Derrell Peel- Cattle on Feed Numbers Even With Year Ago Inventory- Smaller Numbers Ahead

Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Market Economist Dr. Derrell Peel believes the February USDA Cattle on Feed Report is an indicator of smaller feedlot inventories ahead for the foreseeable future.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster Ron Hays talked with Dr. Peel on Friday afternoon after the release of that report.

Ron Hays talks Cattle on Feed and More with OSU’s Dr. Derrell Peel

According to USDA- “Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million head on February 1, 2024. The inventory was slightly above February 1, 2023(Forty thousand head).

“Placements in feedlots during January totaled 1.79 million head, 7 percent below 2023. Net placements were
1.71 million head. During January, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 370,000 head,
600-699 pounds were 395,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 475,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 377,000 head,
900-999 pounds were 105,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 70,000 head.

“Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.84 million head, slightly below 2023.”

Dr. Peel says the report did come in as the trade expected- although the placement numbers were higher than the higher trade guess of 12% fewer placements than a year ago. The actual drop was 7%.

“Starting last fall, we had three or four months of big placements that pulled the numbers back above year ago levels but that was a short term thing- I think that was a function of drought conditions and high prices that encouraged people to sell but the fact of the matter is the tighter numbers and the overall inventory situation says that these feedlot inventories are going to come down and we are starting to see that now.”

Peel adds that we have arrived at a point where “I think we are here now where we will see these numbers to tighten up appreciably” and he believes “we are liable to pull down these feedlot inventories down a million head in the next few months.”

Tight feedlot supplies ahead suggests that there will be incentives in the market for the rebuilding of the US beef cow herd. Peel believes interest will start picking up to add beef cows back into the herd here in 2024- assuming weather will allow adequate forage supplies to be available across the heart of cattle country. Hays and Peel talk about that in the conversation that can be heard in this story.

The February report provides expanded state numbers- allowing us to see the Oklahoma stats. USDA reports “Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Oklahoma feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled
330 thousand head on February 1, 2024, up 20 percent from a year ago. Producers placed 35 thousand head
in commercial feedlots during January, down 5 percent from a year ago. Oklahoma commercial feeders
marketed 39 thousand head during January, up 8 percent from 2023. Other disappearance during January
totaled 1 thousand head, unchanged from a year ago.”

With these February first numbers- Oklahoma ranks 8th in cattle in feedlot numbers in the US.

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 at the top of the story 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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