Cattle Outlook: Placements Up For July

US - USDA's August cattle on feed report said July placements were much higher than expected, writes Ron Plain , University of Missouri.
calendar icon 22 August 2011
clock icon 2 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

USDA said July placements of cattle into large feed yards (over 1,000 head capacity) were an amazing 22.5 per cent higher than in July 2010. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for July placements to be up 16.9 per cent.

July placements were the highest of any July since before USDA started this data series in 1996. Extremely dry pastures in the southern plains, particularly Texas and Oklahoma, are pushing cattle into feed lots. In mid August, 96 per cent of the pastures in Texas were rated poor or very poor as were 91 per cent the pastures in Oklahoma.

The number of feeder cattle coming north from Mexico was up 22 per cent during the first six months of 2011, which also boosts placement numbers. Placements have been above year-ago levels for 14 the last 17 months.

USDA said marketings of fed cattle from large feed yards during July totaled 1.908 million head, up 0.4 per cent compared to July 2010, despite the month having one fewer slaughter day than July 2010. The trade forecast July marketings to be down 3.7 per cent. Last month's marketings were the highest of any July since 2009.

The total number of cattle on feed at the start of August was up 7.6 per cent compared to August 2010. That is the biggest year-over-year increase for any month since October 2006. The pre-release survey of forecasts predicted an increase of 7.5 per cent. The number of cattle on feed has been above the year-earlier level for the last 15 months. The August inventory is the highest on-feed number for any August since 2006.

The number of cattle placed on feed weighing less than 600 pounds was up 50.6 per cent from last July.

Placements of feeders weighing 600 to 700 pounds were up 32.8 per cent; placements weighing 700 to 800 pounds were up 11.2 per cent, and placements weighing more than 800 pounds were up 5.9 per cent compared to a year earlier. The calculated average weight of cattle placed on feed during July was 2.5 per cent lower than in July 2010.

The average retail price for choice beef during July, $4.781 per pound, was down 2.8 cents from June, but up 33.7 cents from July 2010. Slaughter steer prices averaged $111/cwt in July.

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