For the first time in nearly a decade, ranchers in the heart of cattle country are expanding their herds, betting that a recent break in a multi-year drought will persist, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ranchers’ move is pushing down cattle prices that soared to record highs last year. That could lead to relief at the grocer’s meat case for consumers, though prices for steaks and hamburger meat haven’t fallen yet from record levels.
“Three years ago, we didn’t have enough grass to feed a goat, let alone a cow,” said third-generation rancher Rex McCloy, surveying days-old calves on his sprawling ranch here. Now he and his sons are building up their herd, seeking to capitalize on high cattle prices and lower costs for feed.
Such renewed enthusiasm in the Great Plains helped the U.S. cattle herd expand last year for the first time in eight years, though supplies remain near 2013’s six-decade low.
U.S. prices for cattle and beef surged last year after four years of withering drought decimated herds in the Great Plains. But expectations that inventories will grow are prompting some investors to bet on a sustained period of lower prices for live, slaughter-ready cattle.
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