The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report on Friday, February 24, 2017. The report was in line with pre-report expectations for placements and marketings. The total number of cattle on feed was 10.78 million head on February 1, 2017. This was up 0.7 percent over a year ago and consistent with pre-report estimates.
Placements into feedlots in January of 2017 were 11 percent higher than placements in January 2016. Marketings totaled 1.75 million head which was up 10 percent over 2016. There was one more working day in January 2017 than in January 2016 which can account for a portion of the increase in marketings. Overall, the report can be considered mostly neutral as there were no major surprises.
This report was the first to include the larger weight groups that have been added to the monthly report. Placement weights over the last few years have been larger and the new groups will allow us to see how many very heavy cattle are placed. The largest weight group on previous reports (800+ pounds) has been split into 800-899, 900-999, and 1,000+ pounds groups for the U.S. numbers. For the 900-999 pounds group, 116,000 head were placed on feed in January 2017 while 45,000 cattle in the 1,000+ pounds group were placed. The addition of these larger weight groups will allow for a better estimate of when and how many cattle will be ready for market in the future.