USDA report shows cattle on feed numbers lower than expected

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Placements and inventory declines were larger than expected in Friday afternoon’s Cattle on Feed report as placements fell 11 percent and inventory was 7 percent lower than a year ago.

Placements were over three percent lower than analysts were expecting in the days prior to the report. Placements in feedlots during August totaled 1.79 million, an 11 percent fall from the same month a year earlier. The September report reveals placements are at their lowest level since the USDA began tracking data in 1996.

During August this year, 58 percent of cattle placed into feedlots arrived weighing more than 700 pounds, while 42 percent weighed 699 pounds or less.

The number of cattle on feed in U.S. feedlots as of September 1 was down seven percent, only 0.4 percent lower than analysts’ expectations. The inventory of calves and cattle in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more totaled 9.9 million head. The September report shows the cattle on feed inventory is 1.3 million head lower than January 1, 2013.

Better pasture conditions, easing feed costs and fewer areas of the U.S. in extreme drought have eased the number of cattle moved to feedlots compared to 2012.

If 2013 continues to follow the same seasonal pattern as the previous year, inventories should increase for the remainder of the year but lower supplies will likely keep next month's data below numbers from the previous year.

The number of cattle marketed by feedyards in August again outpaced the number of cattle placed during the month. August marketings totaled 1.88 million head, four percent below the previous year. USDA data shows monthly marketings for August are the second lowest since the series began in 1996.

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