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US feedlot cattle herd makes strongest start to year since 2008


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 January 1 at nearly 2.3% above a year ago, about 0.2 percentage point above the average guess of analysts participating in the Urner Barry survey and the largest for that date since 2008.


The placement number for December was 103.5% of a year ago, just 0.2 percentage points above the average guess of 103.3%.


The range of the guesses for placements was 0.5% to 6.5% over a year ago.


Marketings for December were reported at 105.3% of a year ago, on target with the average guess of 105.3%.


December had one more weekday, but one less Saturday compared with 2018.


Herd total

USDA reported 11.958m head in the nation’s feedyards as of January 1, down 73,000 head from 12.031m the previous month.


That compares with 11.690m a year ago and a five-year average for that date of 10.997m head.


The average of analysts’ estimates for the on-feed figure was 11.935m head.


Market implications?

Placements for December were 1.828m head, 8.5% over the five-year average of 1.685m.


USDA reported marketings, or those sent to slaughter, in December at 1.834m head.


The marketing figure was 6.5% above the five-year average of 1.722m.


The data were viewed as neutral for futures when trading resumes Monday.

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