USDA April 1 Cattle on Feed Report

April 1 Cattle on Feed Up 1% From Year Ago

USDA released its April 1 Cattle on Feed report on Friday. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million head on April 1, 2024. The inventory was 1% above April 1, 2023, USDA NASS reported on Friday.

The inventory included 7.27 million steers and steer calves, up 2% from the previous year. This group accounted for 61% of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.56 million head, up 1% from 2023.

Placements in feedlots during March totaled 1.75 million head, 12% below 2023. Net placements were 1.69 million head. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 330,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 260,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 460,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 466,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 170,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 60,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 1.71 million head, 14% below 2023.

Other disappearance totaled 57,000 head during March, 8% above 2023.


"Friday's Cattle on Feed report comes as a sweet surprise to the cattle complex, as placements were expected to be lower, but the actual 12% decline compared to a year ago wasn't forecast," said DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart.

"To break the placement data down more thoroughly, there were exactly 1,746,000 head of feeder cattle placed in March of 2024, which is 12% less than a year ago, and 8% less than a month ago. When comparing Friday's data to a year ago, there wasn't one weight division that saw greater placements year over year. When comparing Friday's data to the placements seen last month, the only weight division that saw greater month-over-month placements was the feeders weighing 1,000 pounds or more. And the only states that saw greater month-over-month placements were Texas (up 3%) and Oklahoma (up 8%), which could be being influenced by feeder cattle imports from Mexico.

"Analysts forecast total on-feed numbers to be around 102% of a year ago, but to the market's surprise, total on-feed numbers came in at 11,838,000 head, which is just 1% more than a year ago. Yes, total on-feed numbers are greater than a year ago, but thankfully, the report's data didn't surpass the market's expectations. And seeing the number of cattle marketed less than expected isn't bewildering given that packers have decreased processing speeds to manage supplies."


DTN subscribers can view the full Cattle on Feed reports in the Livestock Archives folder under the Markets menu. The report is also available at….

USDA Actual Average Estimate Range
On Feed April 1 101% 102.0% 101.6-102.5%
Placed in March 88% 92.8% 90.0-94.7%
Marketed in March 86% 89.0% 86.5-91.3%