US feedlot sector ready for heavy marketing

01 October 2015

The most recent Cattle On Feed report, released by the USDA, showed that on 1 September, 9.99 million cattle were in feedlots with a capacity of over 1,000 head. This was 2.7% higher than the same time last year, and is the highest September total since 2012.

The more telling number from the report, however, is the very large number of cattle (3.6 million head) that have been on feed for over 120 days. This figure is 18% higher than last year, and even higher again compared with the average of the previous five years. This suggests plenty of slaughter-ready cattle to come onto the market over the next few months – at a time when cattle and beef prices have already been dropping in the US, and beef demand is seasonally relatively weak.

With so many cattle on feed for a long period of time, average carcase weights are reaching record highs – steers up to around 920lbs (almost 420kg), which is far heavier than the average of 890lbs this time last year. These heavy animals coming out of feedlots are also contributing to the excess supply of fatty trimmings, which are trading at values lower than half the price of 12 months ago.

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