US Cattle Herd Smallest in Six Decades
Drought takes a toll in the heartland
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 1, 2013 5:58 PM CST
In this Nov. 20 photo, Debbie Blythe feeds cattle on her farm near White City, Kan.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

(Newser) – The severe drought that scorched pastures across the American heartland last summer helped shrink the US cattle herd to its smallest size in more than six decades and encouraged the movement of animals to lusher fields in the north and west. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said today that the US inventory of cattle and calves totaled 89.3 million animals as of Jan. 1. That was down by 1.5 million cattle, or 2%, compared with this time a year ago. It's the lowest January cattle inventory since 1952.

Texas, the largest cattle-producing state, saw its herd shrink 5% to 11.3 million head amid a multi-year drought. Nebraska's herd shrunk 2% to 6.3 million animals as the drought spread north this summer. In Kansas, another hard-hit state, the number of cattle shrunk 4% to 5.8 million animals as ranchers sold off animals amid skyrocketing prices for hay. By contrast, northern states fared better. North Dakota ranchers expanded their herds by 6% to nearly 1.8 million head, while South Dakota's cattle numbers grew 5% to 3.8 million. Montana, Idaho, and Washington also boosted the size of their herds. The growth in the north didn't make up for losses elsewhere, however.

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Feb 3, 2013 7:04 AM CST
Feb 2, 2013 5:22 AM CST
as the world population increases, so does the size of our herds. Problem is that the herds are a major cause of global warming. The three major causes are volcanoes, autos and similiar emissions but the largest contributor is cow poop. We are actually being done in by cow farts.
Feb 2, 2013 5:05 AM CST
After speaking to a friend who owns a dairy heard. The reason he cut his heard down was 1) high cost of feed, 2) Lack of water, 3) cost of digging a new well, 4) decrease in milk profit, the federal milk subs. go to the producer, not the dairyman and 5) the amount of intrest on his farm loan and the taxes he has to pay on his land. He said that at the present rate, he would be out of dairy within five years and he said he knows of probley 20 others in the same fix.