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US feedlot herd hits highest February total in 12 years


The US Department of Agriculture’s monthly on-feed report released Friday afternoon showed the number of cattle in US feedyards with a capacity of 1,000 or more head as of February 1 at nearly 2.2% above a year ago.


That was just 0.2 percentage point below the average guess of analysts participating in the Urner Barry survey, and was the largest for that date since 2008.


The placement number for January was 99.4% of a year ago, 2.5% below the average guess of 101.9%. The range of the guesses for placements was 2.2% under to 3.5% over a year ago.


Marketings for January were reported at 101.0% of a year ago, on target with the average guess of 101.0%. January had the same number of weekdays and Saturdays as a year ago.


Herd total

USDA reported 11.928m head in the nation’s feedyards as of February 1, down 30,000 head from 11.958m the previous month.


That compares with 11.676m a year ago and a five-year average for that date of 11.104m head. The average of analysts’ estimates for the on-feed figure was 11.958m head.


Placements for January were 1.955m head, 2.0% over the five-year average of 1.917m head.


USDA reported marketings, or those sent to slaughter, in January at 1.931m head. The marketing figure was 10.5% above the five-year average of 1.747m.


The data were viewed as neutral to slightly bullish for futures, since the number of placements came in at less than expected.

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