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Large Increase for Cattle on Feed, Highest April Report Since 2006

Continuing a 16 month trend of increases the latest Cattle on Feed report showed a year-over-year rise by 7% for April.

The feedlot inventory has risen by 5% or more each month since October 2017. The last time the Cattle on Feed report showed a decrease was in December 2016.

The latest Cattle on Feed report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the feedlot inventory on April 1, 2018, was 11.7 million head for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head. Last year there were nearly 1 million fewer cattle in feedlots at the same time.

This month’s inventory is the second highest reported for April since the series began in 1996. The last time the feedlot cattle inventory was higher occurred in April 2006.

For April 2018 there were 7.54 million steers, up 4% from last year and accounting for 64% of the total inventory. Heifers on feed was up 14% since last year with 4.19 million reported.

Several states saw large year-over-year increases in cattle on feed inventory. The top five increases were seen in:

  1. Arizona 23.0%
  2. California 20.5%
  3. Iowa 10.4%
  4. Texas 9.8%
  5. Nebraska 9.3%

Idaho was the only state in the report to have a drop with 10,000 fewer cattle for a decline of 3.8%.

The trend in rising inventories could slow however as placements were down 9% from last year with 1.9 million cattle placed in March. Last year there were 2.1 million cattle placed during March. The two highest placed categories of cattle were 700-799 pounds at 530,000 head and 800-899 pounds at 531,000 head.

Fed cattle marketings in March were down 4% from 2017, totaling 1.84 million head.

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