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.
Cattle futures climbed 26 percent in the past year, reaching a record $1.166 a pound on Jan. 18. Still, surging prices for corn, the main ingredient in livestock feed, discouraged expansion. The grain has jumped 78 percent in the past year.