Industry At A Glance: Beef Cow Inventory Over Time

The world change in beef cow inventory during the past five years is equivalent to 3.7 million head.

Nevil Speer

August 13, 2013

2 Min Read
Industry At A Glance: Beef Cow Inventory Over Time

Ongoing liquidation of beef cows in the U.S. is an important topic for the nation’s beef industry. However, it’s also important to put that into some larger global context. In other words, how does the change in inventory in recent years compare to what’s happening in the rest of the world?

The U.S. ranks fourth in terms of total cattle inventory (behind India, Brazil and China, respectively), yet ranks as the world’s leader in terms of overall production (nearly 25 billion lbs. annually). Moreover, the U.S. also serves as one of the world’s leading beef exporters (behind India, Brazil and Australia from a tonnage perspective). More importantly, though, the U.S. holds the distinction as being the primary source of high-quality beef for many of the world’s key export markets.

top beef cow inventory countries

The data above depicts country-by-country changes in beef cow inventory during the past five years. The overall net change is equivalent to 3.7 million head. Clearly, China, the U.S. and Canada represent some significant loss in numbers; meanwhile, Brazil and Australia have managed to grow their respective cowherds.

As these trends emerge, they begin to have significant impact on global trade and overall beef production capabilities. What do you see as the major influence of shifting cow populations across the globe?  Where do you see all of this headed in the future? How might that influence the evolution of the beef industry in the U.S. going forward?

Leave your thoughts below.


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About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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