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Cattle on Feed Preview                 10/23 13:40

U.S. Cattle Placements Seen Growing in September as Marketings Slow 

(Dow Jones) -- The number of young cattle entering U.S. feed yards through 
the start of October was predicted to be 1.4% above the same time in 2013, 
according to a Wall Street Journal survey for Friday's federal cattle-on-
feed report. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release the report at 3 
p.m. EDT. 

The estimates from 12 analysts for the total number of cattle entering 
feedyards in September was projected to total 2.016 million head, 
according to the average of the estimates. 

The estimates ranged from 6.9% below to 7% above the same time in 2013, 
reflecting the widespread uncertainty about the pace at which feedlot 
operators replace cattle marketed for sale in the face of record-high 
prices for light-weight animals. 

The market for light- and market-weight cattle has surged to the highest 
prices in history as the size of the nation's herd remains the smallest in 
decades. As producers work to retain cows and heifers on the farm--rather 
than sending them to be fattened for slaughter--to breed new calves which 
eventually will enter the beef supply chain, feedlots have had to bid more 
aggressively to secure enough animals to operate at or near capacity. 

The increase is seen as a reflection of extremely light placements of 
feeder-cattle the same month last year. 

"Producers aren't interested in moving cattle, which is starting to show 
up in record heavy weights," said Steve Wagner, an analyst with CHS 
Hedging in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., explaining that feedyard operators 
are growing livestock to larger weights as supplies of available animals 
tighten. 

Projections for the total number of cattle on feed as of Oct. 1 ranged 
from 2% below to 0.6% above a year earlier, with the average of analyst 
estimates down 0.3% from last year, at 10.081 million head. The average of 
the estimates for the number of cattle marketed for slaughter last month 
was about 1.678 million head, or 0.8% below the same period last year.
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