The unexpectedly rapid and harsh adjustment in feeder cattle prices in 2016 has raised many questions about the status of herd expansion late in the year and beyond, said Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist.

Beef cow culling has not returned to normal levels and the 2016 beef cow slaughter level is consistent with continued modest herd expansion this year, Peel said.

However, Peel noted, the rate of beef cow slaughter and modest year-over-year increases in feedlot heifer inventories since April do not yet indicate herd liquidation, but may point to little or no additional herd expansion in 2017.

The ratio of steer to heifer slaughter increases during herd expansion and typically peaks and begins declining several...