Encouraging news relative to cattle supply came from the Professional Cattle Consultants (PCC) newsletters in April. Shawn Walter reported March feedlot placements were up 7.7% and speculated that April placements might be up as well. That will be great for late summer and fall grilling season.
It seems like cattlemen are conditioned to think “bad news” when there is more supply, but in fact it is good news, especially compared to alternatives we’ve lately seen in calf mortality. Much of the current increase in placements is coming into northern Great Plains and Midwest feedlots, an area known for quality (see graph).
From a Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) standpoint, it’s encouraging because of the opportunity to grow demand—something we cannot do without supply. The northern plants with northern fed cattle often achieve 25% to 30% CAB acceptance rates on their Angus-type cattle. With our summer sales often hitting 70- to 75-million pounds per month, the grilling season is a key sales period.
The negative news from the northern Great Plains has been the brutal April snowstorms. Since 40% of the new calves are born in April in that region, calf death losses of 5% to 15% are being reported. This has at least a two-fold effect: fewer calves will be marketed as feds next year and, because most cows that lose calves are sold, herd liquidation comes back into focus. With 6- to 7-million cows in the affected area, we could see 200,000 cows liquidated this spring.