Mid-year US cattle numbers show herd rebuilding

27 July 2015

The US cattle herd, as at 1 July 2015, was estimated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be 98.4 million head. This is 2% higher than 12 months ago, and is the first time an increase has been recorded in the mid-year figure since 2006.

The cattle categories demonstrating a national herd rebuild centre around the number of heifer replacements and cows on hand.

  • Replacement beef heifers were up 7% on last year, to 4.9 million head;
  • Replacement dairy heifers were 2% higher, to 4.2 million head;
  • Beef cows on hand – up 3%, to 30.5 million head;
  • Dairy cows on hand – up 1%, to 9.3 million head.

The USDA also expects that there will be a larger calf crop in 2015, 1% higher than last year, at 34.3 million head.

While a number of reports and market movements throughout the year have pointed towards the US national cattle herd getting larger, these are significant changes to the mid-year inventory estimates. Cattle slaughter and beef production has been low so far this year, but there will likely be increases from 2016 and beyond.

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