2018 is the fifth year in a row the nation's beef cattle herd has seen expansion. That's according to the newly-released cattle inventory numbers from USDA, but analysts say there are signs that growth may be slowing.
The government shutdown delayed tally found that as of January first, there was 94.8 million head of cattle in the U.S.-up about a half a percentage point from a year earlier. The report shows a 1% increase in beef cow numbers, while beef replacement heifers were down 3%.
By region, the central states from Texas through the Great Lakes are seeing increasing herd numbers based on cheap feed. The southeast came in neutral because of hurricane issues. Out west, cattle numbers were down due to drought and dryness.