Cattle inventory numbers could show multi-decade lows

Ahead of Friday’s USDA semiannual cattle inventory report, analysts, on average, expect the numbers to show the continued impact of drought on the U.S. herd.

All cattle and calves in the U.S. as of January 1 are expected to be 98.2% a year ago and potentially the smallest total for the start of the year in 60 years. Pre-report estimates, via Dow Jones Newswires, run from 97.2% to 99.0%. 2012’s calf crop is seen at 97.9% of 2011’s total, possibly the lowest annual figure since 1949, with projections ranging from 97.4% to 98.8%.

The total number of cows and heifers that have calved is estimated at 98.7% of a year ago, with beef cows and heifers that have calved at 98.5%, and milk cows and heifers that have calved at 99.3%.

Heifers weighing 500 pounds and heavier are seen at 98.0%, with beef replacement heifers at 99.6% of a year ago, milk replacement heifers at 99.2%, and other heifers at 96.5%.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and up are pegged at 97.8% of a year ago, bulls 500 pounds and heavier are estimated at 97.3%, and calves weighing less than 500 pounds are projected at 97.5%.

The report is out Friday, February 1 at 3 PM Eastern/2 PM Central.

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