Mike Pearson tells listeners what the USDA's February cattle on feed report highlighting some trends in the industry and the impact.

February 27, 2024

Mike Pearson talks about the February edition of the cattle on feed report produced by the USDA.

The report only counts the cattle in feedlots with 1,000 head. The report shows 11.8 million cattle and calves on feed. It's important to note that many cattle don't get counted because the producer has less than 1,000 cattle.

The 11.8 million was an uptick from 2023 and was a little higher than what analysts were projecting.

The total placements were down 7 percent from last year. 1.79 million head showed an overall decline but this matched the decline of the overall beef herd.

Overall, 370,000 calves weighing less than 600 pounds were moved into feedlots last month. However a decline was noted for cattle weighing between 900-1,000 pounds.

However, the placement was higher than what most analysts projected due to the two big snow storms that hit the USA which was expected to slow cattle movement in the countryside.

The total placement was expected to be down 20 percent so the 7 percent levels were a good sign but it could hit the markets.

The one thing clear is that the beef herd continues to shrink.

Prices should remain steady but a good reason will be needed move prices higher than they were in 2023.

Something to note in the report was that the cattle are not where they used to be. Texas was down 40,000 head and Kansas was short 90,000 head. However, Iowa, South Dakota and Idaho reported 10,000 more thousand cattle in each state at feedlots.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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