Smaller Cattle Inventories Reflect Resurging Drought Conditions

Both of USDA’s cattle population updates released Friday showed declines in populations, though not as dramatic as trade analysts were expecting.  The monthly Cattle On Feed report indicated a total of just over 11.2 million head in the nation’s largest feedlots at the beginning of July, a two-percent drop from a year ago as well as a net decrease of 348,000 head during the month of June.  A greater percentage of feedlot populations were heifers, as their totals were largely unchanged from a year ago at 4.47 million head while steer totals declined three percent to 6.73 million.  Placements during June were up three percent from a year ago at 1.68 million head.  Marketings were down five percent at 1.96 million.

Overall cattle inventories nationwide were down three percent from a year ago at 95.9 million head.  The losses were uniform across all categories except milk cows, which remained unchanged from last year at 9.4 million.  Beef cows totaled 29.4 million head, down three percent, while beef replacement heifers were down 100,000 from last year at 4.05 million.  Steer population was down three percent at 13.9 million, while bulls were down five percent at 1.9 million.  USDA projects this year’s calf crop to fall two percent year-over-year, at 33.8 million head.  About 24.8 million calves were born during the winter and spring.