USDA Cattle Inventory Report

Jan. 1 Cattle Inventory Down Slightly

USDA released its biannual Cattle Inventory report on Friday. (Progressive Farmer file photo by Sam Wirzba)

This article was originally posted at 2:14 p.m. CST on Friday, Jan. 31. It was last updated at 3:01 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31.

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OMAHA (DTN) -- All cattle and calves in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2020, totaled 94.4 million head, slightly below the 94.8 million head on Jan. 1, 2019, USDA NASS reported on Friday.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.7 million head, were 1% below the 41.0 million head on Jan. 1, 2019. Beef cows, at 31.3 million head, were down 1% from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.33 million head, were down slightly from the previous year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over as of Jan. 1, 2020, totaled 20.1 million head, slightly below the 20.2 million head on Jan. 1, 2019. Beef replacement heifers, at 5.77 million head, were down 2% from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.64 million head, were down 1% from the previous year. Other heifers, at 9.71 million head, were 1% above a year earlier.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over as of Jan. 1, 2020, totaled 16.7 million head, down 1% from Jan. 1, 2019.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over as of Jan. 1, 2020, totaled 2.24 million head, down 1% from Jan. 1, 2019.

Calves under 500 pounds as of Jan. 1, 2020, totaled 14.7 million head, up 1% from Jan. 1, 2019.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 14.7 million head on Jan. 1, 2020. The inventory is up 2% from the Jan. 1, 2019, total of 14.4 million head. Cattle on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head accounted for 81.5% of the total cattle on feed on Jan. 1, 2020, up 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 26.4 million head, was slightly below Jan. 1, 2019.

CALF CROP DOWN 1%

The 2019 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 36.1 million head, down 1% from last year's calf crop.

Calves born during the first half of 2019 were estimated at 26.4 million head, down slightly from the first half of 2018.

Calves born during the second half of 2019 were estimated at 9.71 million head, 27% of the total 2019 calf crop.

DTN ANALYSIS

"Friday's Cattle Inventory report revealed Jan. 1 U.S. cattle inventory to be down just slightly and the 2019 calf crop down 1%," said DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart. "Whenever USDA refers to data being 'up slightly' or 'down slightly,' it means that the difference is less than a full percentage point.

"Upon reading the report, some of you probably used words that can best be described politely in writing as symbols, such as '#^@*!*^!.' Maybe you thought to yourself, 'What does it take to get a bullish report? For goodness-gracious, we just wrapped up a year of hard-pressed slaughter, which should have largely affected this report when you consider that a large percentage of this last year's data was heifers and culls cows!'

"All of these are fair remarks," Stewart said. "But let's remember that this is a biannual report, and this is the first time in six year (and the first time in the last 12 reports) that the data has shown a decrease in total numbers. That is significant, noteworthy and most definitely bullish.

"Understanding where the U.S. sits regarding expansion versus declining numbers is a vital key to understanding where live cattle and feeder cattle prices could land in the future. The fact that this is the first time in six year that the total number of all cattle and calves in the United States is lower is huge. Given the current weakness in the market surrounding the emotional distress of the coronavirus, this report may or may not encourage current prices to rally higher, but in time, its findings will be obvious."

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

Cattle Inventory by Class and Calf Crop - U.S.: Jan. 1, 2019 and 2020
Class 2019 2020 % of previous year
(1,000 head) (1,000 head) (percent)
All cattle and calves 94,804.7 94,413.3 100
All cows and heifers that have calved 41,044.1 40,651.3 99
-- Beef cows 31,690.7 31,316.7 99
-- Milk cows 9,353.4 9,334.6 100
All heifers 500 lbs. and over 20,210.0 20,114.4 100
-- For beef cow replacement 5,884.9 5,771.9 98
Expected to calve* 3,528.9 3,499.4 99
-- For milk cow replacement 4,701.5 4,637.0 99
Expected to calve* 3,005.7 2,931.4 98
-- Other heifers 9,623.6 9,705.5 101
Steers 500 pounds and over 16,757.7 16,671.2 99
Bulls 500 pounds and over 2,253.0 2,237.4 99
Calves under 500 pounds 14,539.9 14,739.0 101
All cattle on feed 14,367.9 14,667.7 102
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2018 2019 % of previous year
Calf crop 36,312.7 36,059.6 99
*Replacement heifers expected to calve during the year.

(AG)