In the next three to five years, the beef herd in the U.S. is expected to expand by three million head, a new Rabobank report says, adding that over that time period and maybe a bit longer, the location of the herd will shift.
The report, from the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, builds on research released in February 2015. It finds the geographic distribution of the U.S. cow-calf herd in the next four to six years will be more concentrated—shifting away from a dispersed population to one that is in areas not typically associated with heavy cow-calf production.
This shift will create opportunity for new winners to emerge, and will challenge historical models of calf production, feeder acquisition, and crop-producing businesses.
Senior Rabobank FAR analysts Sterling Liddell and Don Close authored the report.
"The initial growth phase will be relatively quick, and will flatten out," Close says. He expects the process to happen in two phases: First, the excess capacity in the southwest and high plains will fill out. Once that occurs, populations will increase into the Dakotas and Corn Belt, he says.
"The combination of the repopulation in areas of the Southwest and High Plains to conventional levels, plus the addition of confined and semi-confined cow-calf units in the row crop producing regions of the central U.S. will lead to unified, central states cowherd," Close says.
Liddell believes the addition of the Corn Belt states and Dakotas to the conventional cow-calf areas will bring the U.S. cowherd back to pre-drought levels.
"Once this repopulation is completed, the beef cow herd will have returned to near 2011 levels," Liddell says. "Although it will depend on factors such as exports and weather, I expect a total of 3.5 to 4 million head more than the 2014 low of 29 million beef cows. Of that total, 1.7 million head will come from newly developed capacity in the central U.S. – areas typically focused on row crop production."
Watch the video below for a brief summary of the report.