USDA Cattle Inventory report shows restocking is underway

Cattle producers are restocking their pastures at an aggressive clip, if USDA’s Cattle Inventory report is any indication.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

January 30, 2015

2 Min Read
USDA Cattle Inventory report shows restocking is underway

Just about everyone in the beef business expected the USDA Cattle Inventory report, released this afternoon, to show that restocking was well underway in 2014. The surprise may be in just how aggressive cattle producers have answered the bell to put more hooves in their pastures.

Thje report shows all cattle and calves in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2015 at 89.8 million, 1% higher than the 88.5 million reported a year ago. But the big numbers came from the breakdown showing trends in beef cattle.

There, the report pegs beef cows, at 29.7 million, up 2% from last January’s report. And perhaps the most compelling figure in the report is beef replacement heifers at 5.8 million, up 4% from last year atr this time.

However, Mother Nature still holds all the aces and whether or not it rains, how much it rains, where it rains and when it rains will ultimately determine how many of those heifers remain in the cow herd and have a calf and how many will make an early departure to the feedyard. There, only time will tell.

Here’s the complete breakdown:

  • All cattle and calves in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2015 totaled 89.8 million head, 1% above the 88.5 million on Jan. 1, 2014.

  • All cows and heifers that have calved, at 39.0 million, were up 2% from the 38.3 million on Jan. 1, 2014.

  • Beef cows, at 29.7 million, were up 2 percent from January 1, 2014.

  • Milk cows, at 9.3 million, were up 1% from Jan. 1, 2014.

  • The 2014 calf crop was estimated at 33.9 million head, up 1% from 2013. Calves born during the first half of 2014 were estimated at 24.6 million, up slightly from 2013.

Other class estimates on Jan. 1, 2015 and the change from Jan. 1, 2014, are as follows:

  • All heifers 500 pounds and over, 19.2 million, up 1%.

  • Beef replacement heifers, 5.8 million, up 4%.

  • Milk replacement heifers, 4.6 million, up 1%.

  • Other heifers, 8.8 million, down slightly.

  • Steers weighing 500 pounds and over, 15.8 million, up 1%.

  • Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over, 2.1 million, up 3%.

  • Calves under 500 pounds, 13.7 million, up 1%.

  • Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots, 13.1 million, up 1%.

  • The combined total of calves under 500 pounds, and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds outside of feedlots was 25.2 million, up 1%.

To read the entire report, go to


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About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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