Cattle on Feed report confirms trade expectations

Jeff Swenson

Prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist. The Market Update draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports.

Jeff Swenson

The latest Cattle on Feed report confirmed trade expectations. The on feed number of 11.1 million head is 98.1 percent of August 1 last year. Cattle placed in feedlots during July came in at 91.1 percent compared to last year. Cattle marketed was 5 percent below a year ago.

Last week’s estimated harvest was the largest since early June at 665,000 head. Beef production was 4.3 percent lower in July compared to 2020, but is 4.9 percent higher year-to-date. Cows heading to harvest in July was 8.6 percent higher than a year ago, and 8.1 percent more cows have entered the supply chain year-to-date.

Pasture conditions have not improved nationally, although some states have gotten rain during the past two weeks. Pasture rated good to excellent in the US is 29 percent.  There is variability within regions and even states. Wisconsin pasture is rated 61 percent good to excellent, compared to 54 percent in Illinois, 31 percent in Iowa, and just 2 percent in Minnesota.

The beef cutout value was lower mid-week. Conventional thinking in a typical year would lead one to believe we have reached the late summer/early fall seasonal high. Wholesale beef and cash cattle prices have not been closely tied for months. With the supply of fed cattle lessening, there is the chance for cash cattle prices to increase, even as wholesale and retail prices decline.

Pork production down

July pork production was down 13.6 percent compared to 2020, and totals for January through July is .06 percent behind a year ago. Cash prices for market hogs have been under pressure as cutout values back down from earlier highs. Market hog prices were over $3.00/cwt lower last week.

Sow prices have been climbing, however, heavy sows going to harvest have increased from $30.00/cwt last year to over $80.00/cwt in some cases currently. Last week’s harvest totaled 2.452 million head, 45,000 hogs higher than the previous week.

Lamb production dips

Lower harvest numbers, coupled with the continued trend to lighter weight lambs, caused lamb production to dip to a record low in July. Sheep harvest totaled 185,100 head, 6 percent below last year. The average live weight was 115 pounds, down 10 pounds from July a year ago. Veal production also hit record lows in July, lagging 32 percent below last July.

Frozen meat supplies remain up

According to the recent Cold Storage report, total red meat supplies in freezers were up slightly from the previous month but down 8 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down slightly from the previous month and down 9 percent from last year.

Frozen pork supplies were up slightly from the previous month but down 4 percent from last year. Lamb supplies were 53 percent below last July and 2 percent below June 2021.

Total frozen poultry supplies on July 31, 2021 were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 17 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 16 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 7 percent from last month but down 16 percent from July 31, 2020.

State auction markets hold steady

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were fully steady. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $108.00 to $126.00/cwt with highs to $130.00/cwt and some above.

Choice and Prime Holstein steers were mostly steady, bringing $92.00 to $115.00/cwt. There were some packages of Holstein steers selling to $122.00/cwt. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $70.00 to $94.00/cwt.

Dairy x Beef steers were mostly $90.00 to $125.00/cwt. Cows were lower at $40.00 to $58.00/cwt. Blemish free cows in fleshier condition were selling to the low $70.00s/cwt.  Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $39.00/cwt and down.

Dairy breed bull calves were mixed at $30.00 to $90.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $130.00/cwt. Beef and beef cross calves brought up to $300/cwt. Market lambs sold to $245.00/cwt.