Cattle Population in U.S. Smallest Since 1958

Thursday, February 03, 2011
Although the future looks bright for the industry, cattle ranchers have reduced the size of their stocks in order to make up for recent losses and cover rising feed costs. The situation has left the nation with the smallest cattle population in 53 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Including beef and dairy animals, the total number of cattle in the U.S. was 92.6 million at the beginning of this year, representing the lowest volume since 1958. The number of calves is the lowest since 1950 and the number of cows the lowest since 1949.
The shrinkage is a result of ranchers slaughtering more cattle than expected. Higher selling prices last year enticed owners to unload more of their livestock to make up for losses sustained in 2009.
It is also costing ranchers more these days to feed their cattle, due to higher corn prices, which has discouraged larger inventories.
Present concerns have trumped the outlook for tomorrow, which appears positive, given that cattle futures climbed 26% over the past year.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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