The U.S. cattle herd continues to expand, growing 2 percent last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) January cattle inventory report. There were 93.6 million head of cattle and calves in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, up from 91.9 million head from the previous year.

Iowa’s cattle inventory on Jan. 1 was 3.85 million head, down 3 percent from a year ago.

The numbers suggest the U.S. herd will continue to grow more than analysts expected this year, said USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam.

"Barring something really un­­foreseen, we will be seeing the herd expanding moving forward," Shagam said.

The expansion continues despite a...