LUBBOCK, Texas – The recent drought and inflation has been hitting cattle ranchers hard in 2022. Ranchers had to make the difficult decision to sell their cattle to combat the lack of grass for cattle to graze and the rising costs of feed due to inflation. 

This issue impacted local businesses and is expected to impact consumers too. 

“This has been a strange year. Of my four main suppliers, it seems like every week one of them is out of something I buy,” said Brent Simpson, Director of Operations at Llano Estacado Cattle. 

Cattle that are solely used for reproduction are being sold to the market at an increased rate. 

“When those cattle go, when they’re fed out and show up here and sold as meat, those are cattle that will not be producing a calf for the next two or five or seven or ten years,” said Simpson.

Dr. Chance Brooks, Professor at Texas Tech department of Animal & Food Sciences said the lack of cattle to reproduce can cause a ripple effect for consumers for up to two to three years. 

“A female has to mature and then become old enough to reproduce and then once they are bred, then there is a long gestation period of nine months and then once that animal is born, there’s even a longer period of time when that animal is basically fed for harvest,” said Dr. Brooks, “So if you start from the beginning and work your way through that continuum, it can be two to three years.”

Simpson said his business already started to see the impacts with price increases in the meat he buys and the lack of supplies available, “We could be at some historic lows of cattle that we haven’t seen since the 70s.”

Dr. Brooks said consumers can expect to see an increase in prices within the next few months and says it can cause a lasting effect for up to a year.  

“What happens is that when supply is limited and prices go up, consumers begin to shift their demand to cheaper alternative foods, alternative proteins. We’re starting to see the wholesale market process change because supplies are already getting tight,” said Dr. Brooks. 

Simpson says the best thing to do is to support local businesses during this time. 

You can visit Llano Estacado Cattle’s website here.