The Top 6 States That Produce the Most Beef and Cattle

The top producer of beef in the world is the United States. Cattle production made for around 17% of all agricultural commodities valued in the nation in 2023. What states, though, have the most cattle? Discover which six states produce the most cattle and meat by continuing to read.

1. Kansas – 1.3 million

1.32 million beef cattle are raised by ranchers in Kansas, and they graze on more than 15 million acres of pasture. The largest agricultural industry in Kansas is the beef industry, which generates over $6 billion in revenue and employs over 34,000 people. Furthermore, Kansas ranks second in the US in 2021 for cattle processing, making it a top state in this area.

2. South Dakota – 1.6 million

Farmers in South Dakota breed cattle on farms all around the state, although the state’s dairy farms and crop growers are concentrated in particular areas. Approximately 1.61 million beef cattle, or 5.3% of the nation’s total beef cow inventory, are found in South Dakota.

The production of beef contributes more than $1 billion to South Dakota’s economy annually, which is mostly driven by the state’s agricultural sector. The state’s agriculture industry includes hog farms, chicken farms, and beef production facilities.

3. Nebraska – 1.7 million

Nebraska is unquestionably one of the states that produces the most beef, at 1.7 million head. Nebraska welcomes about five million beef cattle annually to be finished and packed for sale in addition to the cows that are grown there.

The top three counties in the United States for producing beef are all in Nebraska. The greatest number of beef cows in a county in the United States, 166,000, are found in Cherry County, which is situated in northern Nebraska. 91% of Nebraska’s land area is made up of farms and ranches. Notable in its own right is the state’s 40% maize crop, which is used to feed the state’s livestock.

4. Missouri – 1.9 million

With almost 1.9 million beef cattle, Missouri is the third-largest beef-producing state in the nation. In addition to generating approximately 40,000 jobs, the cattle business boosts the state’s economy by more than $1.6 billion.

Ranchers in Missouri raise numerous premium varieties of cattle, such as Hereford, Shorthorn, and Charolais, because of the state’s rich soil, large pastures, and pleasant climate. Farmers in the state are now able to export certified embryos in addition to cattle thanks to the establishment of a dedicated export facility in St. Louis.

5. Oklahoma – 1.9 million

Oklahoma is the second-most productive state in the US for beef cattle production, with more cattle than people. Approximately two million cattle are farmed on farms mostly owned by families and individuals throughout the state.

The origins of Oklahoma’s current cattle sector can be found in the early 1800s, when Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribe members were forcibly moved from the southeastern states to the region surrounding Oklahoma. Livestock herds, introduced by the Five Tribes, flourished on the wide, grassy plains.

Ranchers have concentrated on enhancing cow breeds for sustainability and health since the turn of the 20th century. A new breed of cow that originated in Oklahoma was recognised by the US Department of Agriculture in 1949. The Brangus breed, a mix between an Angus and a Brahman cow, was created by a farmer.

6. Texas – 12 million

With around 12 million head of cattle, including four million beef cattle, Texas is the top producer of beef in the United States. With a value exceeding $12 billion, cattle comprise more than half of the state’s agricultural commodities in Texas.

Spanish colonists introduced cattle driving to the region some 300 years ago, and their impact may be seen in many of the terms and instruments being used in the cattle sector today. During the “Texas cattle drive era,” which began after the Civil War, the state’s cattle business experienced rapid expansion. Approximately 10 million Texas Longhorn cows were killed between 1865 and 1868 so they could be sold in East Coast markets.

Cattle ranching is still a significant aspect of Texas culture and economy today. Every day, a herd of Texas Longhorns is used by cowhands at the Forth Worth Stockyards to reenact a historical cattle drive. Meanwhile, football supporters from the University of Texas in Austin support the Longhorns throughout the state.

Highlights of States That Produce the Most Beef:

State No. of Cows
Texas 12 million
Oklahoma 1.9 million
Missouri 1.9 million
Nebraska 1.7 million
South Dakota 1.6 million
Kansas 1.3 million