in sharp decline
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The U.S. cattle population might decline nearly 2% in 2012 to its lowest level in 58 years. The January 1, 2013, herd inventory might total just over 89 million head, down about 1.725 million head from last January’s 90.769 million head. This would be the second 2% decline in successive years.
Preliminary estimates of the 2013 total come from the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC). The decline in the beef cow herd in 2012 will be at a slower rate than in 2011, says LMIC. So it expects beef cow numbers next January to be about 29.4M head. This would represent an annual drop of 475,000 to 500,000 head (-1.6%) But all major categories reported by USDA, such as dairy cows and the calf crop, should also post year-on-year declines, it says.
The LMIC expects dairy cow numbers to fall by 1% or 105,000 head and the 2012 calf crop to decline by 2.4% or more than 800,000 head. So the January 1 total cattle and calf inventory might be down 1.9%, says LMIC.
How much the beef cow herd and total inventory will be down will depend mostly on beef cow slaughter levels this fall quarter, says LMIC’s Jim Robb. Drought, high feed costs and other factors will continue to influence decisions made by cattle producers. LMIC’s preliminary estimates for the January 1 inventory are based on USDA’s January I inventory report and its mid-year report. USDA reported January 1 beef cow numbers at 29.9M head, down 967,000 head or 3.1% from a year earlier. It reported beef cow numbers at mid-year 2.9% below a year ago. So far this year, beef cow slaughter through the end of September was down 12% from a year ago. Dairy cow slaughter was up 7%, and total cow slaughter was down 4%, says LMIC.