Looking back before the droughts of 2011-12, the total US cow herd hovered around 33 million head. After those droughts, though, it dropped dramatically down to about 29 million head by 2014. Since then, the herd has been gradually built back up, now reaching to just over 31 million, and so far, represents a 3 percent growth rate compared to last year’s 4 percent rate. In essence, the beef cow herd in the US continues to grow, but perhaps at a bit slower pace, according to Dr. Derrell Peel of Oklahoma State University.
He said he, “doesn’t see any reason why now to think that we won’t expand this year,” he said. “There’s plenty of heifer out there to continue herd expansion.”
Peel suggests just by looking at recent figures from the latest USDA Cattle on Feed reports, that there are no indicative signs of liquidation just now. So, the question is, how big can we expect the herd to get before it begins to plateau?
“It really depends sort of on what’s to come,” Peel shrugged speculatively. “We’ve been kind of surprised by the strength of demand both domestic and international. If that continues through the year and we continue to see improvements on the demand side, then there’s not really any reason why herd expansion has to stop even going beyond 2017.”