The national beef cowherd (29.0 million head) is 1% smaller than last year, according to the January 1 Cattle Inventory report issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Friday.
Although unsurprising, the report adds specifics to the long-held notion that last year’s late-spring and summer dry spell stoppered expansion  plans for another year. There was no midyear inventory report last year due to federal budget cuts.
The number of beef replacement heifers (5.5 million head) is 2% more than last year. Keep in mind, producers increased the number of beef replacement heifers last year, too, before dry weather unraveled plans.
Overall, NASS pegs the total inventory  of all cattle and calves in the U.S. at 87.7 million head, down 2% from the previous year. That’s the lowest total since 1951.
All cows and heifers that calved (38.5 million head) is 1% less than the previous year and the least since 1941.
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