Annual Cattle Inventory Recap


USDA released their annual inventory report for cattle on Friday (Feb 1). Compared to inventories on January 1, 2012 all cattle and calves in the U.S. were lower by 1.6% at 89.300 million head. This was slightly higher than expected but well within the range of estimates. Figure 1 below depicts the changes across the U.S. It is easily noticeable that Texas led the charge shedding 550,000 head. Not surprisingly those states that suffered the worst of the drought also lost a significant number of beef cows (i.e., Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska).

The number that was under the microscope most was the number of heifers held for replacement. Analysts were expecting a year-over-year decline of 0.4% in this number but the range of estimates was widest at 10.9 percentage points. USDA reported the number of heifers held for replacement were up 1.9%. In the face of the widespread drought that covered so much of the U.S. in 2012 this number is rather resilient. Figure 2 shows the total number of heifers held back for each state. Interestingly Texas added 600,000 heifers (I interpret this as cows were shed in early 2012 with the drought still in full force, then as conditions slightly improved some rebuilding was started). Also of note is that other states that heavily culled cows were leaders in retaining heifers (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma).

For Mississippi, an overall decline in the number of cattle and calves was seen in 2012, down 4.2% year-over-year at 910,000 head. The number of beef cows held steady, though, at 486,000 head. Fewer heifers were held back in the state, 78,000 head down 4.9% from January 1, 2012. This is both surprising and telling given that Mississippi was not as severely impacted by the significant drought of 2012. Most producers have manageable hay supplies and forages and are likely in better shape than many other states. Still, the cost of production does not look to be declining and this could be the culprit. Another factor is the large increase in heifers held back the previous year (up 15.5%). One number that pops out is the 20% decline in steers and bulls over 500 pounds. This number was very high last year (61,000 steers on hand January 1, 2012 compared to 41,000 this year and 48,000 in 2011). It is no secret that numerous cattle migrated to Mississippi during the winter of 2011/12 while the Southern Plains and Louisiana were extremely dry.

Summary of Inventory Report:

No. of Head (1,000) % change from 2012 Pre-Report –
Inventory on Jan 1, 2013 for: Average Range
All cattle & calves 89,299.6 -1.6% -1.8% -2.8% -1.0%
Annual calf crop (1) 34,279.0 -2.9% -2.1% -2.6% -1.2%
Total cows/heifers that have calved 38,515.2 -2.2% -1.3% -2.8% 0.5%
beef cows/heifers that have calved 29,295.3 -2.9% -1.5% -3.6% 0.7%
milk cows/heifers that have calved 9,219.9 -0.1% -0.7% -1.7% 0.0%
Heifers 500 pounds and over 19,128.9 -1.1% -2.0% -3.5% -1.0%
beef replacement heifers 5,360.6 1.9% -0.4% -7.9% 3.0%
beef heifers expected to calve in 2012 3,280.3 1.8%
milk replacement heifers 4,550.7 -1.5% -0.8% -2.2% 0.3%
dairy heifers expected to calve in 2012 2,928.4 -4.5%
other heifers 9,217.6 -2.5% -3.5% -6.1% -1.9%
Steers 500 pounds and over 15,812.7 -0.1% -2.2% -2.6% -1.6%
Bulls 500 pounds and over 2,055.8 -1.9% -2.7% -5.0% -0.5%
Calves under 500 pounds 13,787.0 -2.3% -2.5% -2.7% -2.3%
Cattle on Feed 13,351.7 -5.5%
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
MS: All cattle & calves 910.0 -4.2%
MS: Beef Cows that have calved 486.0 0.0%
MS: Milk Cows that have calved 14.0 0.0%
MS: Beef Heifer Replacements 78.0 -4.9%
MS: Non-Replacement Heifers 35.0 -2.8%
MS: Steers & Bulls 500 pounds and over 80.0 -20.0%
MS: Calves under 500 pounds 210.0 -6.7%
MS: Calf Crop 400.0 3.9%
Source: USDA, NASS
(1) 2012 ending year calf crop

Figure 1:

BeefCowInvChg

Figure 2:

Heifers Added to U.S. Beef Herd 2012

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