Farm Progress America, April 22, 2024

Source: Farm Progress. The original article is posted here.

Farm Progress America, April 22, 2024

Mike Pearson takes a look at the latest cattle on feed report released Friday after the markets closed.

Following the announcement that there will no longer be a mid-year annual cattle inventory report in July, analysts say they will place more weight on the monthly cattle on feed report to track the size of the U.S. beef herd and last Fridays' report provided a lot to think about.

Across all categories, the USDA reported tighter cattle supplies than expected. For total on feed numbers, 11.8 million head which was about 180,000 more head than last April. But it was less than anticipated.

Heifers and heifer calves on feed were still 1 percent higher than last year-- an indication that ranchers are not yet in herd rebuilding mode.

There were signs of improvement in feedlot conditions. It was reported that Oklahoma yards were 27 percent more full this year than at this time last year. A sign that feed costs are moderating somewhat.

The placement figures were closely watched on this report. Analysts had expected a decline of cattle placed in feedlots but the number of calves in the country continue to decline.

This month placements came in at 88 percent of 2023 levels, well below what analysts had expected.

Calves headed into feedlots at this time of the year would likely be headed for harvest late summer time/early fall. So these tighter figures should be supportive of the deferred contracts.

However, it wasn't all sunshine in the report as the marketing figure of the record number of cattle sold for processing was also lower than expected.

Industry players expected to see marketings at around 89 percent of 2024 levels but the more disappointing levels were 86 percent.

The concern over the slow down of marketings is driven by the seasonality of cattle production.

As summer sets in show lists of available cattle will start to grow and if marketings are consistently below placements that's how backups in feedlots get started.

In last week's cattle on feed report, some states reported big swings in inventory.

South Dakota reported 14 percent more head on feed than in 2023.

While the feedlots in Washington were only 96 percent full, compared to 2023.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness .

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