Placements Higher Than Trade Expected in Final Cattle on Feed Report of 2023

Ron Hays talks Cattle on Feed with OSU Ag Economist Dr. Derrell Peel

The final Cattle on Feed report for 2023 was released as the industry headed into the Christmas holiday weekend- and it was a slightly bearish report- based on more cattle being placed into feedlots compared to what the pre report guesses by the trade were.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on December 1, 2023. The inventory was 3 percent above December 1, 2022.

Placements in feedlots during November totaled 1.87 million head, 2 percent below 2022. Net placements were 1.81 million head. During November, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 535,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 440,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 380,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 288,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 140,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 85,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during November totaled 1.75 million head, 7 percent below 2022. Other disappearance totaled 54,000 head during November, 5 percent below 2022.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster for the Oklahoma Farm Report, Ron Hays, talked with Extension Livestock Market Economist Dr. Derrell Peel about the numbers- and he says “It’s not a big surprise like that September report was- it is on the upper end of the placement range- but there were some analysts who thought it might be at this level. ” Peel does acknowledge that it is a relatively large placement number and keeps the on feed numbers above a year ago as we end 2023.

Peel says the on feed numbers have now been above a year ago since October- and this is because of bigger placement numbers.

“We have had such a strong increase in cattle markets this year- prices have been well above year ago levels- particularly for feeder cattle- we have been running 30% to 36-37% above a year earlier levels all year on average. I think a lot of producers just really wanted to take advantage of this market.”

Peel believes Feeder Cattle have been pulled forward a little bit and that changes the timing but not the numbers of cattle – but it does frontload the number of cattle that will be coming out of feedlots in the first part of 2024.

Listen to Ron and Dr. Peel’s complete report by clicking on the Listen Bar above.

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.

We also have Derrell Peel’s weekly cattle market analysis as released on Christmas Day- it’s about the Cattle on Feed Report- see what he writes:

The final Cattle on Feed report of the year showed that December feedlot inventories were 102.7 percent of last year at 12.006 million head.   Among the four largest cattle feeding states, Texas (2.91 million head) and Kansas (2.50 million head) were up the most, with Texas up four percent and Kansas inventories up seven percent year over year.  Nebraska (2.58 million head) and Colorado (1.03 million head) were both down one percent in feedlot totals compared to one year ago. The top four states represent 75.1 percent of December 1 feedlot inventories.  Feedlot inventories in number five Iowa are up two percent year over year at 640 thousand head and California, the sixth largest cattle feeding state, had a December feedlot total of 510 thousand head, up one percent over one year ago.  Oklahoma, Idaho, Washington, and Arizona round out the top ten cattle feeding states.

November feedlot placements were 98.1 percent of last year, smaller than last year after two months of year over year higher placements in September and October.  The placement total was a little larger than average expectations at the top end of pre-report estimates.  Although feedlot inventories are 2.7 percent larger than one year ago, total feedlot placements the last six months (which account for 96.2 percent of the December feedlot inventory), are down 0.3 percent from the same June-November period last year.  This means that the larger feedlot inventory now is due to a slower feedlot turnover rate and not because of increased total feedlot production.  This is reflected in the November feedlot marketings that were down 7.4 percent year over year.  A slower feedlot marketing rate raises concerns that feedlots may not be staying current in marketings.  Steer carcass weights pushed to new record levels in the past month with weekly weights at 940 pounds in late November and early December.  (Heifer carcass weights peaked at 854 pounds recently, just one pound shy of the largest weekly heifer carcass weight in January 2022.)  However, indications are that the heavier carcass weights reflect deliberate marketing intentions (feeding cattle longer) rather than a systemic lack of currentness in feedlots.

Feeder and fed cattle prices increased the week before Christmas.  The five-market cash fed price on December 22 was $170.50/cwt., up roughly $2/cwt. from the previous week.  On a weekly basis, fed cattle prices have average 22 percent above year earlier levels in 2023.  Feeder cattle prices were sharply higher in Oklahoma auctions for the final week of sales in 2023.  The price of 475 pound, medium/large, #1 steers was $317.52/cwt, up 44 percent from one year ago, and have averaged 37 percent higher year over year across all weeks this year.  The price of 775-pound steers was $225.87/cwt., up 28 percent year over year. These big feeder cattle have averaged 31 percent higher year over year on a weekly basis in 2023.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

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