This week, USDA played less the role of prognosticator and more that of bean counter -- er, make that nose counter, as USDA released its monthly Cattle on Feed report.
While the livestock markets were closed when the tally was released, the numbers were definitely bullish.
Traders thought they'd see confirmation of another large reduction of feedlot in-movement this season, in part due to drought conditions that forced stockers into feedlots 30 to 60 days ahead of schedule. USDA said as of Aug 1, feedlots with capacity of 1,000 year or more, totaled just over 10 million. That's 5 percent below a year ago.
The number of cattle placed in feedlots totaled 1.62 million, which is 17 percent below this time last year. This is the lowest placements for a July month since reports began in 1996.
And 2 million head of cattle were sent to market in July -- 3 percent above a year ago.