Placements higher in November

Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist


In the latest USDA Cattle on feed report, the December 1, 2019 feedlot inventory was 12.03 million head, 102.5 percent of last year and the highest December total since 2011.  The December inventory was the highest monthly total for year, as it has been six of the last ten years.  The annual average feedlot inventory in 2019 was 11.62 million head, the highest twelve month moving average since the current data series began in 1996.


November marketings were 1.813 million head, 97 percent of last year and about as expected.  Marketings in Texas were sharply lower at 91 percent of year ago levels and were down year over year in Nebraska (97 percent) and Iowa (73 percent) as well.  Marketings in Kansas were 103 percent of last year and marketings were sharply higher year over year in South Dakota (145 percent), Oklahoma (114 percent) and Idaho (107 percent). 


Placements in November were 104.9 percent of one year ago at 2.093 million head.  November placements were generally higher than expected and included a 12.7 percent year over year increase in placements of cattle under 600 pounds.  This likely reflects a somewhat delayed fall calf run combined with slow development of wheat pasture in the southern plains.  In Texas, placements of cattle under 600 pounds were up 17.6 percent and placements weighing 600-700 pounds were up 9.1 percent with total Texas placements in November at 103 percent of one year ago.  Placements were sharply higher year over year in South Dakota (160 percent), Colorado (132 percent) and Oklahoma (112 percent).  Placements in Kansas and Iowa were 104 percent of one year ago and Nebraska placements were even with last year.


Higher placements the last three months have rebuilt feedlot inventories going into 2020.  This follows year over year decreases in placements May through August that briefly pulled feedlot inventories below year earlier levels in September and October.  Despite a jump in lightweight placements in November, fall placements have included higher than typical proportions of heavy placements.  From August through November, placements under 700 pounds were unchanged year over year while placements weighing more than 700 pounds were 3.8 percent higher than last year.  Feedlots will be a bit front loaded in the first quarter of the New Year and marketings are expected strong against the April Live cattle futures contract.  Of course, weather often impacts cattle performance and the timing of feedlot production this time of the year and may affect feedlot marketings through the winter.


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