It is a hot topic of discussion in the U.S. cattle industry: How can operations increase or even maintain beef production if the cowherd continues to shrink?

“I suspect that carcass weights will show little or no upward trend in the next decade compared to the last 20 years,” says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist. “Thus, much of the compensation for a declining inventory that was offset by increasing carcass weights in the past will not be available going forward.”

However, a number of factors will affect the ability or inability of the U.S. beef industry to continue current levels of production without rebuilding the herd, which may be getting lost in some of the conversations, even among expert analysts.

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