WICHITA, Kan. -- Texas, the nation's largest cattle producer, saw its herd shrink 5 percent to 11.3 million head in the past year as the region was hit by a multiyear drought, a new report said Friday.The drought that scorched the Southern Plains last summer helped shrink the nation's herd to its smallest size in more than six decades and encouraged the movement of animals to lush fields in the northern and western U.S., a new report shows.The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that the U.S. inventory of cattle and calves totaled 89.3 million as of Jan. 1. That was down by 1.5 million cattle, or 2 percent, from this time a year ago.The agency says this is the lowest January cattle inventory since 1952.It does two counts per year, in January and July. The January report had been eagerly awaited because it shows the impact of the drought as it spread across the nation last summer and provides a state-by-state breakdown documenting the shift of animals north.Nebraska's herd shrank 2 percent to 6.3 million as the drought spread north this summer. In Kansas, also hit hard, the number of cattle shrank 4 percent to 5.8 million as ranchers sold off animals when pastures dried up and the price of hay skyrocketed.By contrast, North Dakota ranchers expanded their herds by 6 percent to nearly 1.8 million, while South Dakota's cattle numbers grew 5 percent to 3.8 million. Montana, Idaho and Washington also boosted their herds.Glynn Tonsor, a Kansas livestock extension specialist, said the shift away from drought-stricken areas makes sense."It doesn't surprise me that the Southern Plains continue to have a pullback in the number of cows, and it doesn't surprise me that the Northern Plains has been increasing," he said.The northern growth didn't make up for losses elsewhere, however, and the repercussions are being felt in the meatpacking industry. Cargill Beef, one of the nation's largest processors, announced in January that it will idle its slaughterhouse in Plainview and lay off all 2,000 employees because there's less work.For consumers, fewer cows will mean less beef and higher prices down the line, particularly as overseas demand increases, Tonsor said.Among those already feeling the pain is Kansas rancher Nathan Pike, who has sold off 600 cows the past couple of years. With just 130 pregnant cows left, he considered trying to buy back a few animals this winter in the hope of better weather next spring. But cows cost significantly more now than when he sold his animals because fewer are left."We are gambling," said Pike, 80. "We are just trying to figure out a way to make a living."