Q: With calf and feeder prices so high, why aren’t producers expanding their cow herds?
A: The turnaround has been slow, but USDA’s January 1, 2012 Cattle report, released on January 27, shows U.S. heifer retention up 1 percent from a year ago. The ongoing drought clearly has caused continuing liquidation in the South, while ranchers in other areas have begun to rebuild. The report shows, for example, that Oklahoma replacement heifers are down by 15 percent from a year ago as of January 1, and the Texas figure is down by 10 percent. In contrast, beef replacement heifers are up by 29 percent in Colorado, 17 percent in Iowa, 18 percent in Nebraska, 14 percent in South Dakota and 18 percent in Wyoming.