The US cattle herd is forecast to have contracted 2% by the close of 2012, to around 89 million head, according to US Livestock Market Information Centre (LMIC) estimates.
The US beef cow herd is estimated to be approximately 29.4 million head at the end of 2012, representing a 500,000 head (1.6%) decline over the course of the year.
Reflecting the deteriorating cow herd and challenging environmental conditions is an expected 800,000 head (2.4%) decline in the 2012 calf crop.
LMIC are also predicting 2012 beef cow slaughter to be 460,000 head less than last year, despite slaughter expected to increase seasonally in the fourth quarter.
Nevertheless, as a percentage of the 1 January 2012 beef cow inventory, estimated slaughter is 11%, compared to 12% in 2011.
According to LMIC, rarely does the beef herd increase when the annual beef cow slaughter is above 10% of the beginning inventory, with year-on-year herd increases typically only occurring when beef cow slaughter is below 9%,.
Replacement heifers entering the US cow herd in 2012 are anticipated to remain flat. The number of heifers on feed and in the slaughter mix over the coming months will be watched very closely, as this will largely impact herd rebuilding rates.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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