Cattle on Feed Sees Largest Increase in 6 Years

By: Wyatt Bechtel, for Drovers

For the first time in more than six years the cattle on feed inventory increased by 8% from the previous year. The last time the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported such an increase was for August 2011.

There were 11.5 million head of cattle and calves on feed reported on Dec. 1, 2017 for the latest report, an increase of 864,000 head from the same time in 2016.

The Cattle on Feed report has been on an increase every month of 2017. It is a reversal in the cattle cycle when the last time this kind of movement happened it was an 8% decrease in October 2013.

November placements indicate even higher increases could be seen with a 14 increase versus last year in placements. A total of 2.1 million cattle enter feedlots in November.

Placements by weight class for November were as follows:

  • 600 lb. and less = 610,000 head
  • 600-699 lb. = 545,000 head
  • 700-799 lb. = 455,000 head
  • 800-899 lb. = 294,000 head
  • 900-999 lb. = 75,000 head
  • 1,000 lb. and greater = 120,000 head

Marketings of fed cattle were up 3% in November compared to 2016, with a total of 1.84 million fed cattle entering packers. This was the highest marketings for November since USDA began the report in 1996.

All state reporting saw increases year-over year for cattle on feed. States seeing double digit increases in cattle on feed from the previous year were California 12%, Iowa 17% and Washington 10%.

The top five states for cattle on feed inventory were:

  • Texas 2.64 million
  • Nebraska 2.52 million
  • Kansas 2.29 million
  • Colorado 980,000
  • Iowa 690,000



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