Cattle Numbers Increase
On January 1 there were 1,290,000 head of cattle and calves on Alabama farms according to figures released by the Alabama Agriculture Statistics Service. There were 697,000 beef cows that had calved in the state on January 1.
Nationally, cattle numbers decreased to 93.6 million head, down 1% from year earlier figures. There are 31.2 million beef cows in the U.S. which is a 1% decrease over 2020.
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 2020 was $2.46 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 2020 2.33 million tons of hay was harvested from 750,000 acres. The total value of the hay crop was $218 million.
Beef Demand Still StrongEighth In Number of Beef Cattle Farms
Beef demand remains strong both domestically and internationally. Japan, South Korea and Mexico led this way in 2020 for tonnage of U.S. beef exports. Overall, 2020 was a strong year for beef exports with 1.25 metric tons of beef shipped overseas, valued at $7.6 billion.
Alabama ranks 23rd 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.
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.