Cattle Numbers Increase; but Alabama Still Needs More Cows
On January 1 there were 1,340,000 head of cattle and calves on Alabama farms according to figures released by the Alabama Agriculture Statistics Service. This is a 3% increase amounting to 40,000 more cattle than last year. There were 714,000 beef cows that had calved in the state on January 1 which is 3% more than year earlier figures.
Nationally, cattle numbers increased to 94.4 million head, up 1% from year earlier figures. This is the fourth year in row with an increase in the U.S. herd inventory. There are 31.7 million beef cows in the U.S. which is a 2% increase over 2017.
Carcass weights have increased steadily from 550 pounds to over 815 pounds in 2017, resulting in much more beef being produced per head. Not only are the cattle heavier but these larger cattle are producing beef that is much leaner. This has resulted through improved genetics, nutrition and better management.Value of Cattle Inventory & Hay Crops
The total value of cattle on Alabama farms in 2018 was $1,246 million. The value per head on January 1 was $930.
Alabama cattle depend on hay as a major winter feed source and cattlemen produce a lot of hay each year. In 2017 2.15 million tons of hay was harvested from 860,000 acres. The total value of the hay crop was $208.6 million.Beef Demand Still Strong
Domestically beef demand has remained strong and globally the saw big increases came in the export market. This has added dollars to the pockets of our cattle farmers.
2016 was a strong year for beef exports with 2.62 billion pounds of beef shipped overseas which exceeded imports by more than 27 million pounds. The value of beef exports last year was a record high $6.34 billion which contributed to $262 head in the value of cattle coming out of the feedlot. Exports accounted for 13.7% of total U.S. beef production. Eighth In Number of Beef Cattle Farms
Alabama ranks 15th among all states in the number of beef cows and 8th in the number of farms with beef cattle. USDA figures show there were 19,685 farms in Alabama with beef cows that have calved. Only Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Virginia have more farms with beef cows.
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 22 livestock auctions provide easy access markets to sell cattle.