Food Engineering

US cattle numbers lowest since 1952

Southern and central plains have had the largest reductions.

February 11, 2013

A record-setting drought devastated feed supplies and forced producers to cull herds, leading to the lowest US cattle numbers since 1952. Beef cow numbers dropped three percent last year and are down 11 percent since 2007 according to Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt. Beef cow numbers were down nine percent in the southern plains and six percent in the central plains. Beef producers have struggled to compete with other sectors for expensive feed and limited land resources, leading to the decrease. But low-capita beef supplies and an improving global economy could indicate strong cattle prices in coming years and give producers hope for expansion.