U.S. cattle herd falls to smallest since 1951
By Daniel Enoch
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 31, 2014 - The U.S. cattle herd as of Jan. 1 was the smallest since 1951, USDA said today in a report.
The inventory was 2 percent below a year earlier and marked the seventh straight year of decline, as a persistent drought ravaged pastures and pushed feed prices higher, prompting ranchers to cull herds.
The reduced supply helped drive cattle futures to $1.432 a pound earlier this month, the highest ever, and fresh beef at the supermarket is going for record prices.
The government report also showed:
-All cows and heifers that have calved, at 38.3 million, down 1 percent from Jan. 1, 2013, and the lowest number for that category since the 36.8 million in 1941.
-Beef cows, at 29.0 million, down 1 percent from the previous year.
-Milk cows at 9.2 million, unchanged.
In addition, the 2013 calf crop was estimated at 33.9 million head, down 1 percent from 2012. This is the smallest calf crop since the 33.7 million born during 1949.
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