August 14, 2002 | By: Laura Skillman

With livestock enterprises accounting for nearly 60 percent of the state’s total farm cash receipts and forages covering nearly 7 million acres, these enterprises play a key role in the state’s economy.

Kentucky’s equine industry leads the state in cash farm receipts with more than  $1 billion in 2000, according to agricultural economists at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Beef cattle are also a key component in the state’s farm income. Kentucky is the largest cattle producing state east of the Mississippi River and eighth largest in the country. Kentucky’s beef cattle number approximately 1.075 million with another 125,000 dairy cattle.

In 2000, cattle sales totaled $541 million, according to the Kentucky Agricultural Statistics Service. Sales of dairy products accounted for $229 million.

Generally, economists estimate that these farm dollars generate 2.5 times as much in other income such things as wages, veterinary expenses, equipment sales and trucking.

Forages make up as much as 90 percent of the diet of certain livestock in the state. Forage producers grow not only for their own livestock but many also sell forage as a cash crop. The total value of hay in Kentucky was $494 million in 2000, according to the Statistics Service.