The cattle cycle refers to a cyclical process where the size of cattle herd increases and decreases over time due to the biological constraints that delay cow-calf producers from responding to perceived changes in the profitability of cattle production. Thus, the total number of beef cattle in the United States is highly dependent on the stage in that cycle. In general, the cattle cycle is determined by the combined effects of cattle prices; the gestation period (the longest of all meat animals); the time needed for raising calves to market weight; and climatic conditions. If prices are expected to be high, producers slowly build up their herd sizes; if prices are expected to be low, producers reduce their herds by culling older cows and keeping fewer heifers to replace older cows or add to their herd. The cattle cycle averages 8-12 years in duration, but persistent dry conditions on pastures and harvested forage supplies can shorten or extend cycles.
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RDF/XMLCreated 2019-10-10, last modified 2019-12-16