As herd rebuilding takes place, the proportion of heifers on feed continues to decrease relative to the proportion of steers on feed. The October 2015 Cattle on Feed report provided some evidence of continued herd expansion as the inventory of heifers and heifer calves on feed in 1,000-plus-head feedlots on October 1, 2015, was down 7 percent year over year. This fact, combined with the year-over-year 7- percent larger inventory of steers on feed on October 1, suggests that heifers are likely being held back for breeding purposes. The Cattle report, scheduled to be released in January 20, 2016, will provide a clearer indication of the cattle inventory situation.

Due to the increased proportion of steers in feedlots and relatively low feed costs, producers are choosing to manage cattle at heavier than traditional weights. The 5- area weekly weighted average direct slaughter total of all grades fed-steer live weights was 1,489 pounds for the week ending November 8, 2015, up 40 pounds compared with the same week last year (http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/lm_ct150.txt). September 2015 dressed weights for steers in federally inspected slaughter facilities climbed to an average of 920 pounds (Livestock Slaughter), for the first time in the history of the series surpassing the average dressed weight of bulls (910 pounds).