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U.S. cow herd seen down 2%

08/05/2013 @ 12:53pm

Recent estimates made by a consortium of analysts, agricultural economists and cattle-industry participants for the size of the U.S. beef cattle herd as of midyear range from down by nearly 1% to more than 2% below a year ago.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's semiannual cattle inventory report July 1 was among several reports that were canceled due to the federal budget cuts and sequester. Since that report was unavailable, the Livestock Marketing Information Center conducted a cattle inventory survey of its Technical Advisory Committee during its recent annual meeting.

A summary of the survey's results was compiled by Derrell Peel, agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, and LMIC analysts Jim Robb and Katelyn McCullock. The results were released Monday.

"The majority of the group indicated that the beef cow herd was likely down between one and two percent as of July 1," the release said. The survey showed the number of beef cows in the U.S. as of July was projected to be down 2.1% from the same date a year ago. Dairy cow numbers, meanwhile, were estimated at up 0.5%. Overall, no beef heifer retention was seen, but some regions of the country likely had some retention that was offset by further liquidation in others where pasture conditions and hay supplies remain poor.

"Heifer retention may well pick up in the last half of the year. Still, the combined effects of higher beef cow slaughter and decreased heifers entering the herd likely means that the beef cow herd will be down year-over-year on January 1, 2014," the survey results showed.

Estimates made for the number of feeder cattle as of July 1 showed a decline of 2%, factoring in a smaller 2013 calf crop and reduced cattle imports this year. "Renewed heifer retention interest in the last half of this year could squeeze feeder supplies dramatically in 2014," the release said.

Feeder-cattle futures are trading mixed Monday with the spot August contract last trading 0.35 cent a pound higher at $1.54075 and on track to close at its highest level in four months.

Write to Curt Thacker at curt.thacker@dowjones.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 05, 2013 13:42 ET (17:42 GMT)
DJ U.S. Beef-Cow Herd Seen Down About 2% From 2012 as of Midyear->copyright

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