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‘Cattle on Feed’ shows record-high inventory

DarcyMaulsby/iStock/Thinkstock Cattle in feedlot
Placements come in much higher than average pre-report estimate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest “Cattle on Feed” report showed that the inventory of cattle in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled 11.7 million head on Oct. 1, 2020, a 4% increase from the same period last year. USDA said it is the highest Oct. 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. Analysts had expected a 3% increase from October 2019.

The inventory included 7.31 million steers and steer calves, up 6% from the previous year. USDA said this group accounted for 62% of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.41 million head, down slightly from 2019.

Placements in feedlots during September were much larger than expected, totaling 2.23 million head, 6% above 2019. Analysts had expected only a 2.5% increase.

Net placements were 2.17 million head. During September, placements were: 445,000 head of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 lb., 360,000 head for the 600-699 lb. weight category, 500,000 head for the 700-799 lb. category, 517,000 head for the 800-899 lb. category, 300,000 head for the 900-999 lb. category and 105,000 head for those weighing 1,000 lb. and greater.

Marketings of fed cattle during September totaled 1.85 million head, 6% above 2019 and close to analysts’ pre-report estimates.

Steiner Consulting Group (SCG), in CME Group’s “Daily Livestock Report,” said feedlots are now largely current.

“The inventory of cattle with 150-plus days on feed on Oct. 1 was 1.988 million head, down 5.4% compared to a year ago and only 80,000 head higher than the five-year average. Back in August, the inventory of such cattle was running 40% above year-ago levels,” SCG reported.

SCG also noted that the inventory of cattle on feed for 120 days or more was estimated at 3.974 million head, 2.9% lower than last year but 4.2% higher than the five-year average.

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