There are 97.1 million total head of cattle in the U.S. as of January 1, 2006. That is an increase of 1.78 percent over the 2005 value, and an increase of 2.33 percent over the 2004 value. The January 1, 2004 value marked the end of the prior cattle cycle and the start of a new cycle. The total number of beef cows that have calved is now at 33.3 million head, an increase of one percent over 2005. This marks the second year of herd growth and it appears that growth will continue in 2006; beef replacement heifers were at 5.9 million head, a 4 percent increase over the prior year. That is the most beef heifers held for replacements since 1997.
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