Cattle herd dwindling; trade slows
Of particular concern for consumers is the extent of the slaughter. Squeezed by a drought in the Great Plains and high feed costs, ranchers have sold tens of thousands of heifers. Typically, they would hold on to heifers--instead of sending them to feedlots to get fattened--in order to breed a new generation of cattle.
While "cow" is the word generally used to describe these bovines, in industry parlance it specifically refers to a female that has already given birth. Heifers have not.
Cash Cattle Markets Quiet
Cash cattle markets will be quiet following Friday's trading activity at lower prices than a week earlier. Trade last week in Nebraska, Texas and Kansas happened at mostly $1.17/lb live with very few dressed sales reported in Nebraska.
Dealers preparing for an unpredictable week after owners held onto lots of cattle -- leaving them more to sell in later weeks -- and buying interest from meat packers dropped noticeably, in part because their profit margins have shriveled under higher costs and sideways beef prices.
-By Marshall Eckblad, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-303-0544; firstname.lastname@example.org
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September 19, 2011 10:05 ET (14:05 GMT)