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Beef cow numbers up 3% for United States-Canada

Beef cow numbers up 3% for United States-Canada

Combined, the beef cow inventory in the United States and Canada at the beginning of the year was 34.2 million head. That’s 3.1% more year to year and 3.6% more compared to 2014.

Although there were 4% more beef cows in the U.S. at the beginning of this year compared to last, there were slightly fewer year to year in Canada, according to the U.S. and Canadian Cattle report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) this week.

Canada’s beef cow inventory Jan.1 was 3.8 million head, just about even with the prior year, but 1.9% less than in 2014.

The U.S. beef cow inventory began this year at 30.3 million head.

Combined, the beef cow inventory in both countries at the beginning of the year was 34.2 million head. That’s 3.1% more year to year and 3.6% more compared to 2014.

NASS reports the total combined January 1 inventory of both nations at 104 million head, 3% more than the previous year.

“It seem clear to me that expansion (U.S.) will continue in 2016 , albeit at a more moderate pace than 2015, and into 2017 as well,” explains Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his market comments this week. “At this point, it seems likely that the herd will peak cyclically at an inventory somewhere between 31 and 33 million head. The ultimate total is a moving target that must be monitored along the way. Unfortunately, that will be more difficult given USDA’s recent announcement to suspend the July Cattle report. This means that there will be no indication of the size of the 2016 calf crop; the status of heifer retention; nor the estimated feeder supply until 2017.”

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As mentioned in Cattle Market Weekly last week, USDA estimates the U.S. beef cow herd increasing to 33.2 million head by 2025.

“Ultimately, it is demand that will determine the size of the industry,” Peel says.  “Domestic and international markets will be the key to how big the beef cow herd will be. Beef carcass weights will also be important in determining how many animals are needed to meet that total market demand.” 


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