Statistics in the monthly Cattle on Feed report issued by USDA on Friday underscore the hesitancy of cow-calf producers to market calves this fall.
Placements in September (1.91 million head) were 2% less than last year, representing the lowest placement number for the month since the series began in 1996. Heading into the report, the average of analyst estimates called for an increase of 3.3%, according to the Urner Barry survey, shared by the Daily Livestock Report.
“The absence of a mid-year Cattle report creates uncertainty as to supplies of feeder cattle outside feedlots, but placements are assumed to remain relatively large for the remainder of the year,” explained analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in this month’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. “However, declining fed cattle prices and reduced feeder cattle margins may also affect the pace of near-term cattle on feed placements.”
Cattle weighing more than 800 pounds represented 42% of the September placements; cattle weighing 700-799 pounds represented 24%.
The monthly report also offers another glimpse to slowing herd expansion.
Cattle on feed Oct. 1 (10.3 million head) was about even with the prior year, but heifers and heifer calves represented 4% more of the mix than the same time a year earlier. Heading into the report, analysts expected the total on-feed inventory to be about 1% more.
Marketings of fed cattle during September (1.73 million head) were 5% more than a year earlier. Ahead of the report, analysts estimated an increase of about 6%.
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