Despite Drought, Cow Slaughter Trends Lower

Despite Drought, Cow Slaughter Trends Lower

Despite an expanding drought, U.S. cow slaughter is down 0.5% from last year and draws attention to how cull cows impact America’s beef consumption.

For the week ending July 20, USDA reports total beef and dairy cow slaughter at 114,500 head, down 3.4% from the same week a year ago. Over the past four weeks – including the holiday-shortened week – total slaughter was 455,700 head, down 0.5%.

“The decline in cow slaughter may come as a surprise to those looking at some of the dry conditions that have developed in the Texas Panhandle and Western Kansas,” writes Len Steiner in the Daily Livestock Report. “But even as this region accounts for a large share of the US beef cow herd, and thus slaughter, it is important to remember that cows are widely distributed around the country.”

USDA reported U.S. beef cow slaughter for the last four weeks increased by 20,300 head, or 9% compared to the same period last year. During the same four weeks, however, dairy cow slaughter was down 22,400 head or 10% from a year ago.

California’s beef cow inventory was 665,000 head on January 1, but the number of dairy cows in the state is much larger at 1.725 million head. Dairy cow slaughter in region 9 is down 11% during the last four weeks compared to last year.

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