As of Sept. 9, cow packing plants in Region 6—Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Mexico—have processed 668,000 beef cows this year, up 31% from last year. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension livestock economist David Anderson said how this compares to 2011 and 2012, when the last major drought in the region occurred, has been of particular interest.
So far in Region 6 this year, Anderson said 8,000 more beef cows have been slaughtered than in 2011. Compared to 2012, 164,900 head more of beef cows have been processed. The 217,000 dairy cows processed this year is also well above the 130,200 head slaughtered in 2011, but close to the 213,800 in 2012, Anderson noted. However, he pointed out that Texas had 200,000 more dairy cows on January 1, 2022, than on January 1, 2011.
The states in Region 6 reported 8.4 million beef cows on January 1, 2022, compared to 8.8 million beef cows on January 1, 2011.
“While cows may come into the region for slaughter, it’s likely that a larger proportion of the herd has been culled this year than in the last major drought,” Anderson explained. Nationally, beef cow slaughter is up 300,000 head this year over 2021, and 263,500 over 2011.
Further, Anderson said significant rainfall in parts of Texas may restrain culling in the near future and has also brought more moderate temperatures, providing another boost.
“Watch national and regional beef cow culling over the next six weeks to better gauge the impact of these storms. Seasonally, the largest cow culling weeks of the year nationally occur in October and November. Rain and earlier heavy culling rates could pull back slaughter and boost prices.”