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Ag economist says placements number will be critical in coming months

Cattle placements came in below pre-report expectations in the USDA’s latest On Feed report.

University of Missouri’s Scott Brown says it was a matter of time. “January and February were both tough,” he says. “January was cold. We ended up below what we would have maybe thought placements were. We made up for that in February. Now, March gives us a better feel of where that placement number is heading going forward.”

He tells Brownfield the placements number will be critical in the coming months. “Cow-calf producers are going to be in the driver’s seat here for a little bit,” he says. “That’s how it appears.  What happens to the rest of the market participants? Packers, feedlot operators, etc. We need all of them, but it may certainly get tough in some cases.”

Brown says heifers placed on feed declined from the previous quarter to 38.5%.  “But, by itself, it tells me we’re not holding heifers back to build the herd,” he says. “Let’s start with that piece of the news.”

Brown says there is a point that will signal herd growth has started. “We’ve got to 36% or so below before I begin to think maybe we’re thinking about building the herd,” he says.

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