While the latest U.S. Cattle on Feed report showed total inventory in U.S. feedlots with capacity for 1,000 or more head was 1 percent higher on Jan. 1, 2015 compared to the first of the year in 2014, total inventory of heifers was down 2 percent during that time.

Of the 10.7 million head on Jan. 1, 6.94 million were steers and steer calves, a 2 percent increase from 2014. Steers accounted for 65 percent of total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves, meanwhile, totaled 3.67 million head, down 2 percent from 2014. These figures contribute to indications that beef producers are retaining more heifers for breeding purposes rather than sending them to the feedyard. Further information regarding heifer retention for breeding purposes will be revealed in next week’s U.S. cattle inventory report.

Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.54 million, which is 8 percent lower than December 2013 placement levels. Allendale projected placements to be 6.9 percent lower than December 2013, or 1.56 million. This is the smallest December placement in five years.

During December, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 435,000. Calves weighing between 600 and 699 pounds totaled 375,000, and placements of 7 weights were 339,000. Calves weighing 800 pounds and more were 395,000.

Allendale projected total marketings to be 5.1 percent lower than December 2013, and the USDA report showed an actual 5 percent decrease in marketings compared to December 2013.

USDA’s 5-Area Weekly Accumulated Weighted Average Cattle Price for Friday, Thursday, January 22, was 159.81 per hundredweight for steers and $160 for heifers, up slightly from a month earlier when both steers and heifers averaged $157 per hundredweight.

According to Allendale, USDA’s cattle feeding margin ended the month with a $63 per head loss on outgoing cattle, ending 14 months of continuous profits. Feedlot margins have yo-yo’d up and down in January, reaching $51 per head early in the month but finishing the week ending Jan. 17 at negative $3 per head.

The Choice beef cutout value finished the week at $253.74 per hundredweight and Select averaged $247.23.

Read the full Cattle on Feed report here.