USDA Cattle Inventory Report Reflects Smallest U.S. Cattle Total Inventory Since 1951

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Derrell Peel about the latest USDA Cattle Inventory Report.

At the 2024 CattleCon held in Orlando, Florida, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, had the chance to catch up with Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist Dr. Derrell Peel, and discuss the latest USDA Cattle Inventory Report released January 31, 2024.

Our coverage from the 2024 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Orlando is being powered by Farm Data Services of Stillwater.

The USDA Cattle Inventory Report is a semi-annual report released in July and January each year.

“The January one is the only one that has all the state numbers in it, too,” Peel said. “This is the biggest batch of data we get for the cattle industry all year.”

Included in the state data are the top Beef Cow states- Texas is number one with 4.115 million head, down 4% from last January; Oklahoma is second with 1.922 million head- down 3% percent; Missouri is third with 1.84 million head, down 6%; Nebraska is fourth with 1.637 million head and South Dakota has the fifth most beef cows with 1.502 million head- down by two percent.

In broad terms, Peel said the report came out near expectations. All cattle numbers are down across the board, Peel said, and USDA did make some significant revisions to some of last year’s numbers.

“Bottom line is, we are still getting smaller,” Peel said. “That is the take-home message here in the cattle industry.”

In the report, Peel said beef replacement heifers were down 1.4 percent, and beef cow numbers were down 2.5 percent from last year. Peel said there is certainly no potential for growth with this type of heifer pipeline.

“We have less cattle and less heifers to start with,” Peel said.

Looking into the chances of rebuilding any time soon, Peel said this liquidation is going to be a slow, lengthy process to build back from, but he expects producers to start making attempts at retaining heifers this year.

“I will have to go back and verify it for sure, but I think it makes it the smallest U.S. beef cow herd since 1961, which is only one year earlier than last year’s number,” Peel said.

Peel said the all-cattle inventory, at 87.15 million head, is the smallest U.S. total cattle inventory since 1951.

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