Flip what you remember about traditional cattle cycles, says Tim Petry, North Dakota State University extension livestock economist.
Cattle prices generally used to be high at the beginning of a new decade and low in the middle. In the future, prices will likely be high in the middle of the decade and low at the beginning of a new decade.
It's all due to the time it takes to increase cow numbers.
"Some people thing that we aren't going to have a cattle cycle anymore," he says. "I guarantee we are going to have a cattle cycle. Until cows have litters and we don't care what the price of beef is, we will have a cattle cycle."
Recent events – high corn prices, drought in the Great Plains where most of the cow herds are located, increased demand for beef and mad cow scares – have stretched out the current cycle.
At the recent NDSU Ag Lenders Outlook conference in Grand Forks Petry said he expects cow-calf producers to significantly save more heifers this fall.
"We'll have more cattle next year," he says.
See his presentation at: www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/lsmkt/docs/CattleOutlookOct07.pdf.