You may not have realized it, but for the first time in almost a decade America’s cattle herd has increased. According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service the number of cattle and calves in the U.S. as of January 1, 2015, totaled 89.8 million head. This is an increase over last year’s total by 1%. The number of cows and heifers that have calved is up roughly 2% from 2014, while the total number of beef cows is up 2%. Two other areas up 1% over last year are cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots, reported at 13.1 million head, and the combined total of calves under 500 pounds, and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds outside of feedlots, reported at 25.2 million head.
While this is not a significant percentage increase, it is a sign that those in the cattle business need to be aware of, especially since the cattle feeding margins declined nearly $53 per head this past week. Compare this to a year ago, when cattle feeders were earning an average of $170 on each animal sold. Except for those cow-calf producers, the projected average cash profit margins are roughly $688 per cow this year, compared to last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins of $548 per cow.
Information for this article came from agweb.com articles by Greg Henderson at Beef Today and Wyatt Bechtel at Dairy Today.