USDA Cattle Inventory Report

Jan. 1 Cattle Inventory Down Slightly

USDA released its Jan. 1 Cattle inventory report on Friday. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- All cattle and calves in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2021, totaled 93.6 million head, slightly below the 93.8 million head on Jan. 1, 2020, USDA NASS reported on Friday.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.6 million head, were slightly below the 40.7 million head on Jan. 1, 2020. Beef cows, at 31.2 million head, were down 1% from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.44 million head, were up 1% from the previous year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over as of Jan. 1, 2021, totaled 20.0 million head, slightly below the 20.0 million head on Jan. 1, 2020. Beef replacement heifers, at 5.81 million head, were up slightly from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.60 million head, were down 2% from the previous year. Other heifers, at 9.58 million head, were 1% above a year earlier.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over as of Jan. 1, 2021, totaled 16.6 million head, up slightly from Jan. 1, 2020.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over as of Jan. 1, 2021, totaled 2.21 million head, down 1% from Jan. 1, 2020.

Calves under 500 pounds as of Jan. 1, 2021, totaled 14.2 million head, down 1% from Jan. 1, 2020.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 14.7 million head on Jan. 1, 2021. The inventory is up slightly from the Jan. 1, 2020 total of 14.7 million head. Cattle on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head accounted for 81.4% of the total cattle on feed on Jan. 1, 2021, down slightly from the previous year. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) at 25.7 million head, was slightly below Jan. 1, 2020, NASS reported.

CALF CROP DOWN 1%

The 2020 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.1 million head, down 1% from the previous year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2020 were estimated at 25.8 million head, down 1% from the first half of 2019. Calves born during the second half of 2020 were estimated at 9.39 million head, 27% of the total 2020 calf crop, NASS reported.

REVISIONS

All inventory and calf crop estimates for July 1, 2019, Jan. 1, 2020, and July 1, 2020, were reviewed using calf crop, official slaughter, import and export data, and the relationship of new survey information to the prior surveys. Based on the findings of this review, July 1, 2019, all cattle and calves decreased by 0.3%. Jan. 1, 2020, all cattle and calves decreased by 0.7% and 2019 calf crop decreased by 1.3%. July 1, 2020, all cattle and calves decreased by 0.8% and 2020 calf crop decreased by 1.9%.

State-level estimates were reviewed and changes were made to reallocate inventory estimates to the United States total, NASS said.

DTN ANALYSIS

"Friday's Cattle inventory report thankfully shared more bullish news that favors cattle producers," said DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart. "All cattle and calves in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2021, totaled 93.54 million head -- which is down slightly from the 93.79 million head from Jan. 1, 2020. But even more importantly to cattle producers across the U.S. is that beef cows totaled 31.15 million head, down 1% from a year ago. This adds strength to the long-term trajectory of the cattle market, as fewer cows yield fewer calves, which ultimately means that producers could potentially see greater returns with less supply pressure on the market.

"The report doesn't have a rattling effect on the cattle market like a bearish Cattle on Feed Report can, but instead molds the underlying tone of the marketplace," Stewart said. "Just this past week, the cattle complex was torn over whether the market should 'truly' trade higher. The board was met with opposition from traders as contracts have gained significant positioning, all while the market's fundamentals plead for higher trade with exceptional boxed beef demand and a stellar cash cattle market (live cattle traded $3 higher, and dressed cattle traded $5 higher than a week ago).

"The cattle market will continue to see opposition from hesitant traders in the weeks to come, and until the end of time, packers will quiver at the thought of cutting into their own margins to pay more for cash cattle. But Friday's Cattle inventory report will help shape the market for the next year and shows promising signs for greater profitability through a smaller cowherd," Stewart said.

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DTN subscribers can view the full USDA Cattle inventory report in the Livestock Archives folder under the Markets menu. The report is also available at https://www.nass.usda.gov/….

Class 2020 2021 % of previous year
(1,000 head) (1,000 head) (percent)
All cattle and calves 93,793.3 93,594.5 100
All cows and heifers 40,681.3 40,598.0 100
that have calved
-- Beef cows 31,338.7 31,157.6 99
-- Milk cows 9,342.6 9,440.4 101
All heifers 500 lbs. and over 20,024.4 20,000.1 100
-- For beef cow replacement 5,808.9 5,812.1 100
Expected to calve* 3,500.4 3,546.6 101
-- For milk cow replacement 4,684.0 4,604.5 98
Expected to calve* 2,971.4 2,915.9 98
-- Other heifers 9,531.5 9,583.5 101
Steers 500 pounds and over 16,541.2 16,597.8 100
Bulls 500 pounds and over 2,237.4 2,210.5 99
Calves under 500 pounds 14,309.0 14,188.1 99
All cattle on feed 14,657.7 14,707.4 100
2019 2020 % of previous year
Calf crop 35,591.6 35,135.5 99