Cattle traders were mildly surprised by USDA’s April cattle on feed report as both placements and the total on feed numbers came in higher than expected.
Total cattle on feed were pegged at 10.8 million head, slightly higher than last year. The placement of 1.81 million head during March was equal to last year’s total, but 4.5% higher than traders expected in a pre-report survey. Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 1.63 million head, 2% below 2014. March Marketings are the lowest since the series began in 1996.
Data in the report also supports ideas the industry is in full expansion mode. The number of heifers on feed totaled 3.34 million head, down 10% from 2014. The number of steers and steer calves on feed totaled 7.46 million head, up 5% from last year, and accounts for 69% of the total.