The U.S. cow herd is small right now because of the extended drought that’s plagued large swathes of the country. But though dry conditions have driven ranchers to sell off animals they would have otherwise kept, the decreasing size of the national herd is a trend decades in the making. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports on how livestock producers in Wyoming are turning out more meat with fewer animals.
The number of cattle nationwide is at its lowest since the 1950s. Wyoming’s population is just under 1.3 million, down 5% from last year and the lowest since the early 1990s. Drought has caused many ranchers in the state to sell off cattle.
Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Jim Magagna, says some older ranchers with smaller operations liquidated their herds altogether and he predicts those cattle will not be replaced for close to a decade.