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Weekly Cattle On Feed - Latest Report on Feed

22 December 2008
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

US - Weekly Cattle Outlook, 22nd December 2008 - Weekly review of the US cattle industry, written by Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.

USDA's latest cattle on feed report contained few surprises. The total number of cattle on feed at the start of December (11.345 million head) was down 6.2 per cent compared to December 2007 and 0.1 per cent below the average of pre-release trade forecasts. This was the eighth month in a row with the on-feed number below last year. It is the smallest on-feed number for any December since 2004.

USDA said November placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 5.2 per cent lower than November 2007. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for November placements to be down 6.2 per cent. Placements have been below year-ago for eight of the last nine months. Through November placements are 4.8 per cent lower than for the first 11 months of 2007. Either a lot of feeder cattle are backed-up on pasture, or USDA over estimated the size of the 2007 calf crop, or both.

More fed cattle were marketed than expected last month. The trade forecast November marketings to be down 11.2 per cent. USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during November totaled 1.575 million head, down 9.4 per cent compared to November 2007. There were two fewer weekdays in November this year than last, which is the primary reason for the big drop in marketings. On a daily basis steer and heifer slaughter in November was down 5 per cent.

The number of cattle weighting less than 600 pounds that were placed on feed during November was 17.5 per cent lower than last year. The number placed weighing over 700 pounds was up 5.1 per cent. As a result, the calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during November was 1.5 per cent heavier than in November 2007. The calculated placement weight has been above year-ago for each of the last eight months.

The average retail price for choice beef during November was $4.433 per pound. That was down 7.8 cents from October but up 27.4 cents from November 2007. Domestic meat demand in 2008 has been weak. Fortunately, export demand has been very strong. U.S. beef exports were up 35.3 per cent during the first ten months of 2008. Beef imports during this period were down 22.2 per cent. Through October the U.S. exported 12.8 per cent more beef than in all of 2007.

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