Group of cattle in a feedlotAttributed to processing plants operating at higher capacity than fed cattle plants, cow and bull slaughter is outpacing 2020 totals. U.S. cow slaughter is 5.2% higher than 2020 (5.03 million head), peaking during the spring and summer months when it was 7.7% higher than 2020 and 3.9% higher than 2019. Analysts have seen this trend continue into the fall and don’t anticipate a slowdown.

The reason behind the increase in productivity? Some believe, including Steiner Group Consulting economist Altin Kalo, it’s tied to higher difficulty with labor challenges for fed cattle plants when compared to cow processors, making it difficult to schedule processing. Interestingly to note, this decline in fed cattle slaughter comes at a time when feedlot supplies are readily available. Read more on processing totals.