America’s Top 25 Beef Cow Counties, Page 2

Keep reading for the top 10 beef cow counties in the U.S., and further analysis of the numbers from the Census of Agriculture. 

( Lindsey Benne )

Updated July 10, 2019

  • 71,880 beef cows
  • 12.9 cows per sq. mile

  • 72,778 beef cows
  • 15.0 cows per sq. mile

  • 75,551 beef cows
  • 7.6 cows per sq. mile 

  • 76,103 beef cows
  • 4.4 cows per sq. mile


  • 79,459 beef cows
  • 22.8 cows per sq. mile 

  • 79,847 beef cows
  • 18.3 cows per sq. mile

  • 80,188 beef cows
  • 31.1 cows per sq. mile

  • 94,958 beef cows*
  • 36.9 cows per sq. mile

  • 96,467 beef cows 
  • 39.9 cows per sq. mile

  • 148,000 beef cows*
  • 24.8 cows per sq. mile
*Drovers Estimate (see "Behind the Numbers")


Behind the Numbers

Texas is America’s top beef cow state, with 4.57 million head. In fact, Texas boasts 14% of all the nation’s beef cows, yet only two Texas counties makes the top-25 list of America’s leading beef cow counties. Ranking number 13 on the list is Lavaca County with 67,102 cows, and Gonzales County at number 18 with 57,341 cows. Our top 25 beef cow counties was revealed in data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture released in April, 2019.

Similar to Texas, Missouri is America’s second-leading beef cow state with 2.16 million cows, yet only one county cracks the top-25, Polk at number 19 with 56,448 cows. And Oklahoma, the nation’s third-largest beef cow state, also put only one county, Osage, with 57,999 cows, into the top-25 beef cow county list.

One state, however, is home to the nation’s top four beef cow counties. (Note: This is a list of beef cows only. Feedlot and stocker cattle are not included in the list.)

Nebraska, with 1.9 million beef cows, the fourth-largest state by beef cow numbers, is home to the nation’s top four beef counties. Coming in at number four is Lincoln County, home to 80,188 beef cows. Custer County, NE is number three with 94,958 beef cows, and Holt County, Neb., is number two at 96,467 beef cows.

The nation’s top beef cow county is Cherry County, located in north-central Nebraska. Cherry County’s total number of beef cows is estimated by Drovers at 148,893. The National Agricultural Statistics Service did not report a beef cow number in the 2017 Census of Agriculture for Cherry County due to its commitment to avoid disclosing individual data.

Here’s what NASS says about such omissions: “If publishing a particular data item would identify an operation (for example, if there is only one producer of a particular commodity in a county), NASS does not publish the information. In such cases, the data are suppressed and shown as ‘(D),’ meaning ‘withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations.’

NASS, however, did report beef cow numbers for Cherry County in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. In that report NASS listed 135,852 beef cows in Cherry County, owned by 769 operations.

Drovers arrived at its estimate of 148,893 cows for 2017 by increasing the 2012 total by 9.6%., which is the percentage of Nebraska’s beef cow herd increase from 2012 to 2017.


Related Articles: 

Bigger Herds, More Beef Operations, Census Says

Census Roundup: Dairy Consolidates, Beef and Pig Operations Grow

Submitted by David Locklin on Fri, 07/05/2019 - 16:56

Totally wrong on your info, look up cattle per county in Texas, Deaf (deef) Smith county in Texas has an estimated 470,000 head, while adjoining counties have number near to this. My home county Milam ranked #42 in Texas, has @ 57,000 head, and there are no feed lots or dairies here, just cattle on pasture.

Submitted by Greg Henderson on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 09:25

This is a list of top beef cow counties only. Cattle on feed or stocker cattle on pasture are not included in the count. 

In reply to by David Locklin (not verified)

Submitted by Dale Pettit on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:25

Cow density per sq. Mile is a more accurate measurement because of the different sizes of counties. Cow density also reflects the natural resources available plus management practices that utulizes those resources.