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Cattle On Feed: Placements Below Forecast

21 May 2012
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

US - USDA's April cattle on feed report said placements were lower and marketings higher than the pre-release trade forecasts. The number of cattle on feed 1 May was well below what the trade had forecast.

The number of cattle on feed in large feedlots at the start of May was down 0.6 per cent compared to May 2011. The average of pre-release forecasts was for feedlot numbers to be up 0.3 per cent. This is the first time cattle on feed numbers have been below year-ago since May 2010.

USDA said April placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 14.8 per cent lower than in April 2011. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for April placements to be down 11.6 per cent. April placements were the lowest of any April since 2002 and the lowest for any month since June 2009.

The low placement number can be attributed to an early spring with more April grass available for grazing than normal, high corn prices, and negative returns to cattle feeding.

USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during April totaled 1.815 million head. That is up 0.4 per cent compared to April 2011 thanks to one extra slaughter day this April than last. The trade predicted April marketings would be down 1.4 per cent.

The number of cattle placed on feed weighing less than 600 pounds was down 20.2 per cent from the previous April. Placements of feeders weighing 600 to 700 pounds were down 19.4 per cent; placements weighing 700 to 800 pounds were down 21.6 per cent, and placements weighing more than 800 pounds were down 1.7 per cent compared to a year earlier. The calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during April was 1.4 per cent higher than in April 2011.

The average retail price for choice beef during April, $4.986 per pound, was down 6.7 cents from March, but up 16.5 cents from April 2011. Slaughter steer prices averaged $121.20/cwt in April.

Further Reading

- You can view the full Cattle on Feed report by clicking here.

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