It's no secret; the cattle herd is dwindling, and in recent months it's reached its lowest population since the 1950s.
As a result, ranchers have been setting aside breeding stock, but the rebuilding process will be slow. CattleFax Market Analyst Kevin Good says cow slaughter levels have been on the decline. He predicts they'll slip another 8%-10% in the coming years. However 35% of heifers are currently on feed. Good says that's an indication producers are keeping their cattle back to rebuild the herd, and Good thinks roughly 10,000 head per day will be taken out of the harvest mix, which should result in higher prices for fed cattle.
National Beef announced plans to shutter a California plant and last year Cargill closed a beef harvest facility in Texas. With the herd so small and producers pulling cattle out of harvest, Good says more plant closings are likely in the future.