Feedlot placements larger than expected

U.S. feedlot inventory up 1% year over year on March 1.

March 22, 2024

1 Min Read

Feedlot placements once again stole the show in USDA’s monthly “Cattle on Feed” report, coming in much larger than analysts had expected. According to the report, feedlots placed 1.89 million head during February, 10% above 2023 and the highest for February since the series began in 1996. Analysts had expected placements would be 6% higher than the same period last year.  

Net placements were 1.83 million head. During February, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 360,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 330,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 515,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 485,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 150,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 50,000 head.

USDA livestock analyst Mike McConnell said most were not expecting that large of an increase, but the placements in January were relatively low due to winter storms, which delayed some placements. “Some of the increase that we saw in placements during February was [due to] the fact that we’re making up for some of the weather incidents that occurred during January.”

McConnell further noted that prices for feeder cattle are at historic levels, providing lots of incentive to sell.

The total U.S. feedlot inventory on March 1 was in line with pre-report estimates, up 1% from a year ago at 11.8 million head.


Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.79 million head, 3% above 2023. This was 1% lower than the average pre-report trade estimate.

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