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How fast will the U.S. beef herd expand?

The nation's beef cow herd has started down the path of the largest expansion in 25 years. Ag economist Chris Hurt examines the pace of beef herd expansion.

After 25 years of declining numbers, the pace of the U.S. beef herd is finally on an upward trajectory.

The last major expansion was from 1990 to 1995 when the herd grew by 10%. The industry had started on a modest expansion in 2005 and 2006, but producers aborted that expansion cycle due to the Southern Plains drought and the start of the high feed price era late in 2006.

Now, with pastures and grassland restored for most of the country and the feeling that feed prices will remain moderate, this expansion is off to a fast start.

Beef cow operations began the process of expanding the herd in the last half of 2014. As of July 1, 2015, the number of beef cows in the country was up 2.5%, according to the USDA's producer survey. But a more rapid expansion is likely in the coming year, according to beef replacement heifer numbers.

To read more about expansion predictions, click here.


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