Did you know? Herd rebuilding and the heifer/steer grade difference

Oct 4, 2013
by WLJ

In the cattle business, one question is on everyone’s mind: “When will herd rebuilding start?” The most likely answer is, “Soon.” In last month’s Professional Cattle Consultants NewsLetter, Shawn Walter draws on millions of data points and many years of watching this cyclical business to venture that projection.

Heifers will still make up a large percentage of weekly cattle slaughter this fall, but with improving moisture conditions, some rebuilding will likely start occurring in 2014. Even if we began retaining heifers today, it is logical to expect another decline in cow numbers on the January 1 report. That inventory could dip below 29 million beef cows, chronicling a staggering loss of our mother-cow factories. When moisture and prices provide enough encouragement, however, those heifers will stay home in droves.

Did you know what kind of an impact the resulting shift in heifer/steer ratio will have on the average beef carcass during the rebuilding phase? As you would expect, since heifer carcasses are lighter, reducing their number in the harvest mix means there will be a slight increase in overall carcass weights.

But what many do not realize is how much heifers out-grade steers. Typically, they will produce carcasses that have 9 to 10 percentagepoint higher Choice levels, with Certified Angus Beef acceptance rates 6 to 8 points better.

Bottom line: a 1-point shift in the percentage of heifers in the fed mix correlates to a .1-point change in CAB acceptance rates. — Larry Corah, Vice President, Certified Angus Beef LLC