Record high March cattle on feed

Dry conditions in parts of the USA are forcing producers to put cattle on grain sooner.

March 30, 2022

2 Min Read
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The latest Cattle on Feed report was released last Friday and reported a record high level of cattle in feedlots for any March 1st. The March 1st total of 12.16 million head was up 1.4 percent above a year ago and is the highest total since the data series began in 1996.


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Placements during February 2022 totaled 1.85 million head which is 9.3 percent above placements during February 2021. It is important to note that February 2021 was unique because of the major winter storm that affected cattle markets and limited cattle transportation among many other impacts.

The biggest percentage increase in placements was seen in cattle weighing 800-899 pounds. Placements of this category were up 12.5 percent compared to a year ago. However, other weight groups were also up sharply with the less than 600 pound group being the smallest increase but still up 7.5 percent above year ago. The 600-699 group was up 10.2 percent and the 700-799 group was up 8.6 percent. Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.83 million head. This was nearly 5 percent above February 2021 which included the winter storm.

Dry conditions in many grazing areas likely contributed to some feeder cattle being placed sooner than normal, especially when coupled with stronger prices. Looking ahead, the expectation of tighter supplies is still looming, but it is not clear exactly how or when those tighter supplies will be reflected in feedlot totals. Drought concerns remain a critical factor overhanging the cattle sector. This is especially true in Texas and Oklahoma in recent weeks.

The last few months have seen increased placements likely due in part to pulling cattle into feedlots sooner. Those dynamics do not necessarily change the total number of cattle available in 2022, just the timing of when they enter the feedlot. But drought conditions (and prices) do influence the number of heifers that enter feedlots as opposed to being retained in the herd. These decisions would have impacts on feeder cattle availability in 2022 and also in calf crops in future years.

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Source: Mississippi State Universitywhich is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

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