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In The Cattle Markets: Feedlot Placements up Considerably

June 30, 2016

The monthly Cattle on Feed Report was released last Friday, June 24, by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS). Numbers came in very similar to the average pre-report estimates. Total cattle on feed (U.S. feedlots over 1,000 head capacity on June 1 was up 2.2% over 2015 at 10.799 million head.

Placements in feedlots during May totaled 1.884 million head. This was as expected, up 9.6% compared to May 2015 and up 13.2% over previous month. This is the fourth month in a row where placements have seen a year-over-year increase. The Southern Plains continued another month of larger year-over-year increases in placements. Oklahoma had the largest percent increase in placements up 38.8% compared to May 2015, with Kansas up 21.7% and Texas up 13.1%. Nebraska also saw an increase in placements up 3.8% over year ago levels. The higher number of placements in the last four months means more fed cattle hitting the market in September and October. This could put downward pressure on markets this fall.

The trend of increasing heavy placements continued again this month, with cattle weighing between 700-799 pounds up 23% and cattle larger than 800 pounds up 19.7% over year ago levels. Placements for cattle weighing under 600 pounds was down 15.3% and cattle between 600-699 pounds was down 3.8%.

May marketings were as expected. Marketings were at 1.794 million head, up 4.7% over May 2015. This is up 8.2% over April marketings. The heavier weights of cattle being placed translates into quicker turnover in the feedyards. The number of cattle on feed over 120 days continues to be below year ago levels.

The markets
Compared to week ago levels, fed steer prices and boxed beef prices trended lower. The 5-area live fed steer prices was down at $116.74/cwt and choice boxed beef prices were $216.85/cwt. Feeder steer prices in Nebraska were up compared to the prior week. Corn prices were down for the week trading at $3.96/bu in Omaha.

Source: Kate Brooks, University of Nebraska-Lincoln