USDA’s February Cattle on Feed (COF) report will be released on Friday, February 25th. It’s expected to show a record number of cattle on feed in feedlots with 1,000 or more head. The combination of fewer marketings than the year before and large placements should leave COF at 100.8 percent of the 12.106 million head on feed last February.
Feedlot marketings should be about 2.7 percent below last year. Given that there was one more slaughter day in January 2022 than 2021 that is a relatively low rate of daily average marketings. Placements are expected to be about 98.9 percent of last year. That would be a relatively large number of cattle placed. Large placements could be driven by continued movement from drought-affected winter grazing and large sales from the Northern Plains. Rising fed cattle prices likely encouraged placements also. About 21,000 fewer feeder cattle were imported from Mexico in January 2022 than the year before, but about 9,000 more were imported from Canada.
Large placements would indicate another month of pulling feeder cattle supplies forward. While the result is more cattle on feed today, it also means fewer feeder cattle available later in the year. The expected tighter supplies of calves and feeders are fueling optimism for much higher calf prices later this year.