“One of these months, USDA's Cattle on Feed (COF) report will reflect just how short supplies really are and this could bring a newfound spark to the industry after most of the bulls have left the room,” analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) said Friday. 

In the meantime, both feedlot inventories and placements continue higher, according to last Friday's COF report.

Cattle on feed March 1 was pegged at 11.7 million head, 3% more than the previous year and at the upper end of pre-release estimates (the average estimate was 102.3%).

Placements in February were 1.71 million head, also 3% more than the previous year, in line with the average estimate of 102.7% heading into the report.

Marketings in February were 1.76 million head, 2% less than the previous year. That's more bullish that the average pre-release estimate than pegged marketings at only 0.5% less.

“Feedlot headcounts have consistently posted year-over-year increases for nearly two years now, leaving many participants to wonder if the number of smaller feeding facilities that don’t report, and those ceasing operations, have affected the data by shifting a larger percentage of the cattle to larger facilities,” AMS analysts say.