Feedyards aggressively placed cattle on feed last month, with 1.65 million new arrivals during February, according to USDA. The total was 15 percent more than the same month a year ago. The heavy placements brought total cattle on feed to 10.79 million head, just 1 percent less than last year. Marketings for February were pegged at 1.55 million head, 3 percent below 2013 and the lowest number since the data series began in 1996.
Traders expected placements to be large, and most will see the report as bearish to the market long-term. However, comparing the February placement number to historical data show it’s not an aberration at 97 percent of the five-year-average. Heavier placements will show up later this summer with increasing fed cattle supplies.
Feedyards have been encouraged in recent weeks with good profits and higher prices. Last week market-ready cattle sold at $150 to $153 per cwt., $2 higher than the previous week. Slaughter cows steady to $2 higher, and slaughter bulls steady to $3 higher.