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Report to Show More Feedlot Cattle, Analysts Say

03/21/2014 @ 9:46am

The number of young cattle entering U.S. feedyards in February was predicted to be up 9.7% from a year-earlier, according to a Wall Street Journal survey for a federal cattle-on-feed report.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release the report at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) Friday.

The estimates from 11 analysts for placements in February ranged from 2.2% to 18.2% above a year earlier, with the majority expecting a more minor increase from 2013 in the number of cattle that entered commercial feedyards through the end of the month. The average of analyst estimates would be 1.576 million head.

Analyst estimates vary widely in the number of cattle expected to have been placed into commercial feedyards relative to this time in 2013, when extremely high-priced feed and extreme weather made feeding cattle significantly more expensive. Cattle tend to put on less weight during freezing, snowy conditions. Feedlots this February benefited from the cheapest grain costs in more than three years and more moderate weather conditions in some regions, amid record-high prices for fattened cattle in history.

"There's no doubt that record high prices are going to have brought more cattle into the feedlot," said Rich Nelson, chief strategist with brokerage Allendale Inc. in McHenry, Ill.

The average of the estimates for the number of cattle marketed for slaughter in February was about 1.554 million head, or 3.0% below the same period last year.

The number of cattle on feed as of March 1 was projected to be 1.1% below a year ago, or 10.720 million head, according to the average of the estimates. The estimates ranged from 2.2% below to 0.1% above a year earlier.

Write to Kelsey Gee at kelsey.gee@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 21, 2014 10:27 ET (14:27 GMT)

DJ U.S. Cattle Placements in February Seen Rising as Prices Hit New Records->copyright

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