Even more telling in the tale of the two extremes is cull-cow numbers (Figures 5 & Figure 6). When ranchers in the drought states were asked if they liquidated cows due to drought, 66.9% answered yes, while 33.1% said no. When asked how many they sold, ranchers indicated they culled deeply. The biggest percentage (27.2%) came in the 11-20% range. And, nearly 20% said they culled 50% or more of their cows this year due to drought (Figure 7).

Moreover, it appears most of those culls went to slaughter. Of the southern ranchers culling cows due to drought, 86% said they neither retained ownership nor relocated their cows. Only 14% said they tried to hold their genetics intact by finding greener grass behind somebody else’s fence. Of those who indicated they relocated some cows, more than 20% said they relocated half or more of their cows, while 29.2% reported relocating 21-30% of their cows to new pastures.

On the other hand, ranchers surveyed in the North indicated that herd expansion is underway in the region. Nearly 34% of respondents reported expanding their cowherd, while 66.2% said they didn’t. Of those expanding, 32% grew their herd by 6-10%; while another 28% expanded by 5% or less (Figure 8).

Interestingly, only 4% indicated their herd expansion included cows from the drought-stricken areas of the country (Figure 9) and only 1.4% indicated they are managing cows for others forced by drought to relocate cattle.