Cattle surplus hurting Big Country ranchers


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A surplus of cattle is hitting the beef industry much harder than anticipated, causing major packing plants to pay less and less for a rancher’s cattle.

With increasing input costs, such as vehicle and gas prices, ranchers are finding it harder to make ends meet in the cattle business.

Tucker Teague, who helps run his families’ feed lot, says it has a lot to do with everyone wanting to be a cowboy.

“In my opinion, everybody wants to be a rancher. Everybody wants to be a cowboy,” Teague said. “For a lot of people, it’s a tax write off.”

He said the added competition as well as packing plants having a shortage of staff are causing great stress in the cattle industry.

He said with a low kill capacity across the nation, the only solution is to build more packing plants or “guys will have to go broke raising cattle.”

Teague also said that the packing plants are doing what they can and are killing as many cows as possible, but are just too full to lower the population.

Henry Pickett, General Manager of the Abilene Livestock Auction, said that because packing plants are so full of cattle, they have to offer less money per head of cattle.

“An 800 pound steer is probably around $1.40 (per pound),” Pickett said. “And packers, for a 1,350-1,400 pound calf are giving about $1.20.”

The prices are exponentially lower for much more meat.

Teague believes that if the surplus isn’t taken care of, some ranchers are at risk of losing everything.

“The price of cattle is going down or staying the same,” Teague said. “Ranchers can’t continue to sustain themselves in that type of an environment.”

For those interested in learning more about the recent gap in cattle prices, the Taylor County Agrilife Extension is hosting their Big Country Beef and Wildlife Conference from August 19-20. More information and tickets can be found here.

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