USDA Reports Dramatic March Cattle Feed Numbers

The USDA’s most recent cattle feed lot activity report shows some fairly dramatic numbers for the month of March. USDA’s Livestock Analyst, Shayle Shagum said the numbers are dramatic: feedlot placements only about 1.6 million head, down 22% from March a year ago; lowest March placement number on record, leaving feedlots April first with 11.3 million head, down 5% from a year ago.

The reason for the low placements?

“Just the level of uncertainty,” Shagum noted. “What does the cattle market look like going forward? With relatively low prices going forward, feedlots were probably very concerned about their ability to have positive margins. And we’re probably pushing back on their desire to put cattle in to the feedlots.”

And for cow/calf operators with forage, they’re willing to hold on the animals longer, “And hope that there will be some improvement in prices going forward,” Shagum noted.

But with all the disruptions in the beef production chain, markets are unpredictable, Shagum says what we’re looking at is different from anything he’s ever seen in his career.

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