Texas Side of Things
August 18, 2023
Last week I attended my favorite annual cattle event, the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course (BCSC). It’s always good to go back to College Station and see all the new facilities under construction and to see and learn about the most up-to-date information concerning the cattle industry. Once again, my hat goes off to Dr. Jason Cleere and his wonderful staff that coordinates this remarkable event. I am very proud that Texas A&M is still the center of agriculture for the state of Texas. It was reported that over 2,003 beef loving participants attended this year’s event with another 180 virtual attendees. For me, I enjoy seeing the enthusiasm on the faces of new landowners as they wander around absorbing as much information as they can. It reminds me of a student entering school at the beginning of a new year, eager to learn as much as they can about their new property and experience ranching for the first time.
Many of those who attend come to the BCSC to learn the latest about forage management, animal breeding, animal selection, nutrition, hay production and so much more. Others are there to earn their CEU’s and learn the latest advice about products and services that modern agriculture continues to produce. But many seasoned cowmen simply come just to hear the latest predictions for the cattle market and the weather forecast for the upcoming year. This information is usually presented on the opening day of the BCSC in a large auditorium that can hold all the participants and the invited speakers give us their opinions of what they think will happen.
The first speaker was Dr. David Anderson, professor and Extension economist of Livestock and Food Products Marketing, Dairy Policy for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Dr. Anderson reported that cattle prices are very strong right now and will probably stay that way for the next two years. We all know that, but what he reported was that he thinks the prices in 2024 could be higher than they are in 2023. He is expecting very little heifer retention in 2023 because of the higher prices that cattlemen are receiving for their calves. Falling feed prices and a continued strong demand for beef has pushed calf prices to new highs and he feels that producers will sell off their replacements to recoup losses from previous years thus keeping the U.S. cowherd low. Dr. Anderson’s predictions are based on Cattle on Feed Reports that indicate fewer steers are on feed compared to the same quarter as last year but the number of heifers on feed is equal to the same quarter last year. He believes that heifers are not being retained for breeding purposes which will keep our cow herd inventory in check.
Please keep in mind that things can change…as we’ve seen before. The U.S. government can negotiate a huge sell-off of corn to a foreign country or maybe implement a new ethanol program to alleviate this huge, bumper crop of corn that is being produced. That’s what they did in 2007 to help the farmers, but will they do it again?
The next speaker was meteorologist, Matt Makens speaking about the El Niño phase that we are currently encountering. Makens works for NCBA and CattleFax along with other businesses forecasting long-range weather. Basically, he said we are in an El Niño weather pattern which he believes will get stronger and more significant this winter and spring. He also believes that we will see significant rainfall in Texas that won’t happen until November, but to expect a wetter than normal winter.
Well, that kind of sums it up. I’m sure not qualified to spit out a bunch of numbers and information that I really don’t understand but let me assure you that if you own some cows right now…I think you are in great shape to make some money. I think the rest of 2023 and all of 2024 will to be very profitable for the cow/calf producer and I encourage you to continue the course and make sensible decisions about how you want to increase your cow herd and what kind of quality are you willing to live with.