The worst drought in Texas history has led to the largest one-year decline in the state's cattle herd. Since the start of the year, the number of cows in Texas has dropped by 600,000, reports the Associated Press, representing a 12 percent decline from the state's roughly 5 million animals.

While many cows were moved to areas where there is grass, many more cattle were slaughtered. David Anderson of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports that Texas and neighboring states saw a 20 percent increase in cattle slaughtered this year. The resulting effects will be a smaller cattle herd for years to come.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that beef prices will increase up to 5.5 in 2012, in part because the number of cattle has declined. That follows a 9 percent increase in beef prices in the past year.

"Consumers are going to pay more because we're going to have less beef," Anderson said. "Fewer cows, calves, less beef production and increasing exports."

Source: Associated Press