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Beef Cattle Herd Expansion Is Real, At Least for Now

A larger-than-expected calf crop and beef cowherd are a bit negative; fewer than expected beef replacement heifers are friendly.  

According to USDA’s Cattle Inventory report, released Friday, all cattle and calves in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2014 totaled 87.7 million head, 2% below the 89.3 million on Jan. 1, 2013. This is the lowest Jan. 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since the 82.1 million on hand in 1951.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 38.3 million, were down 1% from the 38.5 million on Jan. 1, 2013. This is the lowest Jan. 1 inventory of all cows and heifers that have calved since the 36.8 million head in 1941.

Record-high prices for fed cattle, feeder cattle and wholesale beef, plus significantly lower hay and grain costs, certainly set the stage for long-awaited expansion in the beef cowherd. However, expansion is not guaranteed.

To read more about record-high prices and herd expansion, click here.


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