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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 $391 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 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 Strong
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.

Eighth In Number of Beef Cattle Farms
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.
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, 2021 are: 1. Dekalb County 61,000 head; 2. Cullman County 57,000 head; 3. Montgomery County 46,000 head; 4. Blount County 45,000 head; 5. Lowndes County 39,000 head. For more details about beef cattle statistics in Alabama, visit the Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service website or

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 2020 ACA membership was 9,606 with 25 counties exceeding their 2019 membership. Franklin County was #1 with 514 members followed by Limestone County with 377 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: Lauderdale with 321 members, Pike with 295 members, and Cullman with 292 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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