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January 2018 Montana and US Cattle and Calves Inventory Report

31 Jan
Buzz Tatom January 31, 2018 0

MT Cattle Ranches Cows

2018 United States Department of Agriculture and National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Cattle and Calves Inventory 

The semiannual report released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is comprised of numbers, values, and statistics regarding the United States’ cattle and calves inventory as well as the number of cattle operations and size groups nationally and by state. These statistics and findings are important for Montana cattle ranches. It shows the growth of the state compared to the rest of the nation since last year. We tried to best summarize the findings of the report below. You can dive in and see other reports here


As of January 1, 2018, the United States’ cattle inventory is up 1 percent from the previous year. The total number of all cattle and calves for the United States has increased by 1 percent from 93.7 million head to 94.4 million head since January 1, 2017.

The number of cows and heifers that have calved has also increased by 1 percent since January 1, 2017. Specifically, beef cow numbers are up 2 percent and milk cow numbers are up 1 percent from the previous year.

All United States heifers 500 pounds and over has increased by 1 percent. Beef replacement heifers decreased by 4 percent in the past year, but milk replacement heifers are up 1 percent. Other heifers number are up 4 percent from last year.

The number of steers weighing 500 pounds or more is down by less than 1 percent with 31,300 fewer steers weighing 500 pounds or more from January 2017. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over are up by approximately 8,600 bulls. The number of calves under 500 pounds is up by approximately 41,000 calves from 2017, a less than 1 percent difference.

The inventory of cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market is up by 7 percent from 2017. Furthermore, cattle on feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head, account for 82 percent of total cattle on feed. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 on feedlots, is down 2 percent.

2017 Calf Crop

The 2017 Calf Crop is up 2 percent compared to the 2016 calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2017 up 2 percent and calves born during the second half of 2017 equal 27 percent of the total 2017 calf crop. Since the low point in 2013, the cattle and calves inventory for the United States has seen a consistent upward trend. This is promising for United States ranchers as they continue their cattle operations.

MT Cattle Ranches

Montana Cattle Ranches

For the state of Montana, the 2018 numbers of total cattle and calves are down 4 percent from last year. However, the number of cows and heifers that have calved has increased by 1 percent. The number of beef cows that have calved rose by 1 percent. The number of milk cows that have calved fell by approximately 7 percent. This may be due to the focus of most Montana cattle ranchers to specialize in beef cows instead of milk cows. Montana is known for its grass-fed beef cows, not for its large milk cow operations.

The number of bulls 500 pounds and over increased by 5 percent from last year. Incongruently, the numbers of steers 500 pounds and over and calves under 500 pounds decreased. Montana’s 2017 calf crop rose by 2 percent compared to 2016’s calf crop. This means that Montana contributed toward the average 2 percent increase in the national calf crop for 2017.

NASS releases the cattle and calves inventory report every January 31st and July 21st. These reports help Montana cattle ranchers, as well as other ranchers throughout the United States, understand the current state of the cattle industry in terms of overall inventory. Look for our next short synopsis of the report on July 21st, 2018.






About the Authors


Montana Ranch Real Estate

Buzz Tatom

Partner at Venture West Ranches

Buzz Tatom, a partner at Venture West Ranches, is a ranch owner and has built, run and sold numerous businesses in his career. This gives him a unique background in helping Montana farmers and ranchers navigate the life decisions that we all have to face. Whether it is passing a ranch on to the next generation or planning for eventual sale, his talents and contacts help save clients money and navigate complicated transactions.


Connor Mayberry

Digital Marketing and Content Manager

As the Digital Marketing and Content Manager, Connor writes and creates content that compliments the Montana farms and ranches for sale on the website. Check out our articles page for more articles about Montana ranches.

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