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Fall run placements getting heavier

Feedyards have made their preference clear—background the lighter end of the calf crop.

Nevil Speer

December 5, 2019

2 Min Read
Nevil Speer

Over the years, this column has provided some focus on shifting placement patterns among U.S. feedyards. Most significant within that emphasis being that cattle on the upper end of the placement weight range (greater than 800 pounds) have been and are accounting for a greater percentage of total placements.

That trend is highlighted in this week’s illustration. The graph details the trend of heavy placements over time. It represents the portion of 800+ plus-pound placements during the fall run—August, September and October—since 2005. Those placements have largely come at the expense of light-weight (less than 600-pound) placements over time.  

Nevertheless, the trend highlights the priorities within the feeding sector. Increasingly, the sector is not just settling for just any kind of cattle, even when calves can be purchased at a discount during the fall run. Rather, cattle feeders are becoming increasingly synchronized in terms of their respective supply management. That means they’re ultimately placing a greater portion of heavier cattle into the feedyard.  


Why is that? Bigger cattle enable better positioning around both health and risk management upon arrival. They’re more predictable in terms of performance and increased portion of such replacements helps to simplify management of the feedyard.  

Related:How feeder calf backgrounding diets impact marbling

The trend means cattle on the lighter end of the available feeder supply are increasingly moving into backgrounding and/or grazing programs. That enables the calves to get started and straightened out before heading to the feedyard. And then, we ultimately see them on the other side when they show up as the heavier end of feedlot placements. This trend has been well in place during the past 15 years – and not likely to slow down in the years to come.  

Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, Ky. Contact him at [email protected]




About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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