March cattle placements hit new monthly high


A record number of cattle were placed on feed in March 2017.

The USDA says the total of 2.102 million head was up 11% on the year, reflecting better pasture conditions, the continued re-expansion of the U.S. herd, and expected strong beef demand. By weight, placements of cattle weighing less than 600 pounds were 350,000 head, 600 to 699 pound placements were 295,000 head, and 700 to 799 pound placements were 620,000 head, while 800 to 899 pound placements totaled 585,000 head, 900 to 999 pounders made up 185,000 head, and placements of cattle weighing 1,000 pounds and heavier were 67,000 head. Cattle placed on feed in late winter and early spring will head to market later this year.

Marketings were 10% above March 2016 at 1.914 million head as last year’s placements head to slaughter.

The total number of cattle on feed on April 1st, 2017 was slightly above a year ago at 10.904 million head with a 5% increase in heifers and heifer calves cancelling out a 2% decrease in steers and steer calves.

Other disappearances were 56,000 head, 10% below a year ago.

The numbers look bearish, but that may be blunted by deferred contracts’ big discount to recent cash prices.

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