Cattle On Feed

US - USDA's latest cattle on feed report included some positive news for a cattle industry badly in need of encouragement having watched slaughter steer prices decline by over $10/cwt in the last two months.
calendar icon 24 November 2008
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

The total number of cattle on feed at the start of November (10.972 million head) was down 6.8% compared to last year and 0.7% below the average of the pre-release trade forecasts. This was the seventh month in a row with the on-feed number below last year and it is the smallest on-feed number for any November since 2002.

The average of pre-release trade estimates was for October placements to be down 8.9%. USDA said October placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 10.5% lower than October 2007. Placements have been below year-ago for seven of the last eight months. Through October placements are 4.7% lower than for the first 10 months of 2007.

More fed cattle were marketed than expected last month. The trade forecast October marketings to be down 4.9%. USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during October totaled 1.814 million head, down 3.3% compared to October 2007. Steer and heifer slaughter during October was down 6.4% compared to last year. The difference between feedlot marketing and actual steer and heifer slaughter reflects a drop in imports of slaughter cattle from Canada.

The number of cattle weighting less than 600 pounds that were placed on feed during October was 19.1% lower than last year. The number weighing over 800 pounds was up 3.6%. As a result, the calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during October was 1.8% heavier than in October 2007.

The average retail price for choice beef during October was $4.511 per pound. That was up 0.2 cents from September and up 38.1 cents from October 2007. Domestic beef demand in 2008 has been weak. Fortunately, export demand has been very strong. U.S. beef exports were up 36% during the first nine months of 2008. Beef imports during this period were down 22%. The U.S. exported more beef during both August and September than we imported. These were the first months beef exports exceeded imports since August 2003.

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

Further Reading

- View the USDA NASS cattle on feed report by clicking clicking here.

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