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U.S. cattle on feed down for 22nd consecutive month

Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

U.S. cattle supplies continue to tighten, posting lower numbers on feed, placed on feed and marketed for slaughter compared with year-ago levels.

Cattle on feed in U.S. feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more on June 1 were down 2 percent year over year at 10.6 million head, down 112,000 head from June 1, 2013, according to USDA National Statistics Service’s latest cattle on feed report, released June 20.

The number of cattle placed into those large feedlots in May was down 7 percent year over year at 1.91 million, a drop of 143,000 head. The number of fed cattle marketed was down 4 percent at 1.87 million, a decline of 92,000 head, and the lowest May marketing since the NASS series began in 1996.

Analysts expected on-feed numbers to be down 1.7 percent, placement numbers to be down 7.4 percent and marketings to be down 4.4 percent.

While cattle on feed are down slightly and in line with trade expectations, it is the 22nd consecutive month of year-over-year inventory decline.

Cattle on feed were up in four of the 12 top cattle states, down in seven and steady in one compared with year-ago levels.

The largest declines were seen in Texas, down 80,000 head to 2.55 million; California, down 75,000 head to 435,000; Nebraska, down 70,000 to 2.41 million; Kansas, down 50,000 head to 2.02 million; and Oklahoma, down 45,000 head to 265,000.

The largest gains in on-feed numbers were in Iowa, up 30,000 head to 640,000 and South Dakota, up 10,000 head to 225,000.

Placements into feedlots were lower in 10 of the 12 reporting states and up in two compared with year-ago placements. The largest decline in placements were in Nebraska, down 55,000 head to 425,000; Colorado, down 30,000 head to 140,000; and California, down 22,000 to 50,000.

Increased placements were in Texas, up 10,000 head to 40,000 and Kansas, up 5,000 head to 435,000.

Fed cattle marketed in May were down in 10 of the top states and up in two states.

The largest declines in fed marketings were in Nebraska, down 25,000 head to 485,000, and Texas, down 15,000 head to 450,00.

Increases in fed marketings were in California, up 14,000 head to 60,000, and Minnesota, up 7,000 head to 22,000.

Tight cattle supplies continue to support strong cattle prices. The weighted average price for live fed steers last week was $149.04 per hundredweight, down 36 cents per hundredweight from the previous week but up $29.11 per hundredweight from a year ago, according to Livestock Marketing Information Center and based on USDA data.

Feeder cattle prices at last week’s Oklahoma City auction were $6 to $10 per hundredweight higher than the previous week, reports Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri ag economists.

Last week’s prices for #1 steers sold for $264-$280 per hundredweight for 400-450 pounds steers $238-$268 for 500-550 pound steer; $209-$227 for 600-650 pound steers; $200-$218 for 700-750 pound steers and $191-$209 for 800-900 pound steers, the economists reported.

“There still seems to be plenty of helium left in the feeder cattle market balloon and no bearish slingshots have been true enough to threaten the rise,” USDA’s Ag Market News reported in its June 20 summary.

Feeder cattle prices have advanced $40 to $55 per hundredweight so far this year with calves as much as $70 per hundredweight higher through the first six months of the year, the agency reported.



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