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Beef Cattle Statistics

Cattle statistics

Summary

  • People keep about 1,300,000,000 beef cattle worldwide (this excludes dairy cattle) (Table 1).

  • Over half the world's beef cattle live in three countries: India, Brazil and China (Table 1).

  • People kill about 300 million beef cattle annually worldwide (Table 2).

  • Half the world's beef cattle are killed in three countries: India, Brazil and China (Table 2).

  • The total number of beef cattle people kill worldwide is increasing by about four million annually (Table 2).

Cattle

The Number of Cattle People Keep Worldwide

Table 1. Number of Beef Cattle People Keep Worldwide.
Top ten countries & Worldwide, 2003 to 2008.
Figures are in millions.
  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
India 341 339 339 339 339 339
Brazil 206 212 218 226 235 245
China Republic 182 189 195 198 199 202
United States 124 132 133 134 134 134
European Union - 27 125 123 122 120 119 118
Argentina 65 66 65 65 67 67
Australia 37 37 37 38 38 38
Mexico 36 36 35 35 34 34
Russian Federation 32 31 29 27 26 26
Canada 19 20 20 20 19 19
Others 102 98 94 94 92 85
World Total 1,280 1,282 1,288 1,297 1,304 1,307

For the source of these figures see Notes, below.




Cattle

The Number of Cattle People Kill Worldwide

Table 2. Number of Beef Cattle People Kill Worldwide.
Top ten countries & Worldwide, 2003 to 2008.
Figures are in millions.
  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
China 52 54 57 58 60 62
Brazil 45 46 48 52 54 58
India 55 56 56 57 57 57
United State 38 38 38 38 37 37
European Union - 27 33 32 32 30 30 30
Argentina 14 15 15 16 15 15
Australia 9 10 10 10 10 10
Mexico 7 7 8 8 8 8
Russian Federation 9 8 8 8 7 7
Canada 6 5 6 5 5 5
Others 24 23 23 23 23 21
World Total 292 296 301 304 308 312

For the source of these figures see Notes, below.




Cattle

Notes


Notes for Table 1

Table 1 is based on 'Live Cattle Selected Countries Summary'. 'Total Cattle Beginning Stocks' plus 'Production (Calf Crop)' In Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade. United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Office of Global Analysis. Circular Series DL&P 2-07 November 2007. www.fas.usda.gov (web site accessed February 2008).

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) state their data are based on "USDA-FAS attaché reports, official statistics, and results of office research". USDA say the cattle are adults and calves raised for meat and exclude dairy cattle but include buffalo for India. The USDA figures for 2007 are preliminary and are estimates for 2008.

USDA data included two classes of cattle: 'Total Beginning Stocks' and 'Production Crop'. Total Beginning Stocks are the animals alive at the start of the year and most of these animals are used to breed the Production Crop for the year. Virtually all the Production Stock is killed for food (some would replace Beginning Stock). The figures in this table include both categories.

The World Total in this table is a minimum figure. One reason is that the original USDA data do not include every country, although they do include the world's major animal producing countries. Furthermore, the USDA figures are based on cattle who are officially counted (eg at farms and slaughterhouses); cattle slaughtered outside official premises may not be counted. For example, non-walking cattle (ie "non-ambulatory" cattle, too injured to walk) may be killed before they get to the slaughterhouse and not counted. In the US alone, non-walking cattle totalled 465,000 in 2003, including 185,000 calves, and 450,000 in 2004, including 180,000 calves ('calves' in this case are cattle under 230 kg / 500 lbs).

Livestock are impossible to count accurately. Therefore the figures in this table are rounded to the nearest million to avoid spurious accuracy and totals do not necessarily add up exactly.

How reliable are USDA statistics? Much the same number of cattle and the same top ten countries are found in another USDA table (Table 7-5. Cattle and buffalo: Number in specified countries, 2002–2005, Agricultural Statistics, United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2007; web site accessed February 2008.), but the number of cattle is slightly less, totalling around a billion cattle kept annually worldwide. Thus USDA statistics may be acceptably reliable given that the actual number of cattle worldwide cannot be counted accurately.

Notes for Table 2

The figures in Table 2 are based on Live Cattle Selected Countries Summary. Production (Calf Crop). In Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade. United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Office of Global Analysis. Circular Series DL&P 2-07 November 2007. www.fas.usda.gov (web site accessed February 2008).

The notes for Table 1 also apply to this table. Cattle numbers in this table are only the 'Production Crop' (see Notes for Table 1).


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