The November Cattle on Feed report from USDA, released on November 22, shows feedyard inventories in U.S. feedlots with 1,000 head or more capacity at 10.6 million head as of November 1, down 6 percent from a year earlier. Feedyard inventories have run below year-earlier totals every month of this year.

Based on a total capacity of 16.7 million head, the feedyard occupancy rate on November 1 was 63.5 percent. That is up from 60.5 percent as of October 1 and 59.1 percent occupancy on September 1.

As expected, feedyard placements picked up during October, totaling 2.39 million head, up 10 percent from the figure from October 2012. However, the placement rate last October, at 2.18 million head was the lowest cattle placements for the month of October since the series began in 1996. Last year, drought forced large numbers of calves into feedyards earlier than usual, and high grain prices disrupted placement patterns into the fall months. This year we’ll likely see a more typical pattern of placements, although some calves might remain on grass longer than usual in areas with good forage availability. Placements into feedlots during September totaled 2.03 million, 1 percent above 2012

Marketings of fed cattle during October totaled 1.86 million, 1 percent above 2012.

The report should be supportive for feeder-cattle and fed-cattle prices, as feedyard inventories remain low and the placement rate during October, while higher than a year ago and last month, but still relatively low by historical standards.