The Woodward News

February 14, 2013

Cattle inventory down 7 percent

Chris Cooper
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Oklahoma's cattle and calf inventory is down roughly 7 percent from January of 2012 according to the US Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) report.

Oklahoma's current cattle and calf inventory is currently at 4.20 million head, which is down roughly 300,000 since January of last year according to the Oklahoma Cattle Report recently released.

USDA-NASS Director Wilbert Hundl Jr. said, "When you're looking at it from year to year difference, thats a fairly significant amount, but looking at the whole picture, we typically have about 5.2 million, so over a 4 or 5 year history we're down really significantly."

Hundl said cattle inventory in Oklahoma is down it's lowest since 1964.

According to the survey, in January, cows and heifers that had calved were down 2 percent, steers over 500 pounds were down 5 percent, the calf crop was down 10 percent, and heifers over 500 pounds were down a staggering 14 percent from last year.

The drop in cattle may not be restricted to Oklahoma however, as steers, other heifers, and calves grazing on small grain pasture throughout the 3-state area of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas are down 16 percent.

When asked about the drop in cattle and the effect on Oklahoma's cattle market, Hundl said, "In 2010 we had an inventory of 5.5 million head, so in 2012 with 4.5 million we were down a million, and now we're down another 300,000 head on top of that. So we're losing out on income potential for not having enough cattle that can produce a common inventory or produce calves or feeder animals or so on so forth."

Hundl admitted that the drop in cattle may partially be attributed to the drought that continues to plague Oklahoma.

"When there's no water in the pond or forage to graze, something has to be done. And with the cost of feed grain and hay, a rancher has to choose between how much they can cut back on animals versus how much they can afford to feed them," he said.