Prices in the pork sector continue to drift lower

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 larger harvest expected last week materialized with an estimate of 677,000 head. The total was 22,000 head higher than the previous week and 11,000 head higher than the same week a year ago.

The Cattle on Feed Report released on Friday, November 19, 2021 matched pre-report estimates with the on feed number at 99.8 percent compared to a year ago. Placements in October were 102.4 percent compared to a year ago.

There are still reports of calves from drought stricken regions moving into feedlots earlier than usual. The largest placement numbers were in calves weighing 699 pounds or less. Marketings were 5 percent lower than a year ago.

Cash cattle were higher last week and managed to pull futures contracts higher. Futures markets are quiet this week as many traders headed into the Thanksgiving weekend early. A lack of surprises in the Cattle on Feed Report also helped reduce volatility. Carcass cutout values ended last week $6.70 lower mainly on weakness in ribs. This is further evidence of consumers shying away from higher priced cuts.

Pork prices drift lower

Prices in the pork sector continue to drift lower, looking for any signs of good news. The harvest estimate for last week was 2.635 million head and that is up 21,000 head from the previous week and 92,000 head lower than a year ago. Overall, hog harvest is 2.1 percent lower year-to-date compared to 2020. 

Market hog supply continues to remain fairly current with no indication of numbers increasing significantly. It is likely that weekly harvest will remain at current levels with packers citing a lack of sufficient labor to increase those numbers.

The pork cutout value ended last week $4.20 lower and lost another $3.57 to open the week on Monday, November 22, 2021. Hams and bellies are the primary drag on the cutout value. Improved demand, either domestically or through exports, is needed to see higher cash hog prices.

Cold storage report

The USDA released a Cold Storage Report on Monday, November 22, 2021. Total frozen red meat supplies on October 31, 2021 were one percent higher than September 2021 but three percent lower than last year. Beef supplies are climbing at nine percent above the end of September, but still five percent lower on the year.

Pork in storage was six percent lower than the previous month and down two percent below year ago levels. Frozen poultry supplies were eight percent lower on the month and 18 percent below last year.

Chicken was three percent higher than September 2021 and down 17 percent from a year ago. Not surprisingly, turkey in freezers were 27 percent lower than the previous month given the Thanksgiving holiday. Cheese in storage is eight percent higher than the same month last year.

Harvest wraps up

Wisconsin corn harvest was 92 percent complete as of Sunday, November 21, 2021. That is one day ahead of last year.  Moisture content is at 17 percent. Nationally, five percent of the corn harvest remains in the field. Soybean harvest is mostly complete. Fall tillage is running six days ahead of last year at 83 percent complete.  #

WI livestock market news

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were higher as packers relied on auctions to buy cattle for the shortened week. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $120.00 to $134.00/cwt with reports of some selling to the high $130.00s/cwt. Choice and Prime Holstein steers were mostly steady at $91.00 to $113.00/cwt. Some packages were still selling to $118.00/cwt.

Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $70.00 to $91.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were mostly $92.00 to $130.00/cwt. Cows were steady to lower at $32.00 to $52.00/cwt.

Blemish free cows in fleshier condition sold into the $60.00s/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $32.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were steady at $50.00 to $100.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $180.00/cwt.

Beef and beef cross calves were lower bringing up to $280.00/cwt. Market lambs were lower, selling to $260.00/cwt.  Feeder cattle demand is strong, with the market $0.50 to $3.00 higher. Spring calving bred cows and heifers are also seeing good demand.