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Cattle On Feed: Placements Up

23 May 2011
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

IS - US Department of Agricutlure's May cattle on feed report was bearish with April placements much higher than expected. The total number of cattle on feed at the start of May was up 7.4 per cent compared to May 2010.

The pre-release survey of forecasts predicted an increase of 6.5 per cent. The number of cattle on feed has been above the year-earlier level for the last 12 months. The May inventory is the highest on-feed number for any May since 2007.

USDA said April placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were 9.9 per cent higher than in April 2010. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for April placements to be up 4.3 per cent. Placements have been above year-ago levels for 12 the last 14 months. April placements were the highest of any April since 2003. Extremely dry pastures in the southern plains, particularly Texas and Oklahoma, are pushing cattle toward feed lots. In mid May, 71 per cent of the pastures in Texas were rated poor or very poor as were half the pastures in Oklahoma. The number of feeder cattle coming north from Mexico was up 35 per cent during the first quarter of 2011, which also boosts placement numbers.

USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during April totaled 1.807 million head, down 2.7 per cent compared to April 2010. April had one fewer slaughter day this year. The trade forecast April marketings to be down 3.6 per cent. Last month's marketings were the lowest of any April since 2006.

The number of cattle placed on feed weighing less than 600 pounds was up 23.3 per cent from last April. Placements of feeders weighing 600 to 800 pounds were up 3.4 per cent; placements weighing more than 800 pounds were up 10.1 per cent compared to a year earlier. The calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during April was 0.5 per cent lower than in April 2010.

The average retail price for choice beef during April, $4.821 per pound, was a record for the fourth consecutive month. That was up 7.4 cents from March and up 38.1 cents from April 2010. Slaughter steer prices averaged $119.80/cwt in April, a record for the fifth consecutive month.

  2009 2010 2011 Percent of Year Ago
  ---- - 1,000 head -----  
On Feed April 1 11,162 10,742 11,271 104.9%
Placed during April 1,600 1,634 1,795 109.9%
Marketed during April 1,871 1,857 1,807 97.3%
Other Disappearance 69 91 59 64.8%
On Feed May 1 10,822 10,428 11,200 107.4%

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