RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that the state’s cattle and calf inventory as of Jan. 1 was estimated at 1.52 million head. This is according to the Virginia Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Total inventory was up 30,000 head from last year. Cows and heifers that have calved were estimated at 730,000 head, up 10,000 head from the 720,000 for 2016. Beef cow inventory was estimated at 643,000 head and milk cows were estimated at 87,000 head.
“Beef cattle rank No. 2 in Virginia in term of farm cash receipts and dairy ranks No. 3,” said Herman Ellison, Virginia Field office, NASS, “so this is good news for our livestock farmers and agriculture in general.”
Heifers are young female cows that have not had a calf or just had their first calf. Replacement heifers are brought in to replace older cows that cannot be bred again. They are the genetic building block for the cow herd and the farmer hopes that a replacement cow will become a fertile cow that produces a calf annually for a long time.
Heifers 500 pounds and over were estimated at 220,000 head, up 15,000 from last year’s estimate. Beef replacement heifers totaled 112,000 head, up 12,000 from January 2016. Dairy heifers, at 38,000 head, were down 9,000 from 2016. Other heifers, at 70,000 head, were up 12,000 from the previous year. Steers 500 pounds and over numbered 165,000 head, up 5,000 from 2016. Bulls 500 pounds and over were unchanged from a year ago and numbered 40,000 head. Calves less than 500 pounds were estimated at 365,000 head, unchanged from the 2016 estimate. Cattle on feed were estimated at 20,000 head, down 2,000 from the previous year. The 2016 calf crop was estimated at 650,000 head, unchanged from the previous year’s estimate.
Sheep and lamb inventories increased but goat inventories decreased overall in Virginia from last year.
The total number of sheep in Virginia on Jan. 1 was estimated at 80,000 head, up 5,000 from the previous year’s estimate. All breeding sheep and lambs were estimated at 61,000 head and all market sheep and lambs were estimated at 19,000 head. Breeding ewes decreased to 49,000 head, and breeding rams remained at 3,000 head. Replacement lambs numbered 9,000, an increase of 2,000 from 2016. Lamb crop for 2016 remained the same from last year at 58,000 head.
— Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services