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USA has smallest beef herd in 60 years

Drought, high feed costs led to record culling of cattle in 2022

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Several consecutive years of drought have prompted ranchers to reduce the number of cattle they run on their ranches and summer pastures which has let to the smallest beef herd in the US in the past 60 years. Pioneer file photo by Mark Watson

EDITOR’S NOTE: South Dakota has more than three times as many cattle as people, with an estimated human population of around 914,000. Nine states — Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming — have more cows than people, and South Dakota has the highest ratio of cows to humans. May is National Beef Month, and it’s also celebrated in South Dakota. Gov. Kristi Noem signed a proclamation on April 26 designating the month. The Hamlin County farmer and rancher also told an assembled group of South Dakota Junior Beef Ambassadors that all South Dakotans are required to eat a double cheeseburger every day in May.

The Black Hills Pioneer won’t hold you to that beefy standard, but we have prepared a menu of meaty stories on the beef cattle industry. This is the first of a three-part series

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Local ranchers are hopeful that feed prices will stabilize allowing producers to rebuild their herds. Pioneer file photo by Mark Watson

USA has smallest beef herd in 60 years

Warren Rusche

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