Is South Dakota Still a Cattle State?

How does South Dakota match up against the rest? Jim Krantz, Cow/Calf expert gives a breakdown of the recent USDA statistics.
calendar icon 1 July 2014
clock icon 2 minute read

South Dakota cattlemen and cattle feeders continue to keep their state among the national leaders in beef production, writes Mr Krantz of South Dakota State University. This is despite the challenges presented by the drought of 2012 and escalating feed and land costs.

This status was verified with the release of the USDA South Dakota census of agriculture. With a calf crop inventory of 1,690,000 head (January 1, 2013), South Dakota ranked 4th among the nation’s leading cattle states.

Although that number is slightly less than the 2012 total (1,710,000), it is still the largest total since 2008.

Focus on South Dakota - The State has 1.635 million beef cows

The State’s cow herd and their offspring accounted for almost 23 percent of its agricultural gross receipts.

That total represents an 8th place ranking among all states. When reviewing cow numbers by themselves, the January 1, 2014 beef cow inventory total stood at 1,635,000, down slightly from the 2013 inventory number but still about 1.5 percent above the 2012 mark.

That 1.635 million head total still ranks South Dakota 5th nationally behind Texas (number 1 with over 4 million cows), Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Beef cattle outnumber people in South Dakota by more than a 4:1 ratio.

South Dakota additionally ranks 7th for cattle on feed according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture accounting for 2.4 percent of the national total.

The January, 2014 inventory total of 310,000 is almost 26 percent greater the 2013 January 1 figure and about 16 percent greater than either of the 2011 or 2012 totals.

The Census of Agriculture is the leading source of facts and information about the nation’s agricultural production network. The 2012 Census results are now available online at the USDA Census of Agriculture website.

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