Coyotes lead the pack among predators implicated in cattle death loss, but overall predation remains a small percentage of total death loss.
A new report from the USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) summarizes incidence and causes of death loss in U.S. cattle during 2015. The report, titled Death Loss in U.S. Cattle and Calves Due to Predator and Nonpredator Causes, 2015, shows respiratory disease remains the leading cause of death loss in cattle. Death loss due to predation has increased since the last report in 2010, but remains a relatively low percentage of the total.
The report lists total death loss in 2015 at about 3.9 million head, down slightly from just under 4 million in 2010. The percentage of adult-cattle and calf-crop inventories lost to all causes has been relatively consistent since 2000.
Overall, the report estimates the cost of death loss in cattle and calves in 2015 at $3.87 billion, compared with $2.5 billion in 2010. In 2015, total U.S. inventory of adult cattle (over 500 pounds) was 78 million head, and total calf crop was 34 million head. Those inventory figures are about equal to those reported in 2010. Cattle prices during 2015, however, averaged significantly higher than those in 2010.
Non-predator causes accounted for almost 98 percent of all deaths in adult cattle and almost 89 percent of all deaths in calves. Among non-predator death losses, respiratory problems accounted for the highest percentage at 23.9%, followed by unknown causes at 14% and old age at 11.8%. In the 2010 report, respiratory disease accounted for 28% of non-predator death loss, so the new report shows, perhaps, some improvement in the ongoing battle against BRD.
The percentage of calf deaths attributed to predators in 2015, at 11.1%, was up from 3.5 percent in 1995 and 5.5% in 2010. Coyotes accounted for the highest percentage of cattle deaths due to predators at 40.5%, and the highest percentage of calf deaths due to predators at 53.1%.
During 2015, about one-third of cattle operations had deaths in adult cattle and about 40% had deaths in calves.