** Updated Sunday, April 26 **
The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report Friday afternoon (Apr 24). The report revealed that 10.797 million head of cattle were in U.S. feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or larger on April 1, 2015. Placements into feedlots during the month of March totaled 1.089 million head while marketings during the same month totaled 1.631 million head.
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Placements totaled 1.809 million head, an increase of 0.44% from March 2014 but a 2.18% decrease from the five-year average of 2010 to 2014. Market analyst expected placements to come in at 1.722 million head, so the reported value was much higher than anticipated — even above the highest guess by 2.7 percentage points. The jump in placements stemmed from heavy weights, though, as total placements of cattle over 800 pounds increased 16.1%, while all other weight groups saw decreases (nationally). Kansas and the aggregate of those states that are not reported individually were the only to report increases outside of this weight group. The significant increase in heavy weight cattle will surely pressure live cattle futures prices with mid/late summer delivery.
Cattle marketed in February totaled 1.631 million head, down 1.75% versus last year and down 11.31% compared to the average from 2010 to 2014. Pre-report expectations called for marketings to be 1.9% lower than the same period last year.
The total number of cattle in feedlots with 1,000 head or larger capacity totaled 10.797 million head, up 0.05% versus April 1, 2014 but 2.20% lower than the five-year average. Market analysts expected a 1.0% year-over-year decrease in cattle inventories.
Also inside this report was the quarterly breakdown of cattle on feed by class. A large increase in steers was reported (up 5% year-over-year), while heifers on feed were down by a rather large clip (down 10% year-over-year). The figure below shows the placements of steers and heifers compared to prior years. Not surprisingly, this adds further evidence of increased heifer retention and herd building.
A break down on the numbers can be found at this link: http://goo.gl/1M4YXv