Continued contraction in cattle industry

A livestock economist says USDA’s February Cattle on Feed report indicated more contraction in the industry.

University of Missouri’s Scott Brown says, “I don’t read too much into the fact that placements succeeded pre-report (estimates) just because of that cold weather uncertainty I think really drove some to knock those placements down more than what we got out of the report.”

The report said placements to start 2024 were 1.8 million head, a decrease of 7% on the year, leading to tighter ready numbers this spring and summer.

Brown says cattle and beef supplies continue to tighten. “We’re still probably in line by the time we get to summer to be talking about record prices across the board perhaps in terms of where we’re at in the cattle side.”

He says lighter weights, less than 600 pounds, had the biggest reductions in the USDA report.

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