Ethanol Blog

U.S. Cattle Herd Follows Rainfall, Co-Products

Cheryl Anderson
By  Cheryl Anderson , DTN Staff Reporter

In recent years, the U.S. cattle herd has been migrating to the Midwest, as producers seek relief from drought areas that have inadequate ponds and pastures to supply the same amount of cattle.

More cattle have been transitioned to states like Colorado and Nebraska where rainfall has been more abundant, in contrast to typical cattle-producing areas like California and Texas, according to an article by (…).

The article states that Texas has lost 24% of its beef herd between 2010 and 2014, while Oklahoma has experiences a 13% drop in cattle numbers. Consequently, some feedlots and meat packing plants have closed. However, some northern states like Montana, Nebraska, Iowa and the Dakotas have seen some growth or at least have held steady numbers of cattle.

Even the U.S. total beef herd is the lowest it has been since the 1950s, declining by 6%, or 1.8 million head, since 2011. That is even a further drop from the decreases in the herd for the 16 of 18 years.

Much of the reason for the shift in cattle to the Midwest is the proximity to cheaper feed, namely distillers grains. With Iowa and Nebraska ranking first and second consecutively in ethanol production, the availability and value of distillers grains makes those areas especially appealing. In fact, in 2014 Nebraska surpassed Texas as the largest cattle-feeding state for the first time in history.

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at



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