Less land, fewer cows?

Livestock Outlook: Stiff competition for land may curtail future growth of the Iowa beef cow herd. Some contraction may lie ahead.

 

Lee Schulz, WallacesFarmer

Jun 16, 2022

 

USDA’s Cattle Inventory report showed Iowa’s cattle herd grew more than 4% in 2021. Iowa bucked the national trend. The U.S. all cattle and calves inventory shrank 2%.

 

Iowa’s inventory of beef cows, milk cows, bulls, replacement heifers, and other steers and heifers on Jan. 1 totaled 3.85 million head. That was up 150,000 head from Jan. 1, 2021.

 

A 65,000-head surge in Iowa beef cows drove the total Iowa inventory higher. Iowa boasts 3.1% of the nation’s beef cows. This is up from 2.8% a year earlier.

 

Expansion drivers

 

Producers have many ways to boost beef cow numbers. Some are retaining additional heifers from within the herd, culling fewer cows than they usually do, and buying breeding stock. Producers can grow herds faster by buying bred females. With this, some relocation of beef cows can occur.

 

Deciding whether to expand cow herds is more challenging and more complicated. A few considerations include availability of pasture and price of feedstuffs, land values and rental rates, expected cattle prices, herd productivity and personal reasons. Some of these take more precedent than others in some places and in some years. The old adage of “Ya gotta feed ’em to breed ’em” rings true.

 

Predicting aggregate cattle inventory numbers and potential price changes is complex. Many micro-decisions by many individual producers result in aggregate impacts.

 

Iowa ducks drought impact ...

 

Multiple sources of growth ...

 

Competition for grazing could rise ...

 

Cattle inventory trends within Iowa ...

 

Huge economic impact ...

 

USDA protects confidentiality ...

 

more, including links 

https://www.farmprogress.com/livestock/less-land-fewer-cows