South Dakota remains a key player in nation’s cattle industry |

South Dakota remains a key player in nation’s cattle industry

Beef cattle outnumber people in South Dakota by more than a four to one ratio. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that South Dakota cattlemen and cattle feeders continue to keep their stake among national leaders in beef production despite the challenges presented by the drought of 2012, Storm Atlas and escalating feed and land costs.

This status was verified with the release of the USDA South Dakota census of agriculture, said Jim Krantz, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist.

With a calf crop inventory of 1.69 million head as of Jan. 1, 2013, South Dakota ranked fourth among the nation's leading cattle states. Krantz said that although that number is slightly less than the 2012 total of more than 1.7 million, it is still the largest total since 2008.

"The state's cow herd and their offspring accounted for almost 23 percent of its agricultural gross receipts," Krantz said. "That total represents an eighth place ranking among all states," he said.

When reviewing cow numbers by themselves, the Jan. 1, 2014 beef cow inventory total stood at 1.635 million, 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 fifth nationally behind Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Texas is ranked first with more than 4 million cows.

South Dakota also ranks seventh 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 than the Jan. 1, 2013 figure and about 16 percent greater than either of the 2011 or 2012 totals," Krantz said.

Recommended Stories For You

The Census of Agriculture is the leading source of facts and information about the nation's agricultural production network. To view these results visit

–SDSU Extension