‘Cattle on Feed’ more friendly than expected

Numbers only slightly bearish in the latest report.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

November 17, 2023

1 Min Read

After the surprising “Cattle on Feed” report last month, USDA’s November report was more friendly than expected. The report showed that cattle in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.9 million head on November 1, 2023, a 2% increase from year-ago levels and in line with the average pre-report trade estimate.

Placements in feedlots during October totaled 2.16 million head, 4% above 2022. The average trade estimate was for a 6% increase over year-ago levels.  Net placements were 2.11 million head. During October, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 550,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 470,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 465,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 394,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 205,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 80,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during October totaled 1.76 million head, 3% below 2022 and in line with pre-report trade estimates.

USDA said this week that the number of cattle being sent to slaughter or to feedlots—especially heifers—has continued to increase.

Higher cow slaughter and higher placements now just means supplies down the line will tighten even further, USDA Outlook Board Chairman Mark Jekanowski said, adding this will result in a “fairly sharp reduction” in beef production as well as "historically high" steer prices.

About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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