David Weaber Advises Ranchers to Capitalize on Quality Genetics in Rebuilding Their Cow Herds to Maximize Profits

Listen to Ron Hays talk with David Weaber about rebuilding the nation’s cowherd.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is visiting with senior animal protein research analyst at Terrain, David Weaber, about strategy for rebuilding the cow herd once the drought comes to an end.

Launched in November of 2022, Terrain is a source of agricultural industry analysis farmers and ranchers in the United States. Terrain was established by American AgCredit, Farm Credit Services of America and Frontier Farm Credit.

“We have been waiting a long time to get rid of La Niña, and it looks like she is finally maybe on her way out the door,” Weaber said. “That is great news for cow-calf producers that have been under this pressure from drought conditions for the last, some of them, three or four years.”

That loss of cattle, Weaber said, has been reflected in the cattle inventory report. Around 2.8 million beef cows have been subtracted from the herd, Weaber added, since 2019.

“We had record beef production in 2022, but that is because we have been pushing all these heifers off ranches and not retaining them, and they are showing up going through feed yards,” Weaber said. “We get a little bit of rain, and we are going to pull those out. They are going to go back to the beef cow herd.”

One of the great things that came out of the pandemic, Weaber said, is that American consumers learned how to cook the upper two-thirds choice and prime steaks at home.

“We see that in the spreads for the value of those carcasses today and there is room for more of those to come through the system, so we are thinking about cow-calf producers, stocker operators, even feed yards- how to get them set up for this next part of the cattle cycle,” Weaber said. “If you are a cow-calf guy, and you are going to rebuild, what are you going to do it with? Figure out what cows you got, what program to be part of, and we have got some time.”

As producers begin to rebuild their cow herds, Weaber said it is important to be mindful, and have a good strategy.

“Single trait selection gives us single trait results,” Weaber said. “We can’t lose sight of the other things that are important.”

Areas to consider such as growth, milk production, maternal feed efficiency and feed efficiency in the feed yards, Weaber said, are still driving economic factors that cannot be overlooked.

“The number one biggest driver of profitability outside of purchase price is feed efficiency,” Weaber said. “We can’t give that up in the process.”

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