Brazil breeders retain female cows, herd grows for first time in three years

Reuters – The size of the cattle herd in Brazil, the world’s largest beef exporter, grew for the first time in three years in 2019, according to data released Oct. 15 by the government’s bureau of statistics IBGE.

The country’s herd totalled 214.7 million head in 2019, a 0.4 per cent rise from 2018, driven by a retention of female cows for breeding and a 5.1 per cent growth of the herd in Mato Grosso state, IBGE said. In 2018 and 2017, herd size had declined

Mato Grosso, where most of Brazil’s grains and livestock are produced, accounted for nearly 15 per cent of Brazil’s cattle herd.

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“In 2019, we observed a drop in the participation of female cows in slaughtering, suggesting a transition from the low cattle cycle to the high cycle, which is when the producer starts to retain females due to good market prices,” said IBGE’s livestock research supervisor Mariana Oliveira.

She noted 2019 was marked by record beef exports, especially to China.

Looking ahead, it remains to be seen whether rains will benefit pastures in the centre-west regions of Brazil, which account for about 40 per cent of cattle production, according to the USDA.

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