Ag Census Shows More and Larger Beef Cattle Operations
The 2017 Census of Agriculture, just released, shows the number of beef cattle operations in the United States has increased while the overall number of farms has decreased by 3%. The census is taken every five years, so the increase/decrease is compared to 2012 numbers.
While the average herd size is now 43.5 cows, it appears beef cattle operations in general are getting bigger. USDA breaks them down into categories and every group above 50-head mark saw growth: 50-99 cows increased 11%; 100-499 cows, 13%; 500-999 cows, 7%; and more than 1,000 cows, 8%. When the numbers are added up, ultimately 54% of our cattle are in herds of more than 100 head.
However, since the 1997 census, the number of cattle operations has declined overall.