Census Roundup: Dairy Consolidates, Beef and Pig Operations Grow

Livestock continued to show a strong presence on U.S. farms and ranches, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Livestock production in 2017 totaled $195 billion, up 7% from 2012.

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Interestingly, more than any other age group, young producers are the primary decision-makers for livestock operations.

Here’s a brief look at each category, with additional links to full coverage from each of our brand partners:

Drovers: Beef Cattle 

The number of U.S. beef cow operations increased slightly in the five-year period between 2012 and 2017, with an addition of 1,140 operations to total 31.722 million beef cows in 2017.

The slight increase in the number of cow operations since 2012, contrasts with the 19% overall decline in cow outfits in the past 20 years. Since the 1997 census, the number of cow operations has been reduced 170,710.

Despite that overall 20-year decline, there was growth in each herd size category above 50 cows. Operations with 50-99 cows increased 11%; 100-499 cows, 13%; 500-999 cows, 7%; and more than 1,000 cows, 8%.

Read more: Ag Census: Beef Cow Operations Increase

Dairy Herd Management: Dairy Cattle

The dairy industry continues its relentless march toward consolidation, with 54,599 farms reported in 2017, which is down from the 64,098 farms in 2012.

Herds with 500 or more cows represent just 8.8% of all herds with milk sales but 68.1% of total milk sales.

Read more: Census Confirms Sharp Spike in Dairy Consolidation

Farm Journal’s PORK: Hogs & Pigs

Not only are the numbers of hogs produced in the U.S. growing, so are the number of hog operations, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture released on April 11.

The 1935 Ag Census said 3.9 million U.S. farms raised hogs. Each subsequent census has found fewer farms with hogs until now.

The number of farms with hogs and pigs in 2017 was 66,439, which is up from the 63,246 farms in 2012.

Read more: U.S. Hog Farms Increase For First Time Since 1935


Want to learn more about the data and trends from the 2017 Census of Agriculture? Visit




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