Liquidated Cow Herds to Come back with Stronger Genetics

Listen to Ron Hays talk with John Pfeiffer about the Angus industry and his outlook for cattle producers.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is visiting with Oklahoma rancher and former president of the American Angus Association, John Pfeiffer about the Angus business and what Pfeiffer is hearing from producers during this time.

Pfeiffer attended the 2022 American Angus Association’s convention and said the morale in the Angus business and the entire cattle business, in general, is positive.

“We kind of think if we get a rain, then with all the cows that have been liquidated and go to town, that again, the cow-calf producer is going to be in the driver’s seat,” Pfeiffer said. “We expect with just a few showers that mother nature and the good Lord will work with us. We are going to have a really good year next year.”

The cow numbers are lower than they were in the drought one 2011 and 2012, Pfeiffer said, so producers who have been able to hold onto their herd numbers are going to have an advantage in the market.

“They are also going to be in the driver’s seat with the packer somewhat too because we are going to be able to dictate price somewhat,” Pfeiffer said. “In some ways, it is almost kind of sad because we have worked really hard the last five or six years trying to increase the number of places to go to go these and with some independent people to do slaughtering and processing, and it is going to be really tough for them to make those ends meet, and I hope that is not the case.”

Pfeiffer talked about the remarkable improvements made to the Angus breed over the past 10 years.

“If you look about 10 years ago, 11 years ago, we were at about 17 percent acceptance rate for Certified Angus Beef,” Pfeiffer said. “This last year, we set a record number of pounds- over 1.265 billion pounds, and we had acceptance rates of over 35 percent.”

There is a demand for Certified Angus Beef, Pfeiffer said, but there is also a demand for prime Certified Angus Beef. It is going to be difficult to produce more prime Angus beef, he added, with cattle on feed facing the consequences of high corn prices, but with good genetics, it is possible.

“I think it is important as people in the cattle business that we begin to look at increasing the marbling in these cattle and make it so we end up with more prime cattle,” Pfeiffer said.

Those purebred seed stock Angus producers who have been able to hold onto their herd so far in the drought, Pfeiffer said, will most likely make it out without having to cull their good cows. Most producers he has spoken with, he added, are only having to sell their older cows.

“Whenever we sell old cows and open cows, that is a good thing because that means we are going to put new genetics in to take their place,” Pfeiffer said. “Genomics has become a really big thing in the Angus business. I mean, we are over a million head that we gnomically tested right now.”

Larger producers, Pfeiffer said, are even beginning to gnomically test their commercial animals.

“We are sorry whenever anybody has to liquidate some or get rid of some, and we have some older producers that are just getting out, but it is always improvement in genetics,” Pfeiffer said. “The other thing we are working on a lot right now is the consumer wants to know where their product comes from, and they also want to know how well it is treated, so we are pushing very hard that all of the registered Angus producers become BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) certified.”

Becoming BQA certified, Pfeiffer said, helps the consumer feel better about purchasing a product when they know it has been treated correctly.

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