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Livestock economist says supplies of cattle will continue to tighten

A livestock economist says there were a couple of factors that contributed to February placements into feedyards that were nearly 10% above year-ago levels. University of Missouri’s Scott Brown tells Brownfield in addition to the extra day because of the Leap Year. “ January was bitterly cold and we had a lot of those auction markets closed down for a period of time,” he says.  “We probably pulled some calves from January into February because all that cold weather.”

He says the industry is a long way from how tight placements could get in the coming months. “When you look back at 2015 and early 2016, we got as low as almost a little below 20.5 million head of placements,” he says. “We’re sitting here today at about 22 and a half million head.”

Brown says numbers will continue to get tighter – especially once the cattle industry decides it’s time to expand. “You know, we’re not doing anything that really suggests we’re building the herd,” he says. “When you look at Heffer slaughter as well, you know, we saw February heifer slaughter up 39,000 head. It tells me that we’re not holding heifers back either.”

Brown says the industry still needs to see some forage recovery in parts of cattle country before widespread expansion occurs.

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