A dearth of beef alternative heifers

The common worth of 500-pound steers in Oklahoma auctions in July was $283.68/cwt., up 48% over the value of $191.48/cwt. one 12 months in the past. This represents a rise in worth of $461/head from $957/head to $1418/head over the identical time final 12 months. Greater calf costs are the market results of regularly smaller cow herds and declining feeder cattle provides.

USDA’s July “Cattle” report confirmed that cattle inventories are persevering with to lower in 2023. The whole stock of cattle and calves was 95.9 million head, down 6.7% from the latest cyclical peak in 2018, and simply fractionally above the 2014 low. The July 1 beef cow herd was 29.4 million head, down 9.3% from the 2018 peak, and is 1.2% decrease than the 2014 low. The 2023 July beef cow herd is the bottom in the whole knowledge sequence for this report relationship again to 1973. Estimated provides of feeder cattle from this report are 34.4 million head, down 3.6% 12 months over 12 months. The 2023 calf crop is projected at 33.8 million head, down 1.9% 12 months over 12 months and down 2.5 million head from the 2018 peak. Feeder provides will proceed to shrink into 2024 a minimum of.

Quickly rising calf costs in 2023 haven’t but provoked any heifer retention and herd rebuilding. The meat alternative heifer stock was 4.05 million head, down 2.4% from final 12 months and is the bottom ever within the July “Cattle” report. Not solely are alternative heifer inventories low, however the provide of different heifers that might be used for breeding can also be low. It’s typical for some heifers not included in reported alternative heifer inventories to get bred and enter the cow herd. These heifers come out of the “different heifer” class in stock studies. The opposite heifer stock consists of heifers already in feedlots in addition to heifers which can be a part of the estimated feeder provide. 

The July “Cattle” report confirmed a list of different heifers at 7.3 million head, down 5.2% 12 months over 12 months. The July 2023 stock of different heifers is 600,000 head greater than the bottom latest different heifer stock in July of 6.7 million head in 2015. Nevertheless, the July “Cattle on Feed” report pegged the variety of heifers in feedlots at 4.47 million head, unchanged from final 12 months and 1.14 million head greater than the latest 2015 low in heifers on feed. Which means the residual provide of different heifers not already in feedlots (different heifers minus heifers on feed) is estimated at 2.8 million head, the bottom in accessible knowledge again to 1996.

Though the present worth of 500-pound steers is simply 8% under the document Oklahoma worth of $308.69/cwt in December 2014, increased costs are forward. The earlier document excessive calf costs occurred after heifer retention was effectively underway and feeder cattle provides have been squeezed to their tightest ranges. This course of might start in late 2023 however the tightest feeder provides is not going to happen till 2024 on the earliest or probably into 2025. 

With the pipeline of beef alternative heifers and residual different heifers extraordinarily low, heifer retention will doubtless start principally with heifer calves. The stock of calves beneath 500 kilos on July 1 was 26.3 million head, down 2.6% 12 months over 12 months. Assuming that producer curiosity in heifer retention kicks in, the method is prone to be gradual merely due to the restricted provide of heifers for the foreseeable future.  With apologies to Shakespeare…”My kingdom for a heifer.”