Economist Livestock and Food Products Marketing, Dairy, Policy