Cattle inventory down on herd liquidation
There were 98.8 million cattle and calves in the U.S. on July 1st, 2022, 2% less than on July 1st, 2021.
All major categories showed year-to-year declines, but the biggest decreases were in heifer, cow, and calf inventories, including the fourth year in a row with smaller beef cow numbers, a sign that some producers are liquidating herds in response to drought conditions in major production areas.
The USDA says all cows and heifers that have calved fell 2% on the year, with a 2% decline for beef cows and a 1% decrease for dairy cows, while all heifers weighing 500 pounds and heavier were 2% below last year, with beef replacement heifers 3% lower, dairy replacements down 1%, and all other heifers also down 1%.
The 2022 calf crop is projected at 34.6 million head, 1% below 2021, with calving in the first half of the year already falling 1% below last year’s levels.
Steers weighing 500 pounds and heavier were 1%, bulls were unchanged, and calves weighing less than 500 pounds dropped 3%.
The numbers look supportive for prices, but that will be influenced by several factors, including changes to the cost of production, beef demand, and macro-economic issues.