Beef cattle outnumber people in South Dakota by more than a 4 to 1 ratio.With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that South Dakota cattlemen and cattle feeders continue to keep their stake among national leaders in beef production.

This is despite the challenges presented by the drought of 2012, Storm Atlas and escalating feed and land costs.

With a calf crop inventory of 1.69 million head as of January 1, 2013, South Dakota ranked fourth among the nation's leading cattle states. Jim Krantz, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, tells us:

The State's cow herd and their offspring accounted for almost 23 percent of its agricultural gross receipts. That total represents an eighth place ranking among all states.

When reviewing cow numbers by themselves, 1.635 million head total ranks South Dakota fifth nationally behind Texas, which is ranked first with more than 4 million cows;  Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska comprise the remaining states in the top-five in beef cow numbers.