Kentucky remains the largest cattle producer in the East

National Agricultural Statistics Service
Kentucky Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the Cattle report on Jan. 31, showing little change in beef cow numbers, but a continued decline in milk cows in Kentucky.

“This report shows cattle production remains a vital part of the Commonwealth’s agricultural economy,” said David Knopf, director of the NASS Eastern Mountain Regional Office in Kentucky. “In 2015, gross receipts from cattle were $927 million, the second leading commodity behind broiler production." 

The Kentucky cattle and calf inventory for January 1, 2017 was estimated at 2.16 million. Total inventory was down 10,000 head from last year. Five classes showed decreases from the previous year.

“As the state with the largest cattle inventory east of the Mississippi, Kentucky’s role in beef production is significant,” Knopf said. “A majority of the calves born in the state are bought by feedlots in other states and become part of the U.S. beef supply.” 

Cows and heifers that have calved were estimated at 1.08 million head, unchanged from 2016. Beef cow inventory was estimated at 1.02 million head, and milk cows were estimated at 57,000 head.

“Milk cow inventory continues to reach new lows and is down three percent from 2016,” Knopf reported.

Heifers 500 pounds and over were estimated at 300,000 head, down 25,000 head from last year's estimate. Beef replacement heifers totaled 150,000 head, down 10,000 from January 2016. Dairy heifers, at 40,000 head, were down 10,000 from 2016. Other heifers, at 110,000 head, were down 5,000 from the previous year. Steers 500 pounds and over numbered 210,000 head, down 15,000 from 2016. Bulls 500 pounds and over were unchanged head from a year ago and numbered 70,000 head. Calves less than 500 pounds were estimated at 500,000 head, up 30,000 from the 2016 estimate. Cattle on feed were estimated at 18,000 head, up 1,000 from the previous year. 

The 2016 calf crop was estimated at 980,000 head, up 10,000 from the previous year's estimate. 

All cattle and calves in the United States, as of January 1, 2017, totaled 93.6 million head. This is 2 percent above the 91.9 million head on January 1, 2016. 

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.6 million head, are 3 percent above the 39.5 million head on January 1, 2016. Beef cows, at 31.2 million head, are up 3 percent from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.35 million head, are up slightly from the previous year. 

All heifers 500 pounds and over, as of January 1, 2017, totaled 20.1 million head. This is 1 percent above the 19.9 million head on January 1, 2016. Beef replacement heifers, at 6.42 million head, are up 1 percent from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.75 million head, are down 1 percent from the previous year. Other heifers, at 8.88 million head, are 1 percent above a year earlier. 

Calves under 500 pounds in the United States, as of January 1, 2017, totaled 14.4 million head. This is 2 percent above the 14.1 million head on January 1, 2016. Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 16.4 million head, up slightly from one year ago. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.23 million head, up 4 percent from the previous year. 

The 2016 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.1 million head, up 3 percent from last year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2016 were estimated at 25.6 million head. This is up 4 percent from the first half of 2015. Calves born during the second half of 2016 were estimated at 9.53 million head, 27 percent of the total 2016 calf crop.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 13.1 million head on January 1, 2017. The inventory is down 1 percent from the January 1, 2016 total of 13.2 million head. Cattle on feed, in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head, accounted for 81.2 percent of the total cattle on feed on January 1, 2017. This is up 1 percent from the previous year. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) is 26.6 million head. This is 2 percent above one year ago.