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Agricultural News

Drought the Culprit as Oklahoma Cattle Numbers Drop 600,000 Over the Last Twelve Months- Worse in the U.S.

Wed, 01 Feb 2023 05:20:48 CST

Drought the Culprit as Oklahoma Cattle Numbers Drop 600,000 Over the Last Twelve Months- Worse in the U.S. The 2023 January first Cattle Inventory report from USDA was about as expected with the US cattle herd shrinking significantly compared to just a year ago. For Oklahoma, the worse fears of the last twelve months came into focus as the state is ground zero for herd reduction.

According to USDA- All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2023 totaled 89.3 million head, 3 percent below the 92.1 million head on January 1, 2022. That's a drop of 2.8 million head of cattle year over year.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 38.3 million head, were 3 percent below the 39.4 million head on January 1, 2022.

Beef cows, at 28.9 million head, were down 4 percent from a year ago.

Milk cows, at 9.40 million head, were up slightly from the previous year.

Drought over the last year was the clear factor driving the declines- and Oklahoma is at the epicenter of the herd reduction- both in the total cattle numbers and in the US Beef Cow herd. Oklahoma is normally a state that runs a lot of cattle much of the year on permanent pastures as well as on seasonal wheat pasture- and the report showed the state down 600,000 head of cattle year over year to 4.6 million head- down twelve percent from January 1, 2022. That was easily the largest drop for any state in actual herd number liquidation. Oklahoma has accounted for 21.5% of the total US herd decline by itself in 2022.   

Oklahoma Farm Report's Ron Hays talked with OSU Extension Livestock Market Economist Dr. Derrell Peel about the report on Tuesday afternoon- and Peel says the poor condition of pastures for months has meant far fewer calves being pastured in the state this year.

When it comes to beef cow herd numbers- Oklahoma also is easily the largest state in number of beef cows that have been forced off the ranch and headed to the packer. Just over 1.06 million cows have been lost from January to January- and Oklahoma accounts for a loss of 140,000 of them, leaving 1.981 million beef cows who have calved in the state. Texas has a much larger cow herd to start with, 4,300,000, and their actual loss of 125,000 head is the second in the nation in actual cows being culled. You add the loss of 106,000 cows in Kansas and 99,000 in Nebraska- and you have 470,000 cows that have left the ranch in these four states or almost half of the total reduction for the year.

Peel reminded Hays that with drought still hanging on in Oklahoma and Kansas and to a lesser extent in Nebraska- we might not be a tthe bottom of the liquidation yet.

Click here to review the complete report from USDA released on Tuesday,

Click on the Listen Bar to hear Dr. Peel and Hays discuss the numbers and what they may mean given lingering drought.


Ron Hays talks Cattle Inventory numbers with OSU Livestock Economist Dr. Derrell Peel
right-click to download mp3


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