LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The lingering effects of drought across the Great Plains in recent years have led to another decrease in the U.S. cattle herd.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that the U.S. inventory of cattle and calves totaled 87.7 million animals as of Jan. 1. That was down by about 1.6 million cattle, or 2 percent, compared with this time last year.
The agency says this is the lowest January inventory since 1951.
A bright spot was a 2 percent increase in young, female cattle retained for breeding. One expert says that factor could allow the herd's seven-year contraction to stabilize.
Totals in Texas, the nation's leading cattle producer, decreased 4 percent.
The January report had been anxiously awaited because the agency didn't issue a report in July due to sequestration.