Meat & Livestock News

U.S. Cattle on Feed Sees Slight Increase from Last Year


  • Slight Year-over-Year Increase: The U.S. cattle and calves on feed as of February 1 totalled 11.8 million head, marking a slight increase from February 2023 levels.
  • January Placements Decline: Feedlot placements in January totalled 1.79 million head, showing a 7% decrease from the year-ago period.
  • Growing Feedlot Capacity: Feedlot capacity now represents 82.7% of all U.S. cattle and calves, with a record level of 19.6% in 2024, indicating a significant growth in feedlot capacity over the past 25 years.

As of February 1, the U.S. reported a slight uptick in the number of cattle and calves on feed-for-slaughter markets compared to February 2023, despite a small decrease from the previous month’s figures.

The latest data from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reveals that feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more heads housed 11.8 million on February 1. This figure aligns with industry predictions, which anticipated a modest rise to 11.7 million, as the Daily Livestock Report from Steiner Consulting Group forecasted. January’s inventory slightly exceeded February’s, with 11.9 million head, partly due to reduced demand for animals in the 700 to 800-pound weight range.

January feedlot placements were recorded at 1.79 million head, marking a 7% decrease from the same period last year. This adjustment reflects the ongoing fluctuations in market demands and feedlot capacities.

Interestingly, cattle and calves on feedlots now constitute 82.7% of the total U.S. cattle and calves market as of January 1, 2024. Over the past 25 years, feedlot capacity has reached a record 19.6% in 2024, averaging around 83% of total feedlot capacity. This growth underscores the evolving dynamics of the U.S. cattle industry, as highlighted by Derrell S. Peel, an Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist at Oklahoma State University.