The number of beef cow operations in the United States declined again last year, totaling 757,900, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year was the 12th consecutive year in which operations declined. There are now 140,000 fewer operations than in 1995, the last year for any growth in the number of beef cow operations. The industry has seen a 25 percent decline in the number of operations since 1986.
USDA estimated the total U.S. beef cow herd at 32.6 million, down 339,000 head from
Beef cow operations with fewer than 50 head still account for 77 percent of the total number of operations in the United States. The total average herd size is 43 head, but average herd size has slowly increased over the years. Beef cow operations with 100 to 500 cows have 39 percent of the cow herd inventory, and operations with more than 500 cows account for 15 percent of the total inventory.