Industry At A Glance: Declining Beef & Dairy Cow Slaughter

Declining beef cow slaughter provides clues to herd expansion.

Nevil Speer

August 13, 2014

2 Min Read
Industry At A Glance: Declining Beef & Dairy Cow Slaughter

An earlier Industry At A Glance chart highlighted the sharp decline in beef cow slaughter that followed the peak in 2011. The primary question around those data was whether beef producers were beginning to possess more risk appetite and had initiated herd expansion.

Meanwhile, however, dairy cow slaughter has also declined over the same time period. The combined monthly slaughter of beef and dairy cows peaked in November 2011 at 613,000 head – beef cows represented 360,000 head (or about 59% of the total). Fast-forward to June 2014, and the combined beef and dairy cow slaughter equaled only 411,000 head, with beef cows representing 211,000 head or about 51% of the total. Thus, combined monthly cow slaughter has declined by about a third since the November 2011 monthly peak.

Clearly, beef cow slaughter is waning – not only in absolute terms but also in the total cow slaughter mix. Simultaneously, though, dairy cow slaughter is also declining, as higher milk prices and declining feed costs have introduced new culling strategies within the dairy sector.

monthly beef and dairy cow slaughter

In combination, this possesses some large implications for both sectors. Most notably, the trend explains a substantial portion in the overall decline in beef production. Those dynamics are especially important to businesses specializing in bull and cow slaughter and possess a significant influence on the lean trimmings market.

Weather and/or any significant shift in market prices could disrupt these trends. However, they appear to be fairly well entrenched. Where do you see cow slaughter stabilizing in both the beef and dairy sectors? How much higher do cull prices need to be to entice producers to reverse the trend? Leave your thoughts below.

Nevil Speer serves as a private industry consultant. He is based in Bowling Green, KY, and can be reached at [email protected]


Other stories you may enjoy:

6 Pasture Weed Control Tips For The Fall

7 U.S. Ranching Operations Honored For Top Stewardship

10 Utility Tractors For 2014 That Offer More Power & Comfort

Is Ranch Life A Form Of Child Abuse? A Farm Girl Responds

Fencing? Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes

Cows Out On Pasture | 80+ Grazing Photos From Readers

Showing Cattle Is More Than Ribbons And Banner

Why Ranchers Should Care About The Documentary "Cowspiracy"

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].

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
BEEF Magazine is the source for beef production, management and market news.

You May Also Like