Beef Industry Overview

Beef has the most unique and complex lifecycle of any food produced in the United States. The cattle and beef industry includes a variety of distinct segments, and it takes 2-3 years to bring beef from farm to fork.
U.S. Beef Community 

  • Beef cattle are raised in all 50 states 
  • Average age of a cattle producer is 58.3 
882,692 total cattle & calf operations. Of these: 

  • 802,317 are cow/calf and stocker/backgrounder cattle farms and ranches 
  • 96% are family owned and operated 
  • 9% are operated by women 
  • 28,180 are feedlot production operations.(80% family owned.) 
  • 54,599 are dairy herds 
  • All Cattle and Calves 
    • 93.6 million – 1% decrease from 2020 (93.8 million) 
  • All Cattle on Feed 
    • 14.7 million – comparable to 2020 (14.7 million)
      • >1000 head feedlot capacity – 81.4% cattle 
  • Cows 
    • Beef: 31.2 million head, down 1% from 2020
    • Milk: 9.44 million head, down 1% from 2020 
  • Cows and Heifers that Calved 
    • 40.69 million head – slightly below 2020 (40.7 million) 
  • Heifers 500lbs and over
    • 20 million head – comparable to 2020 (20 million) 
      • Beef Replacement Heifers 
        • 5.81 million, up slightly from 2020 
      • Milk Replacement Heifers 
        • 4.60 million, down 2% from 2020 
      • Other Heifers 
        • 9.58 million, 1% increase from 2020 
  • Steers 500lbs and over 
    • 16.6 million head – up slightly from 2020 
  • Bulls 500lbs and over 
    • 2.21 million head – down 1% from 2020 
  • Calves under 500lbs 
    • 2.21 million head – down 1% from 2020 
  • 2020 Calf Crop 
    • 35.1 million head – down 1% from 2019 
      • Jan.– June Calves: 25.8 million head - down 1% from 2019 
      • July – Dec. Calves: 9.39 million head (27% of the total 2019 calf crop)

Top 5 States

  • All Cattle 
    • Texas: 13.1 million
    • Nebraska: 6.85 million
    • Kansas: 6.5 million
    • Oklahoma: 5.3 million
    • California: 5.15 million 
  • Cows and Heifers that have Calved
    • Texas: 5.3 million
    • California: 2.39 million
    • Oklahoma: 2.23 million
    • Missouri: 2.16 million
    • Nebraska: 1.96 million  
  • Beef Cows that have Calved 
    • Texas: 4.69 million
    • Oklahoma: 2.19 million
    • Missouri: 2.04 million
    • Nebraska: 1.9 million
    • South Dakota: 1.8 million 
  • Dairy Cows that have Calved
    • California: 1.72 million
    • Wisconsin: 1.26 million
    • Idaho: 646,000
    • New York: 625,000
    • Texas: 615,000
  • Calf Crop 
    • Texas: 4.6 million
    • Oklahoma: 1.95 million
    • Missouri: 1.91 million 
    • California: 1.84 million
    • South Dakota: 1.78 million 
  • Cattle on Feed
    • Texas: 2.89 million
    • Nebraska: 2.72 million
    • Kansas: 2.66 million
    • Iowa: 1.17 million 
    • Colorado: 1.14 million
Source: USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service

Leading Beef Exports

Leading Variety Meat Exports

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Sara Harris
Texas