Cattle On Feed: Herd Expansion Impacting Feedlots

February 25, 2016 11:27 AM

As the cow herd continues to rebuild feedlots carry on with business seeing fewer calves in pens.

There were 7% fewer heifers in feedlots on Jan. 1 compared to the same time last year. Approximately 267,000 fewer heifers were in feedlots to start 2016, indicating more replacement heifers are being retained.

January placements were down 1% from 2015 with 1.78 million head of calves entering feedlots, according to USDA’s Cattle On Feed report.

Overall feedlots with 1,000 or more capacity had 10.7 million head of cattle on feed on Feb. 1, down 40,000 head from the same time last year.


Feedlot cattle appear to be moving north and east as Minnesota and South Dakota both saw large increases in feedlot capacities. Minnesota was up 12% from last year and 2% from last month. South Dakota was up 13% for the year and 2% for the month. Those states combine for a total capacity of 410,000 head in feedlots with 1,000-plus capacity.

Moving to the south, Texas is down 60,000 head from last year and Nebraska has slid 80,000 head in capacity. Washington saw the largest percentage decrease at 7% from last year.

Fed cattle marketings were at their lowest marks since USDA began running the series in 1996. A total of 1.59 million head of cattle went to packers in January, a 2% drop from 2015.

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