U.S. ranchers on June 1 had placed slightly more cattle on feed than they did a year ago, while the May comparison showed a sharp contrast.
USDA’s Cattle on Feed report June 22 showed that the inventory at feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.1 million head on June 1, a 2 percent increase over the year-ago figure.
Analysts polled by Dow Jones on average expected a 7 percent increase in the June numbers.
However, their expectations (14.2 percent on average) were more or less met with May numbers. Placements in feedlots during May totaled 2.09 million, 15 percent above 2011. Net placements were 1.99 million head.
During May, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 520,000, 600-699 pounds were 365,000, 700-799 pounds were 530,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 672,000.
Livestock analysts Steve Meyer and Len Steiner noted prior to the report that longer wheat grazing likely would produce heavier cattle.
But they weren’t convinced the higher numbers resulted from expanding dry conditions and poor pastures; pasture conditions in May were fairly normal and actually improved dramatically in the Southern Plains, compared with a year ago.
Deterioration in pasture conditions began in late May and early June, a trend that should impact the next feedlot report, they noted.
Rather, Meyer and Steiner point to steady growth in feeder cattle imports from Mexico and Canada, accounting for nearly one in four of the 15 percent increase in placements.
Drought in the Northern States pushed more feeders into U.S. feedlots, particularly in Texas.
Feeder imports from Mexico rose 33 percent in the April 29-June 2 period, compared with the same period last year, while those from Canada jumped 180 percent.
“The jump in placements will likely be short lived,” they wrote in the Daily Livestock Report. “Worsening pasture conditions are a concern, but it is unlikely we will get anywhere close to the disaster we experienced last year.”
Marketings of fed cattle during May, meanwhile, totaled 2.02 million, a 1 percent increase above 2011. Analysts expected a 5 percent increase in marketings.
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