Feedlot Inventory Up Slightly

The following report was prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP’s livestock and meat specialist. This report draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA reports.

Last Friday’s USDA Cattle on Feed report showed the feedlot inventory slightly above a year ago. Placements during January were higher than expected at 1.79 million head, which was 7 percent below last year. The average trade guess put placements down 11 percent from last January, with many analysts believing winter weather at the beginning of the year slowed cattle movement.

January beef production was down 2 percent from last year, with harvest down 3 percent. The average weight was up nine pounds, to an average of 1,389 pounds. Beef cow harvest was 12.6 percent lower than a year ago. Last week’s estimated harvest was 593,000, making it 15,000 head less than the prior week and down 21,000 from the same week a year ago. Heifers made up 32 percent of the total.

Feeder cattle auctions have been higher over the past two weeks. The Choice beef cutout averaged $298.53 last week for a gain of $4.16 while the Select cutout averaged $286.36. The spread between Choice and Select will likely widen as fed cattle supplies tighten.

Fed cattle prices were higher again this week at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets.

High Choice and Prime beef breed steers and heifers brought $170 to $178/cwt, with some to $185/cwt and a few higher. Choice steers and heifers ranged from $160 to $170/cwt, with mixed grading and those likely to grade Select bringing $152 to $160/cwt. Holstein steers were steady to higher. High grading steers brought to $152 to $160/cwt, with some higher. Lower grading steers brought $125 to $151. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75 to $125/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were higher, bringing $128 to $172/cwt, with a few higher.

Cows were $1 higher. A bulk of the cows brought $83 to $110/cwt with some fleshier dairy and beef cows selling to 119/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $83/cwt and down.

Dairy breed bull calves were fully steady, bringing $200 to $400/cwt with some heavier, well-managed calves selling to $650. Beef and Beef Cross calves were higher selling up to $900/cwt.