WICHITA, Kan. — The National Agricultural Statistics Service says the nation's cattle herd has shrunk to its smallest size in 50 years.
Ranchers in Texas and Oklahoma made the most drastic cuts to their herds amid drought conditions that shriveled pastures and drove hay prices to record levels.
The agency's inventory released Friday counts 90.8 million head of cattle and calves on Jan. 1 in the United States. That is 2 percent below last year.
It's the lowest inventory since 1952, when the nation had 88.1 million head of cattle.
Texas still led the nation with 11.9 million head of cattle and calves but its numbers fell by 11 percent. Cattle numbers plunged 12 percent in Oklahoma.
In Kansas, cattle numbers fell 3 percent to 6.1 million head.