USDA releases cattle inventory numbers; calf crop smallest since 1950 tally

Source: USDA NASS

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released their cattle inventory numbers and values of all cattle and calves, number of operations and size group estimates Friday afternoon. Report numbers reveal that the inventory of all cattle and calves in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2012, totaled 90.8 million head, a drop of 2 percent below the 92.7 million total on Jan. 1, 2011. This is the lowest Jan. 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since the 88.1 million on hand in 1952. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 39.1 million, were down 2 percent from 40.0 million on Jan. 1, 2011.

Beef cows, at 29.9 million, were down 3 percent from Jan. 1, 2011, numbers. The 2011 calf crop was estimated at 35.3 million head, down 1 percent from 2010. This is the smallest calf crop since the 34.9 million born during 1950. Calves born during the first half of 2011 are estimated at 25.7 million, down 1 percent from 2010.

State numbers

  • Oklahoma is down by 12 percent on all cattle and calves since numbers reported in January 2011.
  • Texas is down by 11 percent on all cattle and calves since numbers reported in January 2011.
  • In the number of beef cow replacements (heifers at 500 pounds or more) since January a year ago, Oklahoma is down 15 percent. Texas is down 10 percent.
  • In calves under 500 pounds, Oklahoma is down 14 percent from last year at this time, while Texas is down 15 percent.  A year ago, in January 2011, the calf crop total from the year before, in January 2010, was down 3 percent in both Oklahoma and Texas.
  • The number of cows that have calved in Texas is down from 2011 numbers by 12 percent. Oklahoma is down in the same category by 14 percent.

Click here to go to the USDA-NASS webpage for the cattle report to download the entire report, available in the following file formats: text, pdf and zip.

Some cattle ranchers worry about proposed ear tag rules

The New York Times spoke with TSCRA member Dan Gattis, as well as representatives and leaders of the association, about proposed rules that would require ear tag identification for adult cattle moving across state lines. But not all ranchers are fully on-board with the proposed rule. Many, including TSCRA, would like to see brands allowed as an official – and more permanent – method of identification, along with the tags. The proposed rule would not prohibit the use of brands, but they are not classified as “official” by USDA. They also have other concerns about the ear tag rule, including possible increased costs for producers and how the program will integrate with other state and federal ID. In Texas, a proposal discussed this week by the Texas Animal Health Commission would require adult cattle 18 months or older to have ear tags whenever their ownership changes. Read the story at NYTimes.com…

TCEQ eases some restrictions on water rights

Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Conditions have improved to the point where the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) notified Brazos River Basin junior water-right holders and more than 160 Neches River Basin junior water-right holders that their right to divert water is no longer suspended.

In the spring and summer of 2011 the TCEQ responded to a senior priority call in the Brazos River Basin by notifying junior water-right holders with a priority date of 1960 or later that their right to divert was suspended. The senior priority call has now been rescinded, and water right holders can divert water again.

In November 2011, TCEQ also responded to a senior priority call in the Neches River Basin by notifying junior water-right holders with a priority date of Aug. 13, 1913, or later that their right to divert was suspended. The senior priority call has now been amended, and many of the previously suspended water right holders can divert water again. While conditions are better, some non-municipal junior water rights, term, and temporary water-right permits in the Neches River Basin are still suspended.

In order to protect public health and welfare, water rights with municipal uses or for power generation have not been suspended. Land owners with property adjacent to watercourses in the Neches River Basin may also continue to divert water for domestic and livestock use as part of their inherent riparian rights.

The TCEQ continues to monitor the situation closely and strives to balance protection of senior and superior surface water rights while attempting to minimize the impact to junior water right holders, within TCEQ’s authority.

Please note that should another priority call be made or should drought conditions persist or worsen, suspensions of junior water rights may again be necessary.

These actions are guided by the priority doctrine in Texas law. The most senior water rights are served first during times of drought with domestic and livestock uses superior to any appropriated rights. Water rights are suspended or curtailed by priority date, with the most recently issued—or “junior”—priority users suspended before senior water rights in the area.

Drought conditions continue to be widespread across the state. The TCEQ has asked that all Brazos River and Neches River water-right holders take steps to conserve water, implement their drought contingency plans, and prepare for additional suspensions or curtailments should drought conditions persist.

Water is a precious resource—all Texans are encouraged to conserve, especially during times of drought.

TSCRA Crime Watch: Gooseneck trailer stolen from Gonzales property

TSCRA Special Ranger Gary Baros, Dist. 25 in South Texas, reports the theft on Dec. 12 of a gooseneck trailer from E Bar Feeds in Gonzales. The trailer is a yellow 6-bale in-line round bale hay trailer made by Hay King, Texas farm license plate number DZK B09, VIN number 1K9GH4528BT304081.

If you have any information on this theft, please call Ranger Baros at 361-293-7549.

U.S. Drought Monitor and Summary, Jan. 24, 2012

Click to go to the drought monitor webpage.

Despite dry, warmer-than-normal weather, with temperatures averaging up to 14°F above normal, little, if any, change was made to the drought designation from Texas northward into southern Kansas. Locally heavy rain has been falling over the region since the data cutoff time on Tuesday for this week’s drought depiction; impacts from the rain will be addressed in next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor. A small increase in the Abnormally Dry area was made in northeastern Oklahoma to reflect 60-day precipitation deficits up to 3 inches. Continue reading U.S. Drought Monitor and Summary, Jan. 24, 2012