Friday’s USDA Cattle on Feed report shows February 1 inventories in U.S. feedlots with 1,000-head capacity or more at 11.1 million head, down 6 percent from a year earlier. January placements, however, gained 6 percent over those during January 2012. January marketings also moved upward, showing a 6 percent increase over those during January last year.

Steers and steer calves on feed as of January 1 were down 3 percent from a year ago while the number of heifers on feed was down 9 percent, suggesting ranchers are holding more heifers for breeding.

Virtually all the increase in January placements occurred in the heavier weight classes. Placements weighing 700 to 799 pounds were up by 2 percent and placements in the 800-pound-plus class were up by 12 percent. Placements weighing less than 600 pounds were equal to a year ago and those weighing 600 to 699 pounds were down by 8 percent. Cattle weighing more than 700 pounds accounted for 55 percent of total placements.

The February report also includes data on the number of feedlots in the United States, along with inventories and annual marketings by size group for 2011 and 2012.

The report lists 73,000 feedlots with less than 1,000-head capacity in the United States in 2012, down from 75,000 in 2011. Those feedlots, however, accounted for just 11.4 percent of marketings. In contrast, the report lists 2,100 feedlots with more than 1,000-head capacity, and those operations accounted for 88.6 percent of total 2012 marketings.

According to the report, there were 187 feedyards with 24,000-head or more one-time capacity in the United States in 2012, down from 189 in 2011. Those feedyards accounted for 55.3 percent of total marketings in 2012. Sixty-six feedyards with 50,000-head capacity or greater marketed 8.2 million head of cattle during 2012, accounting for 32.7 percent of the total.

Total capacity in U.S. feedlots with 1,000-head or more capacity was 16.9 million head in 2012, down from 17 million in 2011.

Read the full Cattle on Feed report from USDA.