In spite of drought in several regions of the country and an uncertain outlook for cattle prices, it appears cattle producers are still betting on a positive future. At least that’s one take-away from the USDA midyear Cattle Inventory report.
According to the report:
- Cattle inventory of 102.6 million total cattle and calves is 4.5% (4.4 million head) more than July 2015.
- 32.5 million beef cows are 6.6% (2 million head) more than in 2015. The 31.2 million cows on Jan. 1 were 3% more than a year earlier.
- Beef replacement heifers of 4.2 million head are 2.1% less than two years earlier. The 6.4 million beef replacements at the start if the year were 1% more than at the beginning of 2016.
- Estimated calf crop for this year of 36.3 million head is 6.5% (2.2 million head) more than in 2015.
Since USDA didn’t conduct a midyear inventory estimate last year, it’s harder to make comparisons, according to the Steiner Consulting Group, which publishes the Daily Livestock Report. However, the 32.5 million estimate on July 1 is higher than the Jan. 1, 2017 estimate of 31.21 million head and 6.6% higher than the midyear estimate in 2015.
“The July cow herd tends to be larger than the January count because bred heifers are not considered part of the cow herd until they drop a calf in the spring,” DLR economists say.
“The survey also indicated that the dairy herd continues to expand. The dairy herd on July 1 was up 1.1% from two years ago. By far, however, the primary determinant for the increase in cow/beef supplies is the expansion of the beef cow herd,” DLR economists conclude.