Drought Influences Cattle on Feed
By : DERRELL S. PEEL, OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION LIVESTOCK MARKETING SPECIALIST
Drought conditions in the Southern Plains likely contributed to larger than expected feedlot placements in the latest Cattle on Feed report. Total January placements were 104.4 percent of last year, with Texas up 11.1 percent year over year and Oklahoma up 30.6 percent from one year ago. Feedlots placed 8.6 percent more cattle in the September to January period compared to one year ago. Total feedlot marketings in January were 106.1 percent of one year ago. The February 1 on-feed total was 107.9 percent of last year.
Limited winter grazing numbers and early movement of wheat pasture cattle to feedlots means that little of the normal March run of wheat pasture cattle will be seen this year in the Southern Plains. Likewise few cattle remain or are likely to be purchased for wheat grazeout. Early placement of feeders in the feedlots means that the short term supply of feeder cattle outside of feedlots is tighter, as reflected in the year over yeardecrease in the estimated January 1 feeder supply. However, many of the lightweight feeders placed late in 2017 will remain in feedlots until mid-2018. Feedlots are pretty full and will have reduced demand for feeders for some time yet this spring, thus the overall supply-demand balance may not have changed much. Larger feedlot placements in recent months represents a change in timing of feedlot production but not a change in the overall supply situation. In general, while feedlots will not maintain the placement rate of recent months going forward, feeder cattle numbers will be larger in 2018 supporting increased cattle slaughter and beef production.