U.S. records lowest beef cattle inventory since 1962


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its biannual cattle inventory report, and it fell largely in line with expectations.

With drought being a significant driver in parts of the U.S., the herd liquidation that has occurred over the past couple of years is continuing, confirming a tight supply picture going forward.

According to the report, all cattle and calves in the U.S. as of January 1, 2023, totalled 89.3 million head, which is 3 per cent lower compared to the same time last year

All cows and heifers that calved, at 38.3 million head, added up to 3 per cent below the 39.4 million head on January 1, 2022. Meanwhile, beef cows were down 4 per cent from a year ago, marking the lowest beef cattle inventory since 1962. Milk cows were up slightly year-over-year, at 9.40 million head.

Steers weighing over 500 pounds and over as January 1 totalled 16.1 million head, which is also down 3 per cent year-over-year. For the same time frame, bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totalled 2.03 million, which is down 4 per cent.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the U.S. for all feedlots totalled 14.2 million head — which is down 4 per cent from January, 2022.

As far as the calf crop goes, the USDA is estimating 34.5 million head, down 2 per cent from the previous year’s calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2022 were estimated at 25.3 million head — down 2 per cent from the first half of 2021. Calves born during the second half of 2022 were estimated at 9.16 million head — which is 27 per cent of the 2022 calf crop.

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