Looking for signs of expansion in the cattle herd

An ag economist says he’s looking for signs of herd expansion in the USDA’s reports this week.

University of Missouri’s Scott Brown says he’s watching placements in Friday’s Cattle on Feed report – especially after the January numbers. “But, January was so cold there was a lot of discussion about how much placements were going to be down in the January pre-report relative to what we actually got in January, he says.  “Pre-report would have suggested a lot lower placements. How does that all balance now that we look at what we’re going to get from February?”

He tells Brownfield he’s also watching the beef cow slaughter numbers which come out in Thursday afternoon’s Livestock Slaughter report. “Beef cow slaughter being down in January,” he says. “When we got livestock slaughter last month, is it two months in a row. Or was January down because it was also bitterly cold for a period of time as well?”

Brown says drought conditions, pasture availability, and input costs are all factors that are being considered as producers contemplate expansion.

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