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Record high feeder cattle prices leave no doubt that U.S. feeder cattle supplies are extremely tight. On January 1, estimated feeder supplies were down 2.7 percent over the previous year amid indications of heifer retention. There are indications that heifer retention has accelerated in 2014.
USDA will release the July Cattle report in about a month which will provide a mid-year estimate of feeder supplies, though no year over year comparisons will be possible since the report was cancelled last year. U.S. feeder supplies will likely be down again with a 2014 U.S. calf crop fractionally smaller than last year and increased heifer retention further squeezing feeder supplies. However, the market attempts to compensate for declining supplies with high prices prompting adjustments wherever possible.