May Cattle on Feed Report Recap


The USDA released their monthly Cattle on Feed report this afternoon (May 17). The report shows 3.4% fewer cattle in feedlots with over 1,000 head capacity (10.735 million head total versus 11.110 last year). This is a 1.8% decline from the five-year average. Placements durring April were well above one year ago at 1.750 million head, up 15.1% from last year and 8.3% above the average from 2008-2012. Marketings were 2.2% higher than last year at 1.855 million head. 

First, year ago April placements were rather low (third lowest since 1996) and 2013’s was the third highest on record. Also, much lower corn prices are likely the predominant driver behind the much larger placements number. On March 28 the corn market received a blow when USDA revealed more corn in storage than anyone expected. As a result, prices slid about $1 per bushel very quickly and remained lower throughout much of the month (delayed planting pushed prices higher as the month ended). These lower corn prices cheapened the cost of gain for cattle.

Despite the increased placements and slightly lower marketings, the total number of cattle on feed came in 0.3 percentage points lower than expected.

Report Summary:

Pre-report Estimates:
(1,000 head) vs. 2012 vs. 5-Yr Avg Average Range
Placed in Apr 1,750 15.1% 8.3% 12.1% 4.9% 22.0%
Marketed in Apr 1,855 2.2% -0.9% 2.9% 0.0% 4.1%
On Feed, May 1 10,735 -3.4% -1.8% -3.7% -5.0% -2.0%

Placements by State and Weight:

AZ CA CO ID IA KS NE
< 600 lbs. N/A N/A -20.0% N/A N/A -8.3% 40.0%
600-699 lbs. N/A N/A 75.0% N/A N/A -9.1% 40.0%
700-799 lbs. N/A N/A 33.3% N/A N/A 17.6% 22.2%
800+ lbs. N/A N/A 0.0% N/A N/A 45.0% 11.1%
TOTAL 0.0% 44.4% 16.7% 17.9% 61.8% 16.7% 21.6%
OK SD TX WA Other [1] U.S.
< 600 lbs. N/A N/A 7.7% N/A 0.0% 5.6%
600-699 lbs. N/A N/A -18.8% N/A 11.1% 8.0%
700-799 lbs. N/A N/A 9.5% N/A 28.6% 19.7%
800+ lbs. N/A N/A 21.1% N/A 25.0% 21.3%
TOTAL 8.5% -12.5% 6.1% -7.1% -5.0% 15.1%
[1] Individual weight categories include states that are N/A
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