February 29, 2024



The United States Department of Agriculture reported that the nation’s cattle herd size is the smallest in at least 25 years due to recent drought conditions. The drought has forced ranchers to sell off some of their herd, resulting in a 2% decrease in the cow herd size in 2023. Even though the South Plains is now receiving more moisture, it will take time for the grass to grow and for ranchers to rebuild their herds. Additionally, high interest rates have made it difficult for producers to buy cattle to rebuild their herds.

As ranchers begin to retain more cattle to build their herds, the U.S. beef supply will decline, leading to potentially higher prices for consumers. The president and CEO of Spade Ranches, Wesley Welch, believes it could take up to three more years for the nation’s cattle inventory to start building back up, as long as moisture continues to support grass growth. However, if rain stops in cattle producing areas, it could take even longer for the industry to recover.

Despite the recent moisture on the South Plains, ranchers are still recovering from the effects of drought, with the nation’s cattle herd size declining and the U.S. beef supply expected to decrease in the coming years. This could result in higher prices for consumers, and the rebuilding of the cattle industry may take several more years if moisture continues to support grass growth.



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