Cattle on Feed Report: Sharp Drop In Placements Confirmed

Posted on 04/20/2018 2:41 PM

Traders expected the string of hefty cattle placements to come to an end in March, and that’s exactly what USDA’s Cattle on Feed Report showed. March placements dropped 9.3% from last year, suggesting poor wheat pasture conditions inflated winter placement figures. While placements declined sharply, the U.S. April 1 feedlot inventory still topped year-ago by 7.4% at 11.729 million head, which was in line with expectations. 


Cattle on Feed Report

 (% of year-ago)

Avg. Trade Estimate
(% of year-ago)

On Feed April 1



Placements in March



Marketings in March



A weight breakdown shows placements declined in all but the two heaviest categories. And placements of 9-weight and heavyweight cattle accounted for only 13.5% of the total number of animals moved into feedlots last month. Lightweight (under 600 lbs.) placements dropped 10.0%, 6-weights were down 3.4%, 7-weights were down 15.9% and 8-weight placements declined 10.0%.

USDA’s quarterly breakdown of feedlot numbers by class shows April 1 steer numbers were up 295,000 head (4.1%) from last year, while heifers were up 515,000 head (14.0%). This is even more proof herd expansion is done as more females are being moved into feedlots.

With today’s number basically right in line with pre-report expectations, there should be no major price response on Monday. Focus will remain on short-term cash fundamentals and longer-term demand prospects as feedlot supplies continue to build. 

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