US cattle herd shrinks by 2% in 2021

8 February 2022

The US cattle herd shrank by 2% last year, with the total number of cattle and calves on farms and in feedlots estimated at 91.9 million head.

The annual Cattle report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) shows that the beef cow herd also declined by 2% to 30.1 million. Heifers intended for replacement fell about 3% for both dairy and beef.

Total cattle on feed was 14.7 million head, up slightly from 2021. The total inventory and the beef cow numbers were both lower than what industry analysts had expected. The cattle on feed number was higher than the trade expected.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 39.5 million head, were 2% below the 40.3 million head on Jan. 1, 2021. The 2021 U.S. calf crop was estimated at 35.1 million head, down 1 percent from the previous year’s calf crop.

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