Economic Tidbits

Nebraska’s Beef Count

Nebraska’s total cattle and calf inventory was 6.8 million head on Jan. 1 according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS), unchanged from last year.

This marks the third consecutive year the Jan. 1 number of total cattle in the state has remained roughly the same. Beef cows that calved totaled 1.92 million head, down 1 percent from last year. Nebraska remains fourth among states in the number of beef cows that calved following Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Nebraska’s calf crop last year was 1.80 million, 1 percent more than the prior, somewhat surprising given the fewer number of beef cows which calved and higher death losses reported last year due to the poor weather.

Nationwide, the beef cow herd totaled 31.3 million head, down 1 percent. Over the last four years the nation’s beef cow herd grew 2.9 percent in 2016, 3.5 percent in 2017, 0.8 percent in 2018, and 1 percent last year. The growing herd led to larger beef production and supplies, but it now appears the herd growth has stopped. Beef production is still expected to grow this year but moderate in 2021.

The USDA-NASS also released its estimates of cattle on feed as of Jan. 1 in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more. Cattle on feed in Nebraska totaled 2.46 million head, 4 percent less than last year. Nebraska was second to Texas (2.96 million head) in the number of cattle on feed. December placements into Nebraska feedlots numbered 465,000 head, up 13 percent from last year. Feedlot marketings equaled 470,000 head, up 9 percent from last year. Nationwide, the cattle on feed totaled 12.0 million head, 2 percent above last year.

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