This week’s Industry At A Glance chart reflects relative beef cow slaughter and the industry’s heifer retention rates since 1996, coupled with the annual change in beef cow inventory. Shifts in operational size, marketing opportunities and available resources have clearly influenced the commercial sector during the past 10-15 years. That subsequently influences management priorities, including herd-inventory strategies. The data reveals the overwhelming importance of beef cow slaughter when accounting for decline in the nation’s beef cow population. 

Keeping in mind the disappearance of smaller operators over time, it appears that liquidation has been a fairly deliberate process, driven by a multitude of factors (including weather, producer demographics and financial considerations). Meanwhile, among those operations remaining in business, even if they’ve downsized, heifer retention rate has remained relatively constant; that is, replacement heifer population has remained steady – equivalent to about 18% of the beef cow population.  

cow inventory change

How do you perceive general trends around heifer replacement strategies among cow-calf producers? Is your operation similar to what’s described above, or have you changed your management strategies over time. What are the largest factors influencing those decisions? Leave your thoughts below.