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Feedlot cattle

Feedlot placements less than expected

Cattle on feed numbers declined for the first time in a long while.

Apparently the flexibility enabled by widespread forage availability, combined with uncertainty about prices, helped keep August feedlot placements lower compared to a year earlier, according to the monthly USDA Cattle on Feed report issued Friday. 

Placements in August of 1.88 million head were 8.99%  less (-186,000 head), which was about 1% more than the top end of analyst estimates ahead of the report.

The lion’s share—45.85%—went on feed weighing 700-899 pounds. Cattle weighing 699 pounds or less comprised 36.35% of placements; 17.78% weighing 900 pounds or more.

Marketings in August were a touch more friendly than the most optimistic analyst expectations ahead of the report. There were 1.95 million head marketed during the month, which was 1.51% less (-30,000 head) than the same month a year earlier.

So, for the first time in several years, cattle on feed declined year over year. As of Sept. 1, USDA estimates there were 10.98 million head on feed in feedlots with 1,000 head or more capacity. That’s 1.29% less (-143,000 head) than the previous year.

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