Feedlots in U.S. Placed 8.6% More Cattle in January, USDA Says

Feedlots in the U.S. placed 8.6 percent more cattle in January compared with a year earlier, the Department of Agriculture said.

Feedlots placed 2.029 million head of cattle last month, up 1.869 million in January 2013, the agency said today in a report. Eleven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg said that placements would climb 3 percent, based on the average estimate. The feedlot herd totaled 10.76 million as of Feb. 1, down 2.8 percent from a year earlier. Analysts projected the inventory on feed to fall 4 percent.

Feedlot operators typically buy year-old animals that weigh 500 pounds (227 kilograms) to 800 pounds, called feeders. The cattle are fattened on corn for about four to five months until they weigh about 1,300 pounds, when they are sold to meatpackers.

Feedlots sold about 1.788 million animals to meatpackers last month, down 5.5 percent from a year earlier, the USDA said. Analysts projected a 4.9 percent drop, on average.

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