Cheaper corn, premiums in the deferred futures and supplies of cattle to heavy to stay on grass have stimulated placements into feedyards recently. The September Cattle on Feed report, released on Sept. 18, shows August placements totaling 2.11 million, topping the July figure by 250,000 head. August marketings, at 1.81 million head, fell behind those during July by 130,000. That left feedyards with 9.9 million head of cattle as of September 1, an increase of 300,000 head from August 1 and just 1 percent below the figure from September 1, 2008.

Inventories have gradually gained on the year-ago figures since January, when the report listed cattle on feed at 7 percent below those from January 1, 2008.

Most of the cattle placed during August were in the heavier weight classes, with 61 percent weighing more than 700 pounds. During August, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 425,000, 600-699 pounds were 395,000, 700-799 pounds were 515,000 and 800 pounds and greater were 775,000. 

Most reports suggest supplies of market-ready cattle will remain tight for the remainder of this year, but recent placements of heavier cattle could mean more finished cattle, heavier weights and more beef production during the first quarter of 2010

The full Cattle on Feed report is available online from USDA.