You are here: Home Columns Crops Market Advisor Market Advisor: U.S. Cattle Herd Increases Slightly
Document Actions

Market Advisor: U.S. Cattle Herd Increases Slightly

Total cattle numbers in the U.S. were at 97 million head on Jan. 1, slightly above the 96.7 million on Jan 1, 2006.

By Tim Petry, Livestock Marketing Economist NDSU Extension Service

The USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service released the annual cattle report on Feb. 2. The report showed that total cattle numbers in the U.S. were at 97 million head on Jan. 1, slightly above the 96.7 million on Jan 1, 2006.

This marked the third straight year of cyclically increasing numbers, which still may be on track for the six years of buildup in cattle inventory that usually occurs in a typical cattle cycle.

Beef cows and heifers that have calved declined 0.3 percent from 32.99 million head in 2006 to 32.89 million in 2007.

The number of beef cows near last year’s figure confirms that the drought in the southern, central and northern Plains caused beef cow liquidation in those areas. Beef cow slaughter was up about 18 percent for the year and approached 40 percent higher during August, when the drought was at its peak. Beef cow numbers likely would have been up by 1 percent to 1.5 percent in 2007 had normal precipitation occurred in the Plains.

As expected, beef cow numbers declined in the Plains states hardest hit by drought, including Kansas, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota and Texas. Interestingly, beef cow numbers increased 10,000 head in Nebraska and 2,000 head in North Dakota, despite dry conditions in western portions of those states.

The Western states of California, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming recorded increasing beef cow numbers. Several Appalachian, Corn Belt and Southern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, also had larger beef cow herds.

Heifers for beef cow replacement were very close to last year and declined only 27,000 head, or 0.5 percent from 5.90 million head last year to 5.87 million now.

The number of heifers retained near the previous year’s level indicates that there still was interest in cyclical beef herd rebuilding. Weather again will be an important factor for 2007, but the significant precipitation that the central and southern Plains have been receiving in the form of winter storms bodes well for green grass this spring.

Not only did North Dakota and Nebraska have higher beef cow numbers, they also showed significant increases in beef cow replacements, with North Dakota up 45,000 head (29 percent) and Nebraska up 35,000 head (12 percent) over last year’s levels.

From a supply standpoint, the 2007 calf crop likely will be very close to the last two years. The 2006 calf crop was reported at 35.57 million head, with the 2005 crop at 37.58 million. The number of feeder cattle available to feedlots in 2007 should be about the same as last year, but depends on how many heifers are retained for breeding. Heifer retention will be influenced by weather conditions and how cattle producers respond to the declines in feeder cattle prices due to sharply higher corn prices the last several months.

If weights of fed cattle moderate due to high feed costs, beef production also will be similar to last year. That, along with potentially increasing beef export volumes and moderating pork and chicken production, should support fed cattle prices near last year’s levels.

So, with feeder cattle numbers and fed steer prices near last year’s levels, corn prices remain the wild card in 2007 feeder cattle prices.

U.S. milk cow numbers increased almost 1 percent from 9.06 million head in 2006 to 9.13 million in 2007.

The Southwestern and Western states that have seen increasing milk cow herds for several years continued that trend. Herds increased in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and Texas. Numbers also increased in the Corn Belt states of Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

California has the largest number of milk cows at 1.79 million head, followed by Wisconsin at 1.25 million head.

Several New England states, a traditionally important dairy region, lost milk cow numbers. North Dakota milk cow numbers declined about 6 percent from 33,000 to 31,000 head.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Tim Petry, (701) 231-7469,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
Renewable Accounts: Renewable Accounts: E15 fuel could help you, the environment and N.D. farmers  (2019-06-06)  The EPA now allows E15 fuel to be sold year-round.  FULL STORY
Prairie Fare: Prairie Fare: Enjoy Lounging Outdoors With a Refreshing Beverage  (2019-06-13)  If plain water is kind of boring, try infusing it with fruit and/or herbs.  FULL STORY
Use of Releases
The news media and others may use these news releases in their entirety. If the articles are edited, the sources and NDSU must be given credit.

Powered by Plone, the Open Source Content Management System