USDA's monthly cattle on feed report estimated March placements to be the lowest since the data series began in 1996.
Cattle placements into U.S. feedlots last month rose 5.0 percent from March 2015 but were the smallest for the month in five years, according to a government report on Friday, and less than average industry forecasts.
The latest USDA-NASS Cattle on Feed report pegged April 1 feedlot inventories at 11.96 million head, 102 percent of last year and a record April level for the data series, which started in 1996.
Decreased March placements are not an indication of fewer total cattle supplies but rather are a confirmation of the change in feedlot timing in recent months.
Friday's USDA cattle on feed report held a few surprises for cattlemen, and analysts are finding the available data a challenge after the turbulence witnessed the first half of 2020.
Cattle on feed came out last Friday providing an update of cattle supplies moving in and out of feedlots.
April placements in feedlots totaled 1.85 million head, up 11.1% from a year ago with the pre-report estimate average expecting placements up 7.2%.
Fewer cattle on feed in April than expected.