Cattle on Feed: No Big Surprises

US - USDA's February cattle on feed report had no big surprises. USDA said February placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 2.8 per cent higher than in February 2011. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for February placements to be up 2.7 per cent, writes Ron Plain, University of Missouri.
calendar icon 27 March 2012
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during February totaled 1.755 million head, down 2.0 per cent compared to February 2011. The trade forecast February marketings to be down 0.5 per cent. Steer and heifer slaughter during February was down 3.7 per cent. 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 March was up 2.6 per cent compared to March 2011. The pre-release survey of forecasts predicted an increase of 2.3 per cent. The number of cattle on feed has been above the year-earlier level for each of the last 22 months. The March inventory is the highest on-feed number for any March since 2008.

The number of cattle placed on feed weighing less than 600 pounds was unchanged from the previous February. Placements of feeders weighing 600 to 700 pounds were down 8.2 per cent; placements weighing 700 to 800 pounds were down 4.7 per cent, and placements weighing more than 800 pounds were up 24.4 per cent compared to a year earlier. The calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during February was 1.4 per cent higher than in February 2011.

The average retail price for choice beef during February, $5.045 per pound, was down 4.8 cents from January, up 42.7 cents from February 2010, and the second highest month ever. Slaughter steer prices averaged $125.70/cwt in February, the highest for any month.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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