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Report: SD remains a key player in cattle industry

Beef cattle outnumber people in South Dakota by more than a 4 to 1 ratio.

South Dakota cattlemen and cattle feeders continue as national leaders in beef production despite the challenges presented by the drought of 2012, Winter Storm Atlas and escalating feed and land costs.

This status was verified with the release of the USDA South Dakota census of agriculture, explained Jim Krantz, South Dakota State University Extension specialist.

With a calf crop inventory of 1.69 million head as of Jan. 1, 2013, South Dakota ranked fourth among the nation's leading cattle states. Krantz said that number is slightly less than the 2012 total of more than 1.7 million but is the largest total since 2008.

"The state's cow herd and their offspring accounted for almost 23 percent of its agricultural gross receipts," Krantz said.

When reviewing cow numbers by themselves, the Jan. 1 beef cow inventory total stood at 1.635 million, down slightly from the 2013 inventory number but still about 1.5 percent above the 2012 mark.

That 1.635 million head total still ranks South Dakota fifth nationally behind Texas, which is ranked first with more than 4 million cows; Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska comprise the remaining states in the top-five in beef cow numbers.

South Dakota also ranks seventh for cattle on feed, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, accounting for 2.4 percent of the national total.