We've all heard there are more hogs than humans here in Iowa. But what about cows? My father-in-law is a farmer. He does grow crops, but steers (beef) is his main gig. At any given time, he'll have somewhere around 2,000 head of cattle. On his farm, there are only four employees. So, with that huge ratio of steers to people in mind, it got me wondering, do cattle outnumber humans in the Hawkeye State? So, I investigated, and here's what I found:

Iowa indeed has a lotta cattle

So first off, cattle is any type of bovine. Cow, steer bull, and all different breeds within. Next, to do my research, I went to a few trusted sources - the website US News, which always cites sources, and I sourced info from a Vox article from a couple of years back. What I learned is the short answer is, indeed, yes there are more cattle than people in Iowa. Buuut, it's kind of close.

In the most recent population study done for Iowa, our population was 3.155 million. Our cattle population is roughly 3.890 million. Hence, the cows win somewhere in the ballpark of 700,000.

So it's that simple?


The only real issue with this is simple math is, with most cattle, especially feeder ones, the population fluctuates... a lot. A farmer may send a large number off to be slaughtered one day, but receive a shipment of more the next day. Also, there are plenty of Iowa farmers that raise cattle and then ship 'em off to a farmer somewhere out of state. What I'm getting at is, there may be more cattle than people, but their population changes a LOT more than the human population. So on any given day, the number of people vs. cattle could be a bit closer, or more distant. It just depends.

There are 8 other states with more cattle than humans:

  • Oklahoma
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Wyoming
  • North Dakota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota

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