The USDA's new count on the number of cattle and calves in feedlots shows that the cattle industry may be shrinking more than thought.
Agriculture Department livestock analyst Joel Greene says that August feedlot numbers were down 4% from a year ago and a full 9 % from two years ago and that the number of cattle placed in feedlots in July, about 1.6 million, was the second lowest July number on record.
"That probably indicates that we had some fairly good grass conditions still out there in the country," Greene says. "Producers are keeping those cattle on grass longer instead of placing them given the high feed costs right now."
Greene says eventually those cattle will be coming to feedlots, probably later this fall, which will increase placements, but still put them behind typical feedlot numbers.