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Alabama Beef Cattle Facts

Beef cattle production ranks second behind broilers in cash receipts among Alabama farm commodities. Alabama cattle producers sold $447 million worth of cattle and calves last year. Cattle are produced in every county and cattle production represents a $2.5 billion industry in Alabama. The state’s climate and land are ideally suited for growing forages and raising cattle.

Cattle Numbers
On January 1 there were 1,250,000 head of cattle and calves on Alabama farms according to figures released by the Alabama Agriculture Statistics Service, ranking Alabama as 14th in beef cattle numbers nationwide.

Nationally, there were 89.3 million head of cattle and calves on U.S. farms as of Jan. 1, 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Of the 89.3 million head inventory, all cows and heifers that have calved totaled 38.3 million.

There are 28.9 million beef cows in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2023, down 4% from last year. The U.S. calf crop was estimated at 34.5 million head, down 2% from 2021, while all cattle on feed were at 14.2 million head, down 4% from 2022.

Value of Cattle Inventory & Hay Crops
The total value of cattle on Alabama farms in 2022 was $2.5 billion. The value per head on January 1 was $1,200.

Alabama cattle depend on hay as a major winter feed source and cattlemen produce a lot of hay each year. In 2022 1.836 million tons of hay was harvested from 680,000 acres. The total value of the hay crop was $235 million.

Beef Demand Still Strong
Beef demand remains strong both domestically and internationally. The top eight importers of U.S. beef include South Korea, China/Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Colombia, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. The total export value of U.S. beef and beef products in 2022 was $11.68 billion.

14th In Number of Beef Cattle
Inventory of all cattle and calves in the United States, as of January 1, 2023, totaled 89.3 million head, down 3 percent from the 92.1 million head on January 1, 2022. There were 678,000 beef cows that had calved in the state on January 1. The state ranks 14th among all states in beef cow numbers. USDA figures show there were 17,972 farms in Alabama with beef cows that have calved.

Alabama cattle producers primarily have cow-calf farms each year the calf crop is sold and shipped to stocker programs in the Midwest or directly feedlots for finishing A statewide network of 27 livestock auctions provide easy access markets to sell cattle.
Forage Number One Resource
Producers have the climate needed to excel in forage production. Rainfall averages exceeding 55 inches and a mild climate, insures nearly year-round grazing. The wide variety of perennial forages coupled with cool season grasses and clovers offer cattlemen the opportunity to wean heavy calves and also to carry these calves past weaning in a stocker program.

Dekalb County Leads in Cattle #s
According to USDA data, the top five cattle producing Alabama counties as of January 1, 2022 are: 1. Dekalb County 60,000 head; 2. Cullman County 56,000 head; 3. Montgomery County 45,000 head; 4. Blount County 44,000 head; 5. Lowndes County 38,000 head. For more details about beef cattle statistics in Alabama, visit the Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service website.

Alabama Has Top Purebred Producers
Alabama has some of the top purebred herds in the country. These outstanding seedstock producers supply a large selection of outstanding bulls annually. All of the major breeds are represented including Angus, Beefmaster, Brangus, Charolais, ChiAngus, Gelbveih, Hereford, Limousin, Red Angus, Santa Gertrudis, Senepol, and Simmental.

ACA Membership Strong
The 2022 ACA membership was 10,000 with 34 counties exceeding their 2021 membership. Franklin County was #1 with 522 members followed by Cullman County with 333 members. These two counties have set the standard for recruiting members and have a great record of increasing membership each year. Completing the top five are: Limestone with 324 members, Lauderdale with 316 members, and Pike with 298 members.

Headquarters on Capitol Hill Houses “The MOOseum”
The organization is headquarters in a beautiful building located on Capitol Hill in downtown Montgomery. The $2 million facility includes a one-of-a-kind children’s educational center which tells the story of the beef cattle industry in the state. Over 5,000 school children tour The MOOseum each year learning about the state’s cattle industry and that beef is a safe, wholesome and nutritious protein for families to enjoy.

In addition, the building has a much in demand meeting room. The ACA, Alabama Junior Cattlemen's Association, Alabama Cattlemen's Foundation, Alabama Livestock Hall of Fame and Southeastern Livestock Exposition are headquartered in the Cattlemen’s Building.

Economic Impact of Beef Cattle in Alabama

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