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U.S. cattle inventory 3% larger than a year agoU.S. cattle inventory 3% larger than a year ago

"Cattle" report numbers show larger increases than trade anticipated.

Krissa Welshans 1

February 1, 2016

3 Min Read
U.S. cattle inventory 3% larger than a year ago

As of Jan. 1, there were 92.0 million head of cattle and calves on U.S. farms, according to the “Cattle” report published Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). USDA said this is the highest U.S. cattle inventory since 2011 and 3% above the 89.1 million head on Jan. 1, 2015. The average trade estimates prior to the report showed that the industry expected the all cattle and calves count to be 1.8% higher.

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All cows and heifers that have calved, at 39.6 million head, rose 3% from the 38.6 million head on Jan. 1, 2015. At 30.3 million head, there were 4% more beef cows than a year ago. The industry expected a 3% increase, according to pre-report trade estimates. Milk cows, at 9.32 million head, also slightly increased from the prior year.

All heifers weighing 500 lb. or more as of Jan. 1, 2016, totaled 19.8 million head, a 3% increase from the 19.3 million head on Jan. 1, 2015. The number of beef replacement heifers, at 6.29 million head, was 3% higher than a year ago; the trade had expected a 4.3% increase. There were 2% more milk replacement heifers, at 4.82 million head, than the previous year and 3% more other heifers, at 8.71 million head, versus a year earlier.

All calves in the U.S. weighing under 500 lb. as of Jan. 1, 2016, totaled 14.1 million head, a 4%  increase from 13.5 million head on Jan. 1, 2015. Steers weighing 500 lb.-plus totaled 16.3 million head, also a 4% increase from one year ago. Bulls weighing 500 lb. or more totaled 2.14 million head, a 2% increase from the year prior.

Calf crop increases

The 2015 calf crop in the U.S. was estimated to be 2% higher than the previous year, at 34.3 million head. An estimated 24.8 million head of calves were born during the first half of 2015, a 2% increase from the first half of 2014, and an estimated 9.50 million head of calves were born during the second half of 2015, which was 28% of the total 2015 calf crop, USDA noted.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the U.S. for all feedlots totaled 13.2 million head on Jan. 1, 2016, 1% higher than last year’s total of 13.0 million head. Cattle on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more accounted for 80.2% of total cattle on feed on Jan. 1, 2016, which was 1% lower than last year. The combined total of calves weighing less than 500 lb. and other heifers and steers weighing more than 500 lb. (outside of feedlots) increased 5% from last year to 25.9 million head.

Revisions

All inventory and calf crop estimates for July 1, 2014, and Jan. 1 and July 1, 2015, were reviewed using calf crop, official slaughter, import and export data and the relationship of new survey information versus the prior surveys. Based on these findings, USDA decreased the July 1, 2014, cattle and calves by 0.6% and the 2014 calf crop by 1.1%. USDA also decreased Jan. 1, 2015, cattle and calves by 0.7%, cows and heifers that calved by 1% and cattle and calves by 0.2%.

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