Meat & Livestock News

US Cattle Numbers Show Slight Decline, USDA Reports


  • The US cattle population decreased by 2% to 87.2 million as of January 1, 2024.
  • Beef cows dropped to 28.2 million, and milk cows to 9.36 million, both reflecting slight declines.
  • Despite a 2% decrease in the calf crop, cattle on feed increased by 2% to 14.4 million head.

In a recent update from Washington, the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reveal a modest decrease in the country’s cattle population. As of January 1, 2024, the count stood at 87.2 million head of cattle and calves, marking a 2% reduction from the previous year.

Detailed Insights from the Report:

  • The total count of 87.2 million includes 37.6 million cows and heifers that have calved.
  • Beef cow numbers have decreased to 28.2 million, reflecting a 2% drop since last year.
  • Milk cow populations have also seen a slight decrease, now at 9.36 million.
  • The 2023 calf crop was estimated to be 33.6 million head, down by 2% from 2022.
  • Interestingly, the number of cattle on feed has risen by 2%, totaling 14.4 million head.

To compile these statistics, the National Agricultural Statistics Service conducted a survey of approximately 36,300 cattle operators across the United States in the first half of January. These producers reported on their cattle inventories as of the start of 2024 and provided estimates for the calf crop over the entire year of 2023.

The survey was carried out through various means, including the internet, mail, telephone, and in-person interviews.

For those interested in more detailed information, the full Cattle report, along with other publications from NASS, can be accessed online at their official website.

This snapshot offers a clear view of the current state of the U.S. cattle industry, highlighting slight shifts in cattle and calf populations across the nation.