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U.S. Cattle Herd Shrinks to Smallest in 53 Years

The U.S. cattle herd shrank to the smallest size in 53 years as of Jan. 1, as feed costs climbed and beef producers slaughtered more animals to take advantage of higher prices.

The herd, including beef and dairy animals, totaled 92.582 million head as the year began, down 1.4 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a semiannual report. That’s the smallest since 1958, the USDA said. Seven analysts in a Bloomberg News survey were expecting a 1.6 percent reduction, on average.