Shrink is not a small problem in the beef industry. Shrink in beef cattle is the amount of weight lost when moving from one location to another, whether that’s from pasture to working facilities, ranch to feedlot, etc. It can be caused by a number of factors, but when not properly calculated and considered can lead to economic loss for both buyer and seller. For more on how we raise cattle here, visit our website to schedule a tour

Causes of Shrink
When animals are transported or experience conditions outside what they’re used to, they undergo a lot of stress. Just as stress negatively impacts our bodies, it does the same for cattle. Shrink can be caused by a number of individual factors or a combination of several conditions. Some examples include food and water deprivation, high temperature, rough or loud handling, or anything else that can cause stress to the animal.

Conditions that Affect Shrink
Two cows may experience the same stressors, but react differently and end up with more or less shrink than the other. For example, cattle with more body fat tend to shrink less than cattle with more muscle. That’s because fat contains less water than muscles, so when water is lost to dehydration or water deprivation during a move, a more muscular cow will experience more shrink.

Preventing Shrink
While shrink is likely not entirely preventable during a move, there are many ways you can work to reduce the effects and make the experience better for the cattle. Drier diets create less shrink than wetter diets, and very full cattle experience more shrink than cattle that are less full. If a cow shrinks 10 to 12 percent, it has undergone a great amount of stress and should be monitored for sickness and poor performance. For more on cattle diets, visit our blog


Shrink can be stressful for everyone involved, but getting grass-fed beef straight from Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch is simple and easy. To get yours, visit our online form