Meat Market: Texas Cattle Industry Recovering From Winter Storms

No part of Texas was spared from last month's historic winter storms and freezing temperatures, and that includes the cattle industry. A new report from Texas A&M's Agrilife Extension details the impact of the storms on Texas cattle, with the state suffering an estimated $228 million in livestock losses. Cattle processing also plummeted the week of the storms, but began to rebound the following week as temperatures returned to normal.

In addition to the many cattle lost, those that survived had to use more energy to stay warm, and that impacts their size and quality. "After the freeze, the animals weighed quite a bit less than they would on a normal cycle," says Ron Gill, Ph.D., Agrilife Extension beef cattle specialist. "That means less beef moving forward out of that phase, which will suppress the supply just a little bit."

"But it will be a short-term deal, because everything is back up to normal levels right now in the processing chain," he continues.

There are other storm-related factors weighing on the cattle supply that will take longer to determine. "How many cows did not produce a calf this year," says Gill. "And there could be some lingering effects on those that are born---they may have some health issues. That all translates into less beef on the market at some point."

Aside from possible pricing issues, the industry is still in much better shape than last year, when COVID-19 outbreaks at meat packing plants caused shortages and purchasing limits. "I think this will be more of a short-term impact than a long-term impact on the beef industry," says Gill. "And I don't think our customers will see a major difference at the supermarket."

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