Adjusting for this would put the national rate over 11 percent less for the year to date.

For the entire year of 2011, it appears that beef cow slaughter could have decreased roughly 10 percent year over year in the absence of drought, a value that is consistent with herd expansion.

However, the additional 100,000 head of culling already estimated implies that the annual beef cow slaughter rate would be limited to a decrease of 7-8 percent. And that assumes no additional drought-induced culling for the remainder of the year.

The drought is still very much in place and more culling is likely.

Projecting the current rate of slaughter for the southern plains for the rest of 2011 would result in a national beef cow slaughter rate that decreases only by 3 percent.

The resulting drought impacts may have implications on the cow herd for several years.

My early projections showed that it might have been possible to stabilize the beef herd this year, but only under the most favorable circumstances. Even without a drought it was likely the cow herd might decrease another 0.5 to 1 percent in 2011.

Depending on how much additional drought liquidation occurs, beef herd liquidation upwards of 2 percent is increasingly likely. If the drought impacts stop now, the additional cow slaughter that has already occurred would likely result in beef herd liquidation of close to 1.5 percent for the year.

The additional herd liquidation will extend and exaggerate the current reduced animal inventories by at least another year. Herd growth rates will be limited when they finally do start, so it is likely to take at least 4-6 years for any significant herd rebuilding.