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Ron Plain: Cattle on Feed February 2012

28 February 2012
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

US - USDA’s February cattle on feed report had no big surprises. USDA said January placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 2.2% lower than in January 2011. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for January placements to be down 1.2%, reports Ron Plain.

USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during January totaled 1.816 million head, up 2.4% compared to January 2011. The trade forecast January marketings to be up 0.3%. Steer and heifer slaughter during January was down 1.9%. Over the last 12 months, fed marketings have averaged up 2.6% compared to a year earlier, but steer and heifer slaughter averaged down 1.6%. Why the difference?

These monthly surveys only cover feedlots with a capacity of a thousand head or more. They are gaining market share while smaller feed yards are losing share. Consequently, the monthly cattle on feed data do not represent well what is happening to total cattle feeding.

The number of cattle on feed in large feedlots at the start of February was up 2.1% compared to February 2011. The pre-release survey of forecasts predicted an increase of 2.5%. The number of cattle on feed has been above the year-earlier level for each of the last 21 months. The February inventory is the highest on-feed number for any February since 2008.

The number of cattle placed on feed weighing less than 600 pounds was down 3.3% from the previous January. Placements of feeders weighing 600 to 700 pounds were down 9.5%; placements weighing 700 to 800 pounds were down 3.5%, and placements weighing more than 800 pounds were up 9.0% compared to a year earlier. The calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during January was 0.8% higher than in January 2011.

The average retail price for choice beef during January, $5.093 per pound, was up 7.7 cents from December, up 55.1 cents from January 2010, and record high for the sixth month in a row. Slaughter steer prices averaged $123.10/cwt in January, the second highest month ever.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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