May is All About Beef in Kentucky

Anyone east of the Mississippi River who asks where the beef is needs to know the answer: Kentucky, of course! As weather warms up and grills are uncovered, burgers and steaks can be heard sizzling away. Do you know the significance of beef in this state, though? 

“As the state with the largest cattle inventory east of the Mississippi, Kentucky’s role in beef production is significant,” said David Knopf, director of the NASS Eastern Mountain Regional Office in Kentucky. “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.” 

Total cattle and calf inventory as of Jan. 1, 2017, is 2.16 million, which places Kentucky 14th overall in the United States. Beef cow inventory is 1.02 million, putting the Commonwealth 8th in the U.S. and maintaining its position as the top beef producing state east of the Mississippi River. 

“Our most recent Cattle report shows cattle production remains a vital part of the Commonwealth’s agricultural economy,” said Knopf. “Cash receipts of $734 million put it in the top five commodities for the state.” 

Kentucky Cattle by Numbers

  • More than 40,000 farms raise cattle in Kentucky 
  • Total inventory, cattle and calves – 2,160,000 
  • 14th in U.S. in head of cattle 
  • Beef cows – 1,023,000; 8th in U.S. 
  • #1 producer east of the Mississippi River 
  • Cows and heifers that have calved – 1,080,000 
  • 2016 production: 575,187,000 pounds; 18th in U.S. 
  • 2016 Value of Production: $700,103,000 
  • 2016 Cash Receipts: $733,674,000 
  • 2016 Value of home consumption: $11,251,000 
  • 2016 Gross Income: $744,925,000 
  • 16% of Kentucky’s agricultural income in 2015 was from cattle 

Did You Know? 

  • A 3.5-ounce serving of beef contains 22 grams of protein, almost 4 grams of zinc, and nearly 2 grams of iron. 
  • Americans consumed 24.8 billion pounds of beef in 2015, which equals more than 99 billion quarter-pound hamburgers or nearly 50 billion 8-ounce steaks. 

For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Eastern Mountain Regional Field Office at (800) 928-5277, or visit