U.S. cattle inventory 1% smaller

The U.S. cattle herd got 1% smaller between July 1st, 2020 and July 1st, 2021 and there are signs of further contraction in the coming months.

The USDA says the total of 100.9 million head included 1% declines for all cows and heifers that have calved to 40.9 million head, all steers and heifers weighing 500 pounds and heavier at 14.5 million and 16 million head, respectively, and calves weighing less than 500 pounds to 27.4 million head.

The most significant expectations to that contraction were in milk cows that have calved and milk replacement heifers, which were up 2% and 3% on the year, respectively, and bulls 500 pounds and heavier, which held steady.

The 2021 calf crop was slightly below year ago levels at 35.1 million head, with the USDA expecting a slower calving pace during the second half of the year.

Cattle and calves on feed headed for the slaughter market were also 1% below a year ago, with 84.3% of those on operations with 1,000 or more head, while the total number of calves, and other steers and heifers weighing less than 500 pounds declined 2%.

The USDA’s most recent cattle on feed report showed a 1% year to year decline, with a 7% decrease in placements during June 2021 against a 3% increase in marketings.

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