In The Cattle Markets: Cattle on Feed Jumps Slightly From Last Year

By: Matthew A. Diersen, South Dakota State University Following the shutdown, fundamental information is slowly returning to normal. The February Cattle on Feed report was released last Friday, with the March report scheduled for its normal date of March 22. The February report gives the January activity and February 1 totals. Also, the report contains the monthly and quarterly summaries of prior-year activity and includes an annual breakdown by feedlot size. Thus, it is a good reference report. The trade expectations were for lower placements and higher marketings compared to a year earlier, which would have resulted in slightly higher on-feed totals. The actual numbers had placements at 95% and marketings at 103% of last year’s levels, both at the upper end of expectations. The resulting on-feed total of 11.7 million head was up slightly compared to last year. Texas stands out a bit, having an on-feed total 104% of a year ago. In the weight breakdown, placements of 700-799 pound animals stood out as being sharply lower than during January of 2018. The marketings suggested a bullish report, but the initial price response in the futures was negative. In the breakdown by feedlot size, there was a decline in the number of feedlots as of January 1, 2019 to 28,160 from a year earlier. The decline occurred in lots with capacity between 1,000 and 8,000 head. In lots with capacity of 50,000 head and over, there was an additional lot, bringing the total to 74. Feedlots in that capacity range had…

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