The United States is the world's largest producer of beef, primarily high-quality, grain-fed beef.
Beef farms and ranches represent over 30% of U.S. farms, making up the single largest U.S. agricultural sector. The U.S. beef industry is roughly divided into two sectors: cow-calf operations and cattle feeding. The focus of the cow-calf operation is to maintain a herd of beef cattle to raise calves. The cattle feeding sector focuses on preparing cattle for various means of production.
Beef cattle are raised in all 50 U.S. states. As of January 2021, there are 31,157,600 beef cows in the United States. This is down 1% from one year ago. Texas has the most beef cows, followed by Oklahoma, Missouri, and Nebraska.
Number of Beef Cows by State
The number of cattle in every state is a good indicator of how much beef each state produces. Seven states have over 1 million beef cows in 2021.
The ten states with the highest number of beef cows are:
- Texas - 4,685,000
- Oklahoma - 2,189,000
- Missouri - 2,035,000
- Nebraska - 1,900,000
- South Dakota - 1,799,000
- Kansas - 1,447,000
- Montana - 1,419,000
- Kentucky - 983,000
- North Dakota - 975,000
- Florida - 929,000
Together, these states have 18,391,000 beef cows, comprising 59.02% of the United States's total beef cows. This means that the remaining 40 states make up 40.98%.
Rhode Island has the fewest cows with 1,000, followed by Delaware with 1,800 and New Hampshire with 4,500. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Alaska, and New Jersey all have fewer than 10,000 cows. Together, these seven states have only 35,200 beef cows and make up just 0.11% of the country's total cows.