India is on track to comfortably hold the mantle of the world’s largest bovine herd, with a forecast 327.1 million head of cattle and buffalo in 2013.
This is according to statistics cited by Meat & Livestock Australia from the April 2013 Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade report released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
That represents a 1pc year on year increase for the Indian bovine herd.
Brazil securely remains in second position, with the 2013 herd forecast to increase 3pc on 2012, to 203.3 million head, underpinned by genetic improvements, better pasture management and sustained cattle prices.
China's 104.2 million head prediction for 2013 is steady with 2012, while the persistent drought gripping the US is likely to drive further liquidation, with the US herd forecast to decline 2pc year-on-year, to 89.3 million head.
According to the USDA, the countries rounding out the top ten are the EU-27 (85.7 million head), Argentina (51.2 million head), Colombia (30.6 million head), Australia (29.9 million head), Russia (19.5 million head) and Mexico (18.5 million head).
MLA says it is interesting to note that the size of the calf crop in some of the countries with the largest herds are extremely low, with the Indian calf crop, for example, forecast to be only 20pc of the total herd, at 64.3 million head. Similarly, Brazil's calf crop is forecast at 25pc of the total, at 50.2 million head.
In contrast, while the US calf crop is predicted down 1pc year-on-year, at 33.8 million head, calves are likely to contribute to 38% of the total herd, while the number of calves born in China is forecast to increase to 41.6 million head in 2013, making 40pc of the total.
The Australian calf estimate for 2013 is 33pc of overall numbers, at 9.8 million head.