Most folks expected cattle placed in feedlots during February to be significantly less than last year. Supplies are too tight and feedlots continue to lose too much money.

The average estimate heading into Friday’s monthly Cattle on Feed report was for placements to be down about 9%. Instead, placements (1.48 million head) were down a staggering 14%. Of those, 60% weighed 700 lbs. or more.

Marketings in March (1.64 million head) were 7% less than a year ago. The average pre-report estimate was 7.2% less.

All told, cattle on feed in March 1 (10.9 million head) are 7% less than the previous March. The average estimate ahead of the report was for a decline of 6.5%.

Earlier in the week, Len Steiner and Steve Meyer pointed out in their Daily Livestock Report that inventories of 10.918 million head (the pre-report estimate) would be 759,000 less than a year earlier.

“That is the largest year-on-year decline recorded in this most recent reduction cycle,” Steiner and Meyer say. “Inventories were 738,000 lower on Feb. 1, and have been at least 635,000 smaller than one year earlier since November.”

Instead of the inventory being 759,000 head fewer, it’s down about 820,000 head.

 

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