July placement at feedlots in Alberta and Saskatchewan increased from a year ago, but were just 45 percent of the 2002 total. July marketings were 68 percent of a year ago, and just 59 percent of 2002 totals.
Meanwhile, USDA released its own version of cattle-on-feed this week, which revealed similar if not quite as significant trends.
The number of cattle on feed was up from the previous year at 103 percent, but down from the 1999/2003 average. The number placed during July was at 86 percent of a year ago and the number marketed was at 85 percent, both figures well below the previous year.
Analysts believe that the record lows were due to expensive feeder cattle replacement costs combined with light rates of slaughter by beef packers. They also said low profit margins restricted cattle movement into and out of feedlots. The upshot is the front-end supply of cattle on feed for 120 days or longer continued to build, and there should be plenty of slaughter-ready live cattle supplies coming in the weeks ahead. Analysts also expect the light July additions to translate into higher December and February live cattle futures prices, but the decline could put pressure on October Futures.