Cattle On Feed

US - USDA's April cattle on feed report was a bit positive with March placements lower than expected and marketings higher than expected.
calendar icon 25 April 2011
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

The total number of cattle on feed at the start of April was up 5.0 per cent compared to April 2010. The pre-release survey of forecasts predicted an increase of 5.2 per cent. The number of cattle on feed has been above the year-earlier level for the last 11 months. The April inventory is the highest on-feed number for any April since 2008.

USDA said March placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 3.3 per cent higher than in March 2010. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for March placements to be up 4.0 per cent. Placements had been above year-ago levels for 10 the previous 12 months. March placements were the highest of any March since 2007. Extremely dry pastures in the southwest, particularly Texas and Oklahoma, are pushing cattle toward feed lots. The number of feeder cattle coming north from Mexico is also up sharply.

USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during March totaled 1.988 million head, up 4.5 per cent compared to March 2010. The trade forecast March marketings to be up 3.1 per cent. Last month's marketings were the highest of any March since 2000.

The number of cattle placed on feed weighing less than 800 pounds was down 3.1 per cent from last March. Placements of feeders weighing more than 800 pounds were up 21.6 per cent compared to a year earlier. The calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during March was 1.4 per cent higher than in March 2010.

The average retail price for choice beef during March was a record $4.747 per pound. That was up 12.9 cents from February and up 43.9 cents from March 2010. Slaughter steer prices averaged $115.60/cwt in March, also a record.

This report included a breakdown of cattle on feed by gender. The number of steers on feed at the start of April was up 6.6 per cent. The number of heifers on feed was up only 2.2 per cent. Of the cattle on feed, 36.4 per cent were heifers. That is the lowest percentage on April 1 since 2007. This may be an indication that cow-calf producers are saving heifers to expand the breeding herd.

Cattle on Feed, 1000+ Capacity Feedlots, US

  2009 2010 2011 Percent of Year Ago
  ---- - 1,000 head -----  
On Feed March 1 11,228 10,849 1,399 105.1%
Placed during March 1,808 1,856 1,918 103.3%
Marketed during March 1,824 1,903 1,988 104.5%
Other Disappearance 50 60 52 86.7%
On Feed April 1 11,162 10,742 11,277 105.0%

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