Cattle On Feed Numbers Show Dramatic Impact Of Pandemic

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The latest USDA cattle on feed report reflects the severe disruptions in cattle slaughter last month due to the coronavirus pandemic. The May 1 U.S. feedlot inventory was 11.2 million head, down 5.1% year-over-year. The Kansas inventory was down 3% at 2.32 million head.

April marketings across the U.S. were down 24.3% from last year, a decrease of 433,000 head. Fed cattle marketings in Kansas for the month of April totaled 310,000 head, down 26% from 2019. The decreased U.S. feedlot marketings in April followed a 13.1% year-over-year increase in March. According to Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist Darrell Peel, the slowdown in April and resulting backlog of cattle in feedlots would have been more severe without the strong March marketings that pulled some cattle ahead.

Nationally, April placements were down 22%. Peel said this followed a 23% drop in March. Combined, March and April placements were down 867,000 head from last year. In Kansas, placements during April totaled 355,000 head, down 18% from 2019. Although the feedlot industry will spend much of the summer working through the backlog of fed cattle, Peel said the hole from March and April feedlot placements should provide a marketing window to catch up by this fall, if not before.

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