A famous TV commercial once asked, “Where’s the beef?” As many of us become more invested in knowing where our food is produced, we may start asking instead, “Where does the beef come from?” For example, which U.S. state raises the most cattle? Texas has the most cattle of any state, with nearly twice as many heads raised as the next closest state.

In this article, we’ll learn just how many cattle are in Texas anyway as well as some facts about the cattle industry in America overall.

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How Many Cattle Are In Texas?

Lowline angus cows grazing
Image Credit: pen_ash, Pixabay

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Texas had approximately 13.1 million head of cattle as of January 1, 2021. Texas cattle farmers raised about twice as many cows as the next highest state, Nebraska. Here are the top 5 states for the number of cattle in the U.S. as of January 1, 2021:

Texas13.1 million cattle
Nebraska6.85 million cattle
Kansas6.5 million cattle
Oklahoma5.3 million cattle
California5.15 million cattle

In 2017, when the last agricultural census was conducted, Texas also had the most farms and ranches of any state in America. Texas’ 248,416 farms and ranches take up 127 million acres of land. The majority of those acres are devoted to raising cattle.

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The Cattle Industry At a Glance

cow farm
Image Credit: RitaE, Pixabay

In the U.S., cattle production is the largest and most important of all the agricultural industries. In 2021, U.S. agriculture is predicted to make about $391 billion and cattle will make up about 17% of that amount.

The United States was the third-largest beef export country in the world in 2020. Americans also eat more beef in total than anyone else in the world.

The top 5 countries who bought U.S. beef exported in the first half of 2021 were:

  1. Korea
  2. Japan
  3. Hong Kong/China
  4. Mexico
  5. Canada
Fun Facts About The Cattle Industry In America
  • Cattle are raised in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • South Dakota has the most cows per person of any state, about 4.5 cows per 1 person.
  • Americans ate an average of 83 pounds of beef per person in 2020
  • Black Angus is the most common beef cattle breed in the U.S.

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Since Texas is known as the Longhorn State, it’s probably no surprise that the state nicknamed for a cow is the one that raises the most cattle. As one of the most important states in the most important agricultural industry in America, Texas plays a major role in keeping the country and the world supplied with steak and hamburgers.

Although Americans continue to eat large amounts of beef, recent health studies suggest that eating too much red meat can lead to increased risks of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Between these health risks and concerns over how cattle production contributes to global warming, it’s unclear how the future of the cattle industry will look, but for now, the cows of Texas are on top.

Featured Image Credit: Studio Peace, Shutterstock