Cattle Inventory: Smaller Inventory, Less Heifer Retention Than Expected

January 31, 2014 08:20 AM
 

 

 

USDA's data confirms the U.S. cattle herd has now contracted for seven consecutive years. The Jan. 1 inventory of all cattle and calves in the U.S. at 87.730 million head is roughly 320,000 head fewer than the average pre-report guess. The U.S. cattle herd is down roughly 1.57 million head from year-ago and nearly 9.3 million head fewer than in 2007, when the contraction phase started. The calf crop also continues to contract. At 33.930 million head last year, the calf supply is nearly 350,000 head fewer than 2012.

 

Semiannual Cattle Inventory Report

USDA

Avg.

Range

% of year-ago

All cattle & calves

98

98.6

98.0-99.1

Annual calf crop

99

97.9

97.7-98.1

Total Cows/heifers calved

99

98.9

98.7-99.3

beef cows/heifers calved

99

98.5

98.3-99.1

milk cows/heifers calved

100

99.9

99.8-100.0

Heifers 500 lbs. and over

98

99.0

97.9-99.6

Beef replacement heifers

102

103.1

102.4-103.5

Milk replacement heifers

100

100.3

98.9-101.1

Other heifers

95

95.9

93.2-97.1

Steers 500 pounds and over

97

98.4

97.3-99.6

Bulls 500 pounds and over

99

99.0

98.4-99.7

Calves under 500 pounds

96

97.9

97.0-99.1

 

Looking forward, cattle producers are rebuilding their beef herds, but at a slightly lower pace than was expected. Beef replacement heifers came in 2% above year-ago, while the trade expected a 3.1% increase. Most of the heifer retention was in the Central and Southern Plains. While there's incentive to rebuild herds after the prolonged contraction, pasture conditions still aren't back to where producers would like them to be. That's likely the reason there wasn't more heifer retention.


 

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