Latest Cattle on Feed Report Shows Higher Prices to Come

Listen to Ron Hays talk about the latest USDA Cattle on Feed Report.

In this episode of Beef Buzz, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is talking about the latest cattle on feed numbers, and features input from DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart on the report.

The cattle on feed number as of March is at 96 percent of a year ago, which is down four percentage points. The average estimate was expecting close to 95.3 percent of those cattle on feed numbers.

Placements in February were at 93 percent, down seven percent from a year ago. Pre report estimates showed placements at 93.1 percent.

Marketings were reported at 95 percent of a year ago and the pre-report estimates averaged at 95.7 percent at a range from 95 to 96 percent.

DTN Livestock Analyst, ShayLe Stewart, said it is likely traders will find the report neutral to somewhat bullish as analyst projections leading up to the report were spot-on. From a fundamental standpoint, she added, one cannot argue that with the tremendous position that this report has put cattle feeders and cow-calf producers in, it is not surprising to see Friday’s cattle on feed number to come in at four percent under the year ago numbers, with some analysts predicting that the report could be as few as 94.2 percent of a year ago.

With marketings not as aggressive as they were the previous year, which is largely due to reduced slaughter speeds, there is naturally going to be more cattle on feed than if processing speeds were still operating like they were in 2022.

What is most interesting, Stewart said, is that the placement data is very bullish. Regardless of weight division, cattle placed in February of 2023 were lighter than the previous year.

When one compares the placements of January 2023 to those of February 2023, the only two weight divisions that saw an increase in placements from a month ago are the eight to nine weights, and those weighing over 900 pounds.

Friday’s placement data clearly shows that the industry is looking at fewer cattle going forward. In this latest report, market fundamentals are showing that fewer beef cows in the market are contributing fewer calves and feeders to be had at both feedlots and packers.

The competition for those calves will likely keep prices on the upswing, and numbers are looking to be tighter as the year progresses. Higher prices can be expected for calves and yearlings, especially if forage becomes more available.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

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