Friday's USDA Cattle Inventory Report shows a downturn in cattle numbers from the same time a year ago. According to USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam the report was within the range of what industry analysts were expecting.
"I think that they were probably expecting a few less beef cows than what we saw," Shagam says. "So as a result that puts a little bit more of a cast on it that said as we move farther out into the future there may be a little more beef than they had originally anticipated."
Shagam says a combination of improved pastures and high feed prices are behind the decline in cattle inventory.
"With increased availability of forage we're seeing larger number of cattle outside of feedlots, in fact the number of cattle outside feedlots was up about a half a percent from a year ago," Shagam says. "This is partly due to two factors; one is the fact that there is grass and secondly the fact that as we have seen these higher costs for grains, which is increasing the costs of feedlots there is obviously going to be a move to keep cattle outside feedlots for a longer period of time, putting more of the cattle's weight on from grass before they move into the feedlots for finishing."