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Friday’s Cattle on Feed report from USDA contained a surprise: feedlots are buying less cattle.
Industry analysts had expected December placements to be higher, but the report shows just 1.6 million placements in December of 2012 – down 1% from December of 2011.
USDA Livestock Shayle Shagam explains the most significant figures in the report.
Shagam says there are several possible reasons for the numbers; the cattle industry could be attempting to stave off liquidation and producers may have the forage needed to get through winter, or feedlots could be losing money to the point that buying feeder cattle at market price is not feasible.
In Iowa, the numbers are roughly comparable to national figures; total inventory numbered 1.28 million, down one percent from January of last year. Total December 2012 placements in Iowa feedlots were 120,000; That figure is down 6% from last year.