It probably comes as a surprise to nobody, but USDA’s Jan. 1 Cattle Report shows there are more cattle of all types than a year ago. The report shows beef cows up 3% over last year, but beef replacement heifers only up 1%. With dynamics in the industry what they are at the moment, the question is, will the slight expansion in beef cow and heifer numbers shown in the report continue through 2017?
Good question. On one hand, if Mother Nature continues to cooperate, much of cattle country should have ample grazing this spring and summer. And hay stocks are ample, meaning beef producers may be able to hold their herds together if the Ol’ Lady doesn’t. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, beef production should be higher this year with the higher inventory count. Here are the numbers USDA ginned out:
All cattle and calves in the United States, as of Jan. 1, 2017, totaled 93.6 million head. This is 2% above the 91.9 million head on January 1, 2016.
All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.6 million head, are 3% above the 39.5 million head on January 1, 2016. Beef cows, at 31.2 million head, are up 3% from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.35 million head, are up slightly from the previous year.
All heifers 500 pounds and over, as of Jan. 1, 2017, totaled 20.1 million head. This is 1% above the 19.9 million head on Jan. 1, 2016. Beef replacement heifers, at 6.42 million head, are up 1% from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.75 million head, are down 1% from the previous year. Other heifers, at 8.88 million head, are 1% above a year earlier.
Calves under 500 pounds in the United States, as of Jan. 1, 2017, totaled 14.4 million head. This is 2% above the 14.1 million head on Jan. 1, 2016. Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 16.4 million head, up slightly from one year ago. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.23 million head, up 4% from the previous year.
The 2016 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.1 million head, up 3% from last year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2016 were estimated at 25.6 million head. This is up 4% from the first half of 2015. Calves born during the second half of 2016 were estimated at 9.53 million head, 27% of the total 2016 calf crop.
Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 13.1 million head on Jan. 1, 2017. The inventory is down 1% from the Jan. 1, 2016 total of 13.2 million head. Cattle on feed, in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head, accounted for 81.2% of the total cattle on feed on Jan. 1, 2017. This is up 1% from the previous year. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) is 26.6 million head. This is 2% above one year ago.