U.S. Cattle on Feed Up Slightly

US - This Cattle On Feed report by USDA NASS, contains the monthly total number of cattle and calves on feed, placements, marketings, and other disappearances; by class and feedlot capacity for selected states; number of feedlots and fed cattle marketings by size groups for selected states.
calendar icon 22 April 2008
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National Agricultural Statistics Service

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.7 million head on April 1, 2008. The inventory was slightly above April 1, 2007 but 1 percent below April 1, 2006. This is the second highest April 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. The inventory included 7.35 million steers and steer calves, down 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 63 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.28 million head, up 3 percent from 2007.

Placements in feedlots during March totaled 1.74 million, 11 percent below 2007 and 5 percent below 2006. Net placements were 1.67 million head. This is the second lowest placements for the month of March since the series began in 1996. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 335,000, 600-699 pounds were 330,000, 700-799 pounds were 561,000 and 800 pounds and greater were 510,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 1.84 million, slightly below 2007 and 6 percent below 2006.

Other disappearance totaled 63,000 during March, 12 percent below 2007 and 30 percent below 2006.

Terms and Definitions of Cattle on Feed Estimates

Cattle on feed are animals being fed a ration of grain, silage, hay and/or protein supplement for slaughter market that are expected to produce a carcass that will grade select or better. It excludes cattle being "backgrounded only" for later sale as feeders or later placement in another feedlot.

Placements are cattle put into a feedlot, fed a ration which will produce a carcass that will grade select or better, and are intended for the slaughter market.

Marketings are cattle shipped out of feedlots to a slaughter market.

Other disappearance includes death loss, movement from feedlots to pasture, and shipments to other feedlots for further feeding.

Reliability of Cattle on Feed Estimates

Survey Procedures: During January and July all known feedlots in the U.S. with capacity of 1,000 or more head are surveyed to provide data for cattle on feed estimates. During the other months, all known feedlots from 17 States are surveyed. The 17 States account for 98 percent of the cattle on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head.

Estimating Procedures: These cattle on feed estimates were prepared by the Agricultural Statistics Board after reviewing recommendations and analysis submitted by each State office. Regional and State survey data were reviewed for reasonableness with each other and with estimates from the previous month when setting the current estimates.

Revision Policy: Revisions to previous estimates are made to improve month to month relationships. Estimates for the previous month are subject to revision in all States each month when current estimates are made. In February, all monthly estimates for the previous year, and the number of feedlots and annual marketings from two years ago are reviewed and subject to revisions. The reviews are primarily based on slaughter data, state check-off or brand data, and any other data that may have been received after the original estimate was made. Estimates will also be reviewed after data from the Census of Agriculture are available. No revisions will be made after that date and estimates become final.

Reliability: Since all 1,000+ capacity cattle on feed operators in every State are not included in the monthly survey, survey estimates are subject to sampling variability. Survey results are also subject to non-sampling errors such as omissions, duplications, and mistakes in reporting, recording, and processing the data. The effects of these errors cannot be measured directly. They are minimized through rigid quality controls in the data collection process and through a careful review of all reported data for consistency and reasonableness.

To assist users in evaluating the reliability of estimates in this report, the "Root Mean Square Error" is shown for selected items in the following table. The "Root Mean Square Error" is a statistical measure based on past performance and is computed using the differences between first and latest estimates. The "Root Mean Square Error" for cattle on feed inventory estimates over the past 10 years is .1 percent. This means that chances are 2 out of 3 that the final estimate will not be above or below the current estimate of 11.7 million head by more than .1 percent. Chances are 9 out of 10 that the difference will not exceed .1 percent. The following table also shows a 10 year record of the range of differences between first and latest estimates for selected items. Using estimates of number on feed as an example, changes between the first estimate and the latest estimate during the past 10 years have averaged 7,000 head, ranging from 0 to 15,000 head. During this period the initial estimate has been below the final estimate 7 times, and above the final estimate 0 times. This does not imply that the initial estimate is likely to understate or overstate final inventory.

Further Reading

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