Heavy cattle: Sorting opportunities and challenges

Farm Forum

Everyone in the beef chain seems to agree we need more of it.

That’s the simple explanation for a trend that shows hot carcass weights (HCW) have increased 200 pounds (lb.) in four decades. But for all the opportunities that presents, there are many challenges.

John Stika, president of Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), talked about both at last month’s Harlan Ritchie Beef Symposium during Midwest American Society of Animal Science meetings in Des Moines, Iowa.

“The production side is looking for something bigger to cover their increased costs,” he said, “but the retail and foodservice sides are looking for [more units of] something much smaller that’s easier to manage from a portion-control standpoint and a unit-cost standpoint.”

Increasing HCW is like adding many more finished cattle. Stika noted Cattle-Fax estimates show such increases from last November into March have made up for 256,000 head of cattle.

As the nation’s cowherd keeps falling back, increasing HCW is good news overall for beef marketers.