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The monthly update on activity in the nation’s feedlots came in very close to trade expectations. The number of new calves and feeders starting their feeding experience, placements, was 1.0% higher than last year. That was right next to the analyst guess of a 1.9% increase. This ended the string of six straight months of lower placements. It is likely that sharply lower corn prices gave cattle feeders a little more confidence than recently. Cattle placed in September are marketed between February and June. USDA’s breakdown of weights suggested those numbers could be spread out evenly during that slaughter period.
The number of cattle finishing their feeding period in the feedlot, marketings, was 0.5% smaller than last year. That was right next to the analyst expectation of a 0.9% decrease. This number may seem confusing when you compare it against the weekly numbers you heard last month which were around a 6% yr/yr decrease. USDA’s number was adjusted higher due to one more weekly than last year. With a slight increase in placements and a slight decline in marketings the total feedlot population grew from a 0.8% discount in September to now a 0.5% yr/yr decline in October.
This week’s beef production ran 474 million lbs. This is within the range from the past five weeks. We expect the same production level, 5% under last year, to run through the end of the year. Our key focus though is the hotly contested first quarter. The smallest kill week of the year is in February. We may see…
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