The average American consumes more than 80 pounds of beef per year, and with a population of more than 300 million people, it may not be that surprising to learn that of the billion cows in the world, 94 million cattle reside in the US. What’s more surprising is that this means the US only ranks fourth in the list of countries with the most cattle population. More than half of the world’s cattle population lives in India and Brazil.


Total Cows In The US – 94 million

There are 94 million cows in the US, which equates to around one cow for every three people. This is approximately the same as it was ten years ago, but considerably fewer than the 104 million cows in the country in 1996.

british red poll cows
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Beef Cows – 31 million

Beef cattle are cows that are raised primarily for their meat production, although parts of the cattle are also used for making leather, food, and other commercial products. Beef cows are raised to be fattened up and sold, or slaughtered, as soon as possible. Common beef cow breeds include:

  • Black Angus
  • Charolais
  • Hereford
  • Holstein

There are 31 million beef cows in the US, although it is worth noting that dual-purpose cows, which are those that are raised for their milk production and their meat, are classified as beef cows, so the number of true beef cattle would be smaller.

Hereford Cattle in the fields
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Dairy Cows – 10 million

Dairy cows are reared for milk production. The milk may be sold as milk or processed to make cheese, butter, and other dairy products. Popular breeds are those that have a high yield of milk and that will produce milk for an extended period of their lives. The most commonly found dairy cow breeds are:

  • Holstein
  • Jersey
  • Brown Swiss

The Holsten actually makes up around 90% of the 10 million dairy cows in the US. It is popular because a single Holstein can produce nearly 10 gallons of milk per day. Jerseys are smaller, however, which makes them more popular with small-scale farmers and those with restricted space.

milking cow
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Other Cows – 53 million

More than 55% of the US cattle population is made up of bulls that are used for breeding, heifers that are being prepared for breeding, and calves that are still too young to be used for meat or dairy.

What State Has the Most Cows?

The country’s second-largest state, Texas, has the largest number of cows with a total population of 12,5 million, or roughly 13% of the country’s total. It is the second-largest state, in terms of area, behind Alaska and it has favorable conditions for breeds like the Texas Longhorn, which is native to the area, and the Angus, which is a large breed with a considerable meat yield.

Nebraska and Kansas are the second and third largest states, in terms of cow population, with 6.8 million and 6.3 million cattle heads respectively.

Montbeliarde cows
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Which Country Has the Most Cows?

The US is the world’s fourth-largest producer of cows just behind China, which has a total of 96 million cattle. Brazil and China are the countries with the most cattle, with 252 and 305 million respectively. Brazil and China together account for approximately two-thirds of the world’s population of cattle: even more surprising considering the average beef consumption in India is just 4 pounds of beef per person. Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu nation, but there is considerable demand for their milk, as well as leather and other products.

The History of Cows as Livestock

DNA testing has shown that cattle derive from wild ox and that the first domestication occurred approximately 10,000 years ago in Turkey and Syria. As well as being kept for meat and milk, it was used as a bartering currency, enabling early farmers to trade for goods and services that they were unable to produce themselves.

Today, we still use cattle for meat and the production of dairy products as well as leather and other items.

Cow standing in the grassy field
Image Credit: AnitaBozic, Pixabay


How Many Cows Are There in The US?

The US is the world’s fourth-largest keeper of cows with a population of nearly 100 million and behind China, Brazil, and India on the global table. Texas is the US state with the most cattle and while the Holstein is the most popular dairy breed, the Black Angus is the most popular beef cow.

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels