USDA will release its monthly Cattle on Feed report this Friday afternoon. The report will detail activity in the major feedlots across the country during January of this year, with total cattle on feed as of Feb. 1. January placements are expected to be 6.2% larger than last year. Total Cattle on Feed as of Feb. 1 will likely be 5.9% larger than last year.
For the past six months cattle placement numbers have been higher. But, because of the time it takes to get placement cattle to market, the industry knows placement levels will switch to below last year levels soon. The only argument is in which month that change happens. Meanwhile, expectations are that the Marketing total will be 1% smaller than January of 2010.
Better winter weather could have boosted January placements even higher. Therefore, the availability of calves and feeders is a problem and it will get even worse as spring comes. Feeding costs will become influencing factors, as March corn futures averaged $5.92 in December and rose over 43 cents to $6.35 1/4 in January.