Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released two reports concerning the cattle industry. The semi-annual Cattle Inventory report shows that as of July 1, all cattle and calves in the United States totaled 103 million head, 1 percent above the 102 million head on July 1, 2017. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 41.9 million head, were 1 percent above the 41.6 million head on July 1, 2017. Beef cows, at 32.5 million head, were up 1 percent from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.4 million head, were unchanged from the previous year.
USDA also released its monthly Cattle on Feed report Friday, which shows the number of cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States totaled 11.3 million head on July 1, 2018, which is 4 percent above July 1, 2017. This is the highest July 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. The inventory included 7.13 million steers and steer calves, up 2 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 63 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.15 million head, up 8 percent from 2017.
Placements in feedlots during June totaled 1.79 million head, 1 percent above 2017, while marketing of fed cattle during June totaled 2.01 million head, 1 percent above 2017.
A story from Gary Crawford helps to answer the question: Is the expansion in the beef cattle herd finally over?
Shayle Shagam, USDA livestock analyst, says there are still considerable numbers of cattle outside feedlots.