El Niño May Assist in Herd Rebuilding Next Fall

The impact of the October Cattle on Feed report remains a big topic of discussion for the livestock industry. Cattle on feed totaled 11.6 million head on October first, one percent above 2022. Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist Dr. Derrell Peel shares more and explains what to look for in the next report.

“The supply of cattle didn’t change as a result of this report. You really need to look into sort of where did those cattle come from that we placed unexpectedly. It is really two things, I think. Some of those things were probably drought-related movement of cattle that maybe marketed in September when they normally would have marketed in October and November, so there will be an offset there, to some extent. The other bigger part of it is really in that October report in terms of the heifer on feed number. And the number of heifers in the feedlot was actually at the highest level for October in the current Cattle on Feed data series, back to 1996.”

Many are looking for signals of herd rebuilding, however, one of the reasons there has not been much indication of that, Peel says, is because of the uncertainty relative to drought and forage conditions.

“If the meteorologists are right with the El Niño pattern, it looks like this is maybe the beginning of that from the way I understand it, we are going to have kind of a wet winter, maybe colder than usual. Wetter in the Southern Plains and maybe not so much in the Midwest. But all of that suggests that we probably set up the idea for substantially better forage conditions next year, certainly for the first half of next year. And if that happens then I do think we will begin to see more indications of heifer retention and herd rebuilding as we get into 2024.”

USDA will release the next Cattle on Feed report November 17.