Cattle On Feed

US - USDA’s latest cattle on feed report had good news for the cattle industry. The total number of cattle on feed at the start of October (10.415 million head) was down 5.0% compared to last year and 0.5% below the average of the pre-release trade forecasts.
calendar icon 24 October 2008
clock icon 2 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

This was the sixth month in a row with the on-feed number below last year and it is the smallest on-feed number for any October since 2003.

The average of pre-release trade estimates was for September placements to be down 3.6%. USDA said September placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 5.5% lower than September 2007. Placements have been below year-ago for six of the last seven months.

More fed cattle were marketed than expected last month. The trade forecast September marketings to be up 6.4%. USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during September totaled 1.812 million head, up 6.8% compared to September 2007. Daily steer and heifer slaughter during September was down 1% compared to last year. There were two more week days this September, so total slaughter was up much more than daily slaughter.

The number of cattle weighting less than 600 pounds that were placed on feed during September was 27.0% lower than last year. The number weighing over 800 pounds was up 19.7%. As a result, the calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during September was 3.4% heavier than in September 2007.

The average retail price for choice beef during September was $4.508 per pound. That was down 1.8 cents from July’s record and up 28.1 cents from September 2007. Domestic beef demand in 2008 has been weak. Fortunately, export demand has been very strong. U.S. beef exports were up 33.1% during the first eight months of 2008. Beef imports during this period were down 23.4%. The U.S. exported more beef during August than we imported. This was the first month beef exports exceeded imports since August 2003.

Once each quarter USDA provides a breakdown of cattle on feed by sex. The number of steers on feed was down 4.7% October 1 and the number of heifers on feed down 5.5%. This was the first quarterly survey since April 2006 in which steers were up relatively more than heifers.

Cattle On Feed, 1000+ Capacity Feedlots, U.S.
Percentage of
1,000 head
Year Ago
On Feed September 1
Placed during September
Marketed during September
Other Disappearance
On Feed October 1

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