Cattle price reactions to cattle on feed reports can be large. This makes even subtle inventory changes important. The USDA asks survey respondents to only include “steers and heifers being fed a ration of grain, silage, hay and/or protein supplement for the slaughter market that are expected to produce a carcass that will grade Select or better” in their on-feed inventories.

This helps keep cattle intended to go to pasture from appearing on cattle-on-feed inventories. Similarly, feedlots backgrounding cattle for sale as feeders — or for further finishing in another feedlot — should not include these cattle in their on-feed inventory.

One exception to only including cattle intended for slaughter in the on-feed inventory exists. Producers may pull heifers out of feedlots for breeding. They should be included in on-feed inventories until they go to pasture. They will then appear as “other disappearance,” which usually peaks in May each year as grass becomes more available.

Learn more about cattle on feed reports here.