Last Friday's monthly Cattle on Feed Report (COF) likely will cast an unexpected pall over the marketplace: more monthly cattle placement was reported than most every market analyst had predicted. Total cattle on feed was reported at 10.9 million head, 5% ahead of last year and 7% more than 2004. Marketings were reported at 2.2 million head, 6% more than the same time last year and 6% more than two years ago.
It was the June placements that shook things up, though -- 10% more than a year ago, 18% more than two years ago. That's the second highest placement for the month since the series was established a decade ago.
"Maybe the placement total should not have been such a shock as we recall a handsome June feeder market, extremely dry conditions, and June nationwide reported auction totals that were 19% higher than last year," say reporters for the Ag Marketing Service. "Feedlot placements weighing under 700 lbs. dominated the data and were more than 30% over last year, while weights over 700 lbs. were 5% less than a year ago."
For the record, the mid-year Cattle Inventory Report, also issued on Friday, pegs all cattle and calves at 105.7 million head, up 1% from July last year and 2% above 2004. Beef cows (33.9 million head) are up less than 1% compared to last year; they're up 1% compared to two years ago. The estimated inventory of beef replacement heifers remains unchanged at 5 million head.