Cattle in the 2012 Agricultural Census

Gordon Groover, Extension Economist, Farm Management, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

The 2012 Agricultural Census contains a wealth of information for all sectors of U.S. and  Virginia agriculture. One of Virginia’s most widely dispersed commodities in Virginia is the cattle herd, found from the Alleghany Mountains to the Tidewater.

Table 1 present a statewide comparison of the herd from 2007 to the 2012.  The number of Virginia farms that reported a cattle inventory in 2012 fell 8% from 25,957 to 23,911 head, yet the reported inventory of cattle and calves on Virginia farm increased 4% from 1,566,217 to 1,631,882 head.  The average herd size for the reported inventory increased from 60 to 68 head an increase of approximately 13%.  

Table 1: Description of VA Cattle Herd

Items

2012

2007

% Change 2007-12

Number of farms with all cattle and calves

23,911

25,957

-8%

Inventory of all cattle and calves

1,631,882

1,566,217

4%

Average herd size of reported cattle and calves

68

60

13%

Table 2 provides some insights on the decline (8%) in Virginia cattle farms. The primary reason was the 13% decline in number of farmers reporting cattle herds of less than 49 head. These farmers either didn’t continue their cattle enterprise and/or reduced the total number of cattle by 10%.  Farms that were included in two larger groups, 50-99 and 100-199 head, saw a marginal increase in both the number of farms and cattle (Table 2).  The biggest change occurred on farms with 200-499 head with the number of farm increasing 19% and an increase in cattle of 18% or an increase of 67,568 head since 2007. The largest farms (>500 head) saw moderate increases in numbers of farms (5%) and cattle (8%), with a gain of 23,936 head.  Overall the average herd size reported in Table 2 did not change noticeably from 2007 to 2012 with the exception of farms with more than 500 head, where the average increased by 21 head from 825 to 846 head. 

Table 2: Description of VA Cattle Herd by Size Categories

Description by Size Categories

1-49 Head (sum of smaller categories)

2012

2007

% Change 2007-12

# of Farms 

15,993

18,374

-13%

Inventory Head

297,478

332,173

-10%

Ave herd size

19

18

 

50-99 Head

 

 

 

 

# of Farms 

3,749

3,714

1%

Inventory Head

258,550

257,050

1%

Average herd size

69

69

 

100-199 Head

 

 

 

 

# of Farms 

2,297

2,254

2%

Inventory Head

311,132

303,776

2%

Average herd size

 135

 135

 

200-499 Head

 

 

 

 

# of Farms 

 1,483

 1,245

19%

Inventory Head

 435,574

 368,006

18%

Average herd size

 294

 296

 

> 500 Head

 

 

 

 

# of Farms 

 389

 370

5%

Inventory Head

 329,148

 305,212

8%

Average herd size

 846

 825

 

For cattle on feed (Table 3), both the number of cattle and the farms reporting cattle on feed declined by double digits from 2007 to 2012.  There were 251 (-43%) fewer farms with cattle on feed and 8,273 (-29%) fewer head fed. However, the farms remaining in the sector had a larger average capacity increasing from 49 to 61 head.

 Table 3: Cattle on Feed

 Item

2012

2007

% Change 2007-12

# of Farms 

328

579

-43%

Inventory Head

20,010

28,283

-29%

Average number of cattle on feed head

61

49

 

 Virginia farms reporting cattle sales (Table 4) declined by 8% and the number of head sold also decreased by 4%.  However, the total value of those sales increased by 23%, reflecting the higher overall prices for cattle in 2012. The average sales value per animal and the numbers sold per farm increased.    

 Table 4: Cattle Sales (cattle and calves)

 Item

2012

2007

% Change 2007-12

# of Farms 

20,091

21,884

-8%

Inventory Head

845,381

880,607

-4%

Total Sales in $1,000

$707,976

$574,506

23%

Average value per head

$837

$652

 

Average number of cattle sold

42

40

 

The Ag Census reports from a much broader base of farmers classified as dairy than what is reported by Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Service which are based on farms holding permits to sell Grade A milk. However, the Census numbers provide a snapshot of all farms that self-report dairy activities. The number of farms (Table 5) that report milk cows or heifers that have calved increased by 14 (1%) farms, while the total inventory of cows and heifers decreased by 5% or 4,812 head.   This inventory decline led to a decrease in the average herd size from 86 to 81 head.  Information on milk sales was not reported in the 2007 Census. The 2012 Census reported milk sales of $347,204,000 for the state, averaging $471,104 per farm and  $5,847 per head.    

Table 5: Dairy Cattle (Cows and heifers that calved) and Milk Sales

Item

2012

2007

% Change 2007-12

# of Farms 

1,168

1,154

1%

Inventory Head

94,105

98,917

-5%

Average number of Head

81

86

-6%

# of Farm reporting sales

737

n/a

 

Milk Sales $

$347,204,00

n/a

 

Average Milk Sales per Farm $

$471,104

n/a

 

Average Milk Sales per Cow $

$5,847

n/a

 

New to the 2012 Ag Census is Table 44 Farms by Concentration of Market Value of Agricultural Products Sold in 2012. Listed in Table 6 below are concentration information for cattle and dairy farms.  This table shows only 5 of the 23,911 cattle farms and 14,177 head of the 1,631,882 cows in Virginia account for 10% of all market value of cattle sold during 2012. To reach 25% requires 69 farms (64,643 cows) and so on.  Dairy production shows similar levels of concentration with only 3 of the 1,168 farms and 6,974 cows and heifers in Virginia to achieve 10% of sales milk sold in 2012.  These results show that overall a small number of our farms produces a majority of the market value of livestock products in Virginia.

Table 6: Farms by Concentration of Market Value of Agricultural Products Sold in 2012

Items

 

Fewest number of farms accounting for:

 

Virginia Totals

10% of sales

25% of sales

50% of sales

75% of sales

Number of farms with all cattle and calves

23,911

5

69

379

1,295

Inventory of all cattle and calves

1,631,882

14,177

64,643

160,666

430,409

Number of farms with milk cows

1,168

3

28

113

411

Inventory of all milk cows

94,105

6,974

18,243

38,130

75,662

To explore additional details about, U.S., Virginia and/or individual counties visit the USDA  2012 Ag Census web site at http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/.

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