Cattle On Feed

Ron Plain
University of Missouri
February 21, 2014

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USDA-NASS said the number of cattle on feed in large feedlots at the start of February was down 2.8% compared to February 2013. The pre-release trade forecast was for the on-feed number to be down 4.0%. This is the eighteenth consecutive month that the number of cattle on feed has been below the year-ago level. The February on-feed number is the lowest for any February since 2003.

January placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 8.6% higher than in January 2013. The 2.029 million head placed was the most in January since 2006. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for January placements to be up 2.8%.

USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during January totaled 1.788 million head, down 5.5% compared to January 2013, and the lowest for any January since 2011. The trade predicted January marketings would be down 4.8%. January steer and heifer slaughter was down 5.2% compared to a year ago. There was the same number of marketing days in January 2014 as a year earlier.

The calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during January was up 0.3% from January 2013. The number of cattle placed on feed weighing less than 600 pounds was up 4.4% from the previous January. Placements of feeders weighing 600 to 700 pounds were up 12.8%; placements weighing 700 to 800 pounds were up 5.7%, and placements weighing more than 800 pounds were up 12.0% compared to a year earlier.

The average price of fresh beef in grocery stores during January was $5.044 per pound. That was up 0.7 cents from the record set the month before and 13.2 cents higher than in January 2013. The average retail price for choice beef in January was $5.346 per pound, down 1.4 cents from the month before.

Cattle on Feed, 1000+ Capacity Feedlots, U.S.
2012 2013 2014 Percent of
Year Ago
1,000 head
On Feed January 1 11,861 11,172 10,590 94.8%
Placed during January 1,847 1,869 2,029108.6%
Marketed during January 1,816 1,892 1,788 94.5%
Other Disappearance 81 79 71 89.9%
On Feed February 1 11,811 11,070 10,760 97.2%

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