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Cattle on Feed Report Preview    04/22  09:17

April 1 Cattle on Feed Numbers Not a Simple Apples-to-Apples 

By ShayLe Stewart
DTN Livestock Analyst

                      USDA Actual   Average Estimate       Range
On Feed April 1                         106.2%     105.3%-107.5%
Placed in March                         134.3%     128.0%-143.4%
Marketed in March                       101.1%     100.5%-101.6%

OMAHA (DTN) -- Before you look at these analysts' estimates for 
Friday's Cattle on Feed report, there are a couple of things we 
need to discuss.

First, the Cattle on Feed report compares the previous month's 
data to that of a year ago. So, Friday's report will be a recap 
of what transpired in March 2021 compared to that of March 2020. 
Comparing the two years as if it were a simple apples-to-apples 
comparison would be problematic in and of itself, as the past 15 
months have been one for the history books. 

The Cattle on Feed report can still be a useful tool in 
analyzing recent data and trying to forecast what may develop in 
the weeks and months to come, but it would be irresponsible to 
only compare the recent data to that of a year ago. From this 
point, moving through the end of the 2021 calendar year, it will 
be vital to compare 2021 numbers to that of 2019, as well as to 
the three- and five-year averages.  

Secondly, looking back to February and then March 2021 and the 
weather events that occurred during this time, larger placements 
are most certainly expected, as the snowstorm that blanketed the 
entire country in February made placing and transporting cattle 
difficult. Consequently, more cattle then were placed in March 
of 2021 as weather-restricting conditions subsided.

When Friday's report is unveiled, it is critical that we study 
the numbers and make sound comparisons instead of just having an 
emotional reaction to the steep increases when compared to year-
ago figures.

USDA will release its April 1 Cattle on Feed report at 2 p.m. 
CDT on Friday.

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at

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