Little change in annual livestock number counts

Ray Mueller

MADISON – Livestock numbers posted small gains in several categories during 2016 in Wisconsin, according to the annual report tabulated by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

For all dairy and beef cattle in the state, the January 1, 2017 total of 3.55 million head was an increase of 50,000 from a year earlier. Wisconsin's record high of 4.64 million cattle and calves was recorded in 1975.

The increases during 2017 came in four categories — 20,000 more beef cows for a total of 290,000, a gain of 30,000 calves under 500 pounds for a total of 710,000, an increase of 20,000 steers over 500 pounds to a total of 400,000 and an uptick of 5,000 to 50,000 in heifers other than those designated for milk or beef cow replacements.

Lactating dairy cow totals held at 1.28 million, heifers at over 500 pounds were down by 20,000 head to 840,000, bulls at over 500 pounds remained at 30,000, and the number of cattle on feed for slaughter market sale was down by 5,000 to 270,000 head. The state's calf crop for dairy and beef was up by 40,000 to 1.42 million in 2016.

For the United States, the Jan. 1 total of 93.585 million cattle and calves was an increase of 1.667 million head from a year earlier. Milk cow numbers were up by 39,000 to 9.349 million head and the cattle on feed total was down by 90,000 to 13.067 million.

Dairy goat statistics

Wiscosin reported 44,000 head of dairy goats.

Despite the opening of two new and large dairy goat operations in Calumet County during 2016, Wisconsin's total for Jan. 1, 2017 was reported as the same number as a year earlier: 44,000 head. The state's highest total for dairy goats was 50,000 in 2011.

Wisconsin continued to have the most dairy goats for any state, followed by the 41,000 head in California, which gained 2,000 during 2016. Other state totals for Jan. 1 were 33,000 in Iowa (down by 2,500), Texas with 22,000 (no change) and 12,000 in Minnesota (down by 1,500). The national total was unchanged at 373,000 head.

Led by Texas with 790,000 head, the nation's inventory of meat and other goats on Jan. 1 was 2.115 million head. Totals for other states include 110,000 in Tennessee and 87,000 in California. No number was reported for Wisconsin.

Sheep and lambs

The total for sheep and lambs held at 76,000 in Wisconsin during 2016. The reported number of ewes was down by 1,000 to 48,000 and the ram total was up by 1,000 to 3,000 in the rounded reporting of the numbers. Replacement lamb numbers remained at 12,000 and the market lamb total held at 13,000 head.

Other statistics for 2016 were lamb crop of 60,000, a total of 51,000 shorn sheep for 340,000 pounds of wool worth 70 cents a pound for a sales value of $238,000 — down from $274,000 in 2015.

For the United States, the sheep and lamb inventory was down by 100,000 during 2016 to a total of 5.2 million on Jan. 1. Ewe numbers were down by 70,000 to 3.035 million, rams were down by 5,000 to 170,000 and replacement lambs were down by 15,000 to 650,000. The year's lamb crop was down by 25,000 to 3.25 million.

The nation's 3.56 million shorn sheep produced 25.74 million pounds of wool selling at $1.45 per pound for a total value of $37.214 million — down from the $39.205 million in 2015.