Sectors of Missouri's livestock industry are rebuilding. After years of drought and high feed costs, the cattle sheep and meat goat industries rebounded in 2013.
According to the Jan. 1 inventory report from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the state cattle numbers were up 4% above last year totaling 3.8 million head. Beef cattle producers were retaining heifers in an effort to rebuild the herd. The number of beef cow heifers held for replacement was up 5% to 305,000. The regrowth came from a strong signal in cattle prices, as well as, a decline in grain prices.
Sheep producers started 2014 with 78,000 head, an increase in 4% from this same time last year. Breeding sheep inventory rose to 67,000 head, up 2% from 2013. Recent lamb prices are helping spur on growth. With the lambing season in full swing, it will be interesting to see total lamb crop numbers for 2014 as producers began to rebuild operations plagued by drought and high feed costs. In 2013, the lamb crop was at 70,000 head, up 3% from 2012.
Meat goat producers also saw an improvement in numbers. Meat goat inventory grew to 84,200 head to start 2014. The meat goat is the fastest growing sector of the goat industry, with angora and milk goats losing numbers in 2013.