Placements come in 7% lower than last year and mostly outside of pre-report expectations.

February 23, 2024

1 Min Read
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released the February “Cattle on Feed” report, revealing a feedlot inventory totaling 11.8 million head on February 1, 2024, up slightly by 0.4% from February 1, 2023, and in line with analysts’ expectations.

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The average pre-report trade estimate in a Bloomberg survey was for a 12% year-over-year decline in feedlot placements during January. The USDA report revealed that placements in feedlots during January totaled 1.79 million head, only 7% below 2023.

Net placements were 1.71 million head. During January, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 370,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 395,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 475,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 377,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 105,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 70,000 head.

“The number of cattle outside feedlots is small relative to a year ago, down about 4%. To some extent, it does reflect pulling cattle from a small pool,” said USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam. However, he said when thinking about the latest placements, it is important remember the weather events during January that likely had some impact on the pace of placements.

Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.84 million head, slightly below 2023 and in line with pre-report estimates.

Both April live cattle futures and April feeder cattle futures settled higher Friday at $187.900/cwt. and $259.975/cwt., respectively.

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