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Feeder placements slip on better pasture

06/18/2013 @ 3:02pm

Analysts project cattle placements, or the number of young cattle entering feedyards, in May were below the previous-year figure as fewer young cattle were imported from Mexico last month and pasture conditions have improved in many areas of the country.

In addition, the year-ago placement figure was large, well above the five-year average, since farmers and ranchers in several states were dealing with poor pastures, high hay costs and lack of water. So while the May placement figure is projected to be down 4.1% from a year ago, the average of the estimates is 5.6% above the five-year average. Improved pasture conditions allow farmers and ranchers to keep the young cattle on grass or other forages longer before sending them to feedyards for fattening.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's cattle-on-feed report is slated for release at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) Friday.

The estimates for placements in May ranged from 0.2% to 15.7% under a year ago. The number of cattle placed, according to the average of the projections, would be 1.999 million head.

The number of cattle on feed as of June 1 is pegged at 3.5% below a year ago, or about 10.689 million head, according to the average of 11 analysts in the Dow Jones Newswires survey. The estimates ranged from 5.7% to 2.4% below last year's number. The average of the estimates represents a 0.5% decline from the five-year average. The number of cattle in feedyards at the beginning of this month was expected to be the smallest for that date since 2010.

The number of cattle marketed, or sent to slaughter, last month was estimated at 2.1% below the same period a year ago and 1% below the five-year average. The average of the estimates was about 1.975 million head. May had the same number of work days as a year ago.

Feedlot margins were again negative in May, extending the string of losses to a record 25 consecutive months, according to Rich Nelson, chief strategist with Allendale Inc. in McHenry, Ill. The previous record was set from June 2007 through March 2009.


Write to Curt Thacker at curt.thacker@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 18, 2013 15:41 ET (19:41 GMT)
DJ May Cattle Placements Into Feedyards Seen Down 4.1% on Year->copyright

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