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Market Reports

Read new forecasts and indicators involving beef cattle and feed markets. Find out what factors are affecting prices.

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This month, beef production for 2018 was revised downward by 40 million pounds to 27.69 billion pounds. In part, this change reflects a combination of slower-than-expected slaughter and lighter cattle weights in the first quarter.

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The April 1 inventory of feedlots with over 1,000-head capacity was 11.729 million head, up 7.4 percent from last year. This report was very close to pre-report estimates and contained no surprises. Feedlot marketings in March were 96.1 percent of last year, just about even with last year considering that there was one less March business day in 2018 compared to one year ago. March placements were 90.7 percent of last year. While close to expectations, this placement number is significant because it breaks a string of 12 consecutive months of year-over-year placement increases.

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So far in 2018, beef production is higher year over year as expected, with increased cattle slaughter and carcass weights. Beef demand has continued strong, carrying forward momentum from 2017. Cattle prices, both feeder and fed, along with wholesale and retail beef prices have generally been higher year over year so far this year.

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The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its semi-annual Cattle report. The number of cattle and calves estimated on Jan. 1, 2018, reached 94.4 million head, which was 0.7 percent higher year-over-year and the fourth year of expansion.

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The USDA Cattle on Feed report was released Friday, and the news was neutral to longer term bearish. Marketings matched pre-report expectations; on-feed inventories were slightly heavy but again close to expectations, while placements were above the highest estimate for the range of expectations.

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In October and November, dry conditions persisted in the Southern Plains, stressing pasture and forage supplies and likely directing calves that might have otherwise been placed on pasture into feedlots.

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