According to USDA’s 2013 Cattle report – the nation’s total cattle inventory dropped another two-percent during 2012. The herd totaled 89.3-million head and marks the lowest January 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since 1952. At 29.3-million head – beef cattle are down three-percent from a year ago. Also down three-percent from 2011 is the 2012 calf crop – which the report estimates at 34.3-million head. That’s the smallest calf crop since 1949. There was a two-percent increase from a year ago in beef replacement heifers at 5.4-million head.
The overall decline in the U.S. cattle herd was not unexpected. Bloomberg News reported Thursday that the average estimate of eight analysts surveyed was 88.92-million head as of January 1st. North Dakota State University Livestock Economist Tim Petry said drought in the Southern Plains in 2011 and expanding to the Corn Belt and other northern areas last year is instrumental in the numbers being down.