Cattle Inventory Report: Cattle Herd Slightly Bigger Than Expected

Posted on 03/09/2017 10:24 AM

USDA's Cattle Inventory Report showed the U.S. cattle herd has expanded slightly more than anticipated and will continue to grow, as most categories came in slightly above the average pre-report estimates. All cattle and calves in the U.S. as of Jan. 1 totaled 91.988 million head, up 3.2% from year-ago and 392,000 head greater than the average estimate implied.

Cattle Inventory Report

USDA

Avg. trade estimate

Range

 
 
 
 
 

% of year-ago

All cattle & calves

103

102.0

101.5-102.3

2015 calf crop

102

102.4

101.2-104.1

Total cows/heifers calved

103

102.6

101.9-103.8

Beef cows/heifers calved

104

103.4

102.4-105.1

Milk cows/heifers calved

100

100.2

99.9-100.5

Heifers 500 lbs. and over

103

101.3

100.4-102.2

Beef replacement heifers

103

105.0

103.5-107.3

Milk replacement heifers

102

99.7

98.6-100.7

Other heifers

103

99.7

99.5-100.0

Steers 500 pounds and over

104

101.7

100.6-103.0

Bulls 500 pounds and over

102

101.2

99.8-102.6

Calves under 500 pounds

104

101.8

101.2-102.3


While beef replacement heifers were lighter than anticipated, the figure was still 3.3% greater than year-ago. Beef heifers that are expected to calve during 2016 are up 5.7% from year-ago, while beef cows and heifers that calved this year were 3.5% greater than year-ago. That suggests the 2016 calf crop should increase by roughly 3.8% this year compared to the 2.3% increase in calf numbers this year.

With most of the categories coming in above expectations, the report gets a negative read. While expansion plans aren't quite as big as anticipated, the data still signals a growing U.S. cattle herd. This report does nothing to change our beliefs that upside potential is limited on rallies and that extended price strength should be viewed as a hedging opportunity.

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