A while ago, Drovers magazine asked readers to complete a survey to see what the pulse of beef producers were in 2023. The results of the survey were published with the title “State of the Beef Industry 2023.”
Drovers is a well-informed and credible magazine – an especially good read for those in the beef business, since they are a great source of current information.
Of those who responded to the survey, weaned calves made up 75 percent or more of their income and 40 percent said cattle were the primary source of income for their business. These figures represent our region pretty well.
Some interesting facts from the survey include 65 percent of respondents stating they are optimistic about the future; 57 percent reported profitability in the past five years; 54 percent noted they will add another member to their operation in the next five years and 38 percent said they plan to grow their herd size over the next five years.
When asked which of the following best described their cattle operation, 72 percent said they had commercial cattle, eight percent had a seedstock herd and 20 percent had a mixture of seedstock and commercial herds.
The survey asked those responding to read the following statement, “Due to the drought, I seriously considered exiting the cattle business. Do you agree or disagree?”
Three percent said they strongly agreed, 10 percent agreed, 22 percent neither agreed or
disagreed, 28 percent disagreed and 38 percent strongly disagreed.
Next, the summary asked, “Of the 44 percent who reported reducing their breeding herd because of drought, when do you anticipate taking restocking measures?”
Thirty four percent said this year, 20 percent said next year, 32 percent said in two plus years and 14 percent said they would not restock.
While these percentages would be different in our region with all of the moisture we’ve received in the last year, readers should remember this was a national survey, and a number of cattle producers are still in a terrible drought.
In our region, we have seen older ranchers selling all of their cattle due to the extreme weather we had last winter and the higher prices they can receive currently for their cattle. We are seeing numbers of this happening like never before.
The survey asked, “Considering your individual cattle operation, over the next five years, do you anticipate your cattle operation’s herd size will grow, shrink or stay the same?”
Thirteen percent said their numbers of cattle would shrink, 38 percent said their numbers would grow and 49 percent said they would stay the same.
The survey asked, “Do you expect a family member of partner to join your business?”
Three percent said yes to adding a partner outside of the family, 46 percent said no one would join their business and 51 percent said yes to adding a family member.
We hope this optimism will continue in ranching and in all of agriculture, and we hope more young people will either stay or join others in the cattle and sheep business. In the cattle and sheep business, higher prices are now reflecting what these animals are worth.
The beef and lamb products we see today are better products for consumers because of advancements in genetics and animal welfare. Sustainability is not just a word, it is a common practice and a management tool.
Dennis Sun is the publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 800-867-1964.