Cattle numbers in the United States once again came in above analysts’ expectations in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s cattle on feed report last week.

The USDA said there were 10.8 million head of cattle and calves on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more on Oct. 1, up 5 percent from a year ago. Analysts had predicted a slightly smaller 4.7 percent increase, although the difference was within the range of estimates.

The inventory included 6.93 million steers and steer calves, up 2 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 64 percent of the total inventory.

The biggest surprise came in feedlot placements totaling 2.15 million head...