4/22 – In Thursday’s Cattle on Feed Report, the USDA said new placements onto feedlots in March were up 4.8% from a year ago. The April 1st feedlot inventory at 11.96M head was 2.0% above a year ago and the highest April inventory since the data series began in 1996. Part of the reason for that is the number of heifers on feedlots is up 7.6% from a year ago and now represents 37.7% of all feedlot inventory. That exceeds the 36% threshold that historically indicates ranchers are liquidating enough breeding stock for the cattle herd to (eventually) begin contracting. Analysts expect feedlot inventories to crest in 2019, and then slowly decline starting in 2020. Cattle futures, which hit $129.90/cwt during the severe flooding in Nebraska last month, remain seasonally high at $128.53. Forward future contracts for the 2nd half of 2019 are averaging $121.24/cwt.