Monday, July 30th 2007 - 21:00 UTC

Uruguay has 3.8 cattle per capita, highest in the world

Uruguay currently has a cattle herd of 12 million head with beef becoming the main export commodity of the country, over a billion US dollars last year. Based on this it can be said that Uruguay is the country with the highest number of cattle per capita, 3.8.

Hereford and Aberdeen Angus the most extended breeds

Official statistics from Uruguay's Agriculture and Livestock ministry indicate that meat and sheep farming is Uruguay occupy 59.6% of the land, 9.875.000 hectares of a total 16.420.000. But the percentage increases to 82.4% when cattle breeding are linked to other farm activities such as dairies, forage and rotation with crops such as rice. Census figures also show that most farms concentrated in beef and wool (78.8%) are a family business with spreads not larger than 500 hectares. But even when they are the more numerous they only occupy 21.9% of the land and own 24.5% of the cattle herd. As to size, of the total number of farms, 38.243 are full cattle breeding; 7.370 a mix of cattle and agriculture, the average is 200 hectares (67% and 79%). But these farms only represent 11 and 10% of the total land. With most farms family managed (25.500 out of 39.120), beef and wool represents the main activity in 65% of them and is also for 65% of them the main source of income. This is followed by vegetable farming, 12%; dairy farming 11%; hogs 2% and poultry 2%. The surge of beef farming in Uruguay has been consolidating for the last ten years with the number of calves born annually jumping from 2 million to 2.5 million. However 54% of the total number of cattle is in the hands of 11% of farmers who have a minimum of 500 head. On the other extreme, 38% of farmers, exploit small lots and have on average cattle herds below a hundred head.

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