Industry at a glance: Heifer population in feedyards is slowly declining

Industry at a glance: Heifer population in feedyards is slowly declining

All indications are that heifer sales off the ranch are declining – albeit slowly and carefully.  

Last week’s chart focused on relative imports and their significance with respect to rebuilding the cowherd. Meanwhile, Industry At A Glance has regularly focused on the relative proportion of heifers in the feedyard. That most recently occurred a year ago following October’s Cattle on Feed report and quarterly updates regarding respective composition of the nation’s feedyard inventory. That’s an important snapshot as it provides some insight into heifer placement patterns and the potential for rebuilding the cowherd in coming years.

The front-end of the fall run (July, August, September) is now over. All indications are that heifer sales off the ranch are declining – albeit slowly and carefully. November’s feedlot inventory composition was approximately 35% heifers – down about 1% vs. last year’s mark.

heifers on feed december 2014

There’s a high level of confidence out in the country. And increasingly, producers are seemingly expressing desire to own more cows. However, as mentioned above, the data reveals that strategy is still somewhat guarded.

How do you perceive the data outlined above? What factors might reverse the declining heifer-placement trend? What’s your assessment of the general sentiment among cow-calf producers going forward? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

 Nevil Speer serves as a private industry consultant. He is based in Bowling Green, KY, and can be reached at [email protected]

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