The first half of 2010 has been a wild ride in the cattle business, but the trend toward higher quality beef continues, according to Paul Dykstra, beef cattle specialist with the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brand. He tracks variations in USDA harvest and grading reports in the weekly e-newsletter column, "Rearview Mirror on Quality."

“Relatively attractive prices for cull cows and bulls beefed up overall supplies since last winter, the number of all cattle harvested being up 1.8% over 2009,” Dykstra says. “That’s ironic, considering the U.S. cowherd is still shrinking at an annual rate of about 2%. It also means we are likely to see fewer of these culls on the market the rest of this year.”

Prospects for a turnaround in herd inventories are dim because the heifer share of federally inspected harvest was up 1.7% in the first half of 2010, compared to 2009.

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