Industry At A Glance: Beef Cow Slaughter Rate

The current year is on pace to see an 11.4% slaughter rate of the starting cow inventory - the third-highest annual level since 1996, behind only 2011 and 2010 (12.3% and 11.6%, respectively).

Nevil Speer

September 12, 2013

2 Min Read
Industry At A Glance: Beef Cow Slaughter Rate

Beef cow slaughter rate, measured as a percentage of the beginning inventory, plays a huge role in determining the size of the following year’s beginning inventory. Analyzing that data becomes especially important given that USDA’s mid-year cattle inventory report is no longer available due to federal funding shortfalls.

Thus far in 2013, beef cow slaughter through the first half of the year has equaled approximately 1.6 million head. That’s equivalent to 5.45% of  2013’s starting head count. Perhaps more importantly, though, it surpasses the 10-year average slaughter pace from January-June by nearly 2/3 of a percentage point. In other words, we’re starting with a small inventory (29.3 million cows) and eating through it at a faster rate.

Meanwhile, during the past 10 years, the average slaughter rate during the second half of the year increases by nearly a half percentage point compared to the first half of the year. If that relationship holds in 2013, it’s likely that the beef cow slaughter rate will be nearly 6% between July and December.

beef cow slaughter rate

Given these trends, it appears that 2013 is on pace to slaughter about 11.4% of its starting cow inventory - the third-highest annual level since 1996, behind only 2011 and 2010 (12.3% and 11.6%, respectively).

How do you see weather and market signals shaping up in the second half of the year? Is 2013 a year in which the longer-run trends might get displaced? Or is it a year which plays out pretty much as expected? The implications are very important with respect to next year’s starting inventory (more on that next week).

Leave your thoughts below.


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About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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