The US Department of Agriculture’s monthly on-feed report showed the number of cattle in US feedyards with a capacity of 1,000 or more head as of March 1 just 0.2% above a year ago, on par with the average guess of analysts participating in the Urner Barry survey.
The placement number for February was 92.1% of a year ago, 0.3% below the average guess of 92.4%.
The range of the guesses for placements was 2.9% to 11% under a year ago.
This is the lowest February placement since 2017.
Some industry participants suspect that the sharp decline in placements is a result of the drastic decline in cash cattle and futures prices since the onset of the coronavirus.
Herd grows year on year
Marketings for February were reported at 105.5% of a year ago, nearly on target with the average guess of 105.6%.
February had the same number of weekdays and one more Saturday as a year ago.
USDA reported 11.806m head in the nation’s feedyards as of March 1, down 122,000 head from 11.928m the previous month.
That compares with 11.785m a year ago and a five-year average for that date of 11.104m head.
Placements for February were 1.711m head, 1% below the five-year average of 1.726m.
USDA reported marketings, or those sent to slaughter, in February at 1.775m head. The marketing figure was 9.4% above the five-year average of 1.623m.
The data were viewed as neutral for futures when trading resumes Monday since the number of placements came in near expectations.