Cattle On Feed

Ron Plain
University of Missouri
July 6, 2015

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The June cattle on feed report is bullish. May placements were below pre-release trade forecasts making this report bullish for deferred futures.

USDA said the number of cattle on feed in large feedlots at the start of June was up 0.6% compared to June 2014. The pre-release trade forecast was for the on-feed number to be up 0.9%. This is the seventh month in the last eight with more cattle on feed than a year earlier.

May placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 10.2% lower than in May 2014. The 1.714 million head placed was the fewest for any May since 2009. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for May placements to be down 8.6%.

The Livestock Marketing Information Center put the average returns for fed steers marketed in May at a negative $128 per head. May was the sixth month in a row with red ink for cattle feeding.

USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during May totaled 1.711 million head, down 8.3% compared to May 2014, and the lowest May since before USDA started this data series in 1996. The trade predicted May marketings would be down 8.4%. Federally inspected steer and heifer slaughter was down 9.1% in May. There was one fewer slaughter day this May than last.

The calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during May was up 1.3% from May 2014. The number of cattle placed on feed weighing less than 600 pounds was down 18.4% from the previous May. Placements of feeders weighing 600 to 700 pounds were down 10.3%; placements weighing 700 to 800 pounds were down 17.9%, but placements weighing more than 800 pounds were unchanged compared to a year earlier.

Choice beef prices at retail averaged a record $6.412 per pound during May. That was up 1.0 cent from April which was the old record high, and up 49.9 cents from a year ago.

Cattle on Feed, 1000+ Capacity Feedlots, U.S.
2013 2014 2015 Percent of
Year Ago
1,000 head
On Feed May 1 10,735 10,554 10,640 100.8%
Placed during May 2,051 1,909 1,714 89.8%
Marketed during May 1,948 1,865 1,711 91.7%
Other Disappearance 100 101 82 81.2%
On Feed June 1 10,738 10,497 10,561 100.6%

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