Choice beef cutout drops to $45 below last year's price

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 Choice beef cutout value dropped another $4.90 to end Friday at $252.44. That is $45.00 below this time a year ago. The cutout did make a $3.85 jump higher Monday only to drop by $3.05 on Tuesday.

Cash cattle were mostly steady last week. With a wide trading range this week, it is easy to find sales on both sides of steady. Feedlot owners are actively negotiating for future delivery ahead of the expected decrease in cash cattle prices. The anticipated increase in market-ready cattle in the weeks ahead will test consumer demand and packer ability to move more cattle through the supply chain.

Last week’s harvest of 657,000 head was 8,000 head more than the previous week and 18,000 head more than the same week last year. Packers appear to be putting together a larger harvest this week.

Beef production from steers and heifers during the third quarter of 2021 through the first quarter of 2022 has dropped by 1.1 percent while beef from cows and bulls has increased by 6.3 percent. Cows and bulls have been running about 22 percent of the weekly harvest recently.

Weekly export sales of 28,400 metric tons last week is a marketing year high. For the first time in several weeks, China was not a buyer. Beef exports totaled 126,285 metric tons in March, up one percent from a year ago, the third largest on record, while value climbed 33 percent to a record $1.07 billion. March beef export value equated to $472.73 per head, up 36 percent from a year ago. Exports accounted for 14.7 percent of total March beef production. 

Lean hog futures contracts mixed

The pork cutout value increased 50 cents last week, ending Friday at $104.70 but still $7.00 below a year ago. Cash hogs were steady with a national weighted average of $80.12/cwt live and $101.98 on a carcass basis.

Packers put together a harvest larger than recent weeks with an estimated 2.427 million hogs. That is 38,000 hogs more than the previous week and 31,000 hogs above the same week last year.

Lean hog futures contracts have been mixed in recent trading sessions and still looking for direction. Tighter supplies and good domestic demand is contrasted with export sales continuing to lag behind last year.

The latest weekly export total of 26,300 metric tons was 10 percent higher than the previous week with China buying for the first time in recent weeks, purchasing 4,700 metric tons. March pork exports were 222,581 metric tons, the largest since November but nearly 25 percent below the record volume achieved a year ago.

Export value was $615.3 million, also the highest since November but down 23 percent year-over-year. March pork export value equated to $54.70 per head, down 19 percent from a year ago. Exports accounted for 25.2 percent of total March production. 

Market lamb prices fall

Market lambs were called $5.00 to $20.00/cwt lower last week with ewes steady to $10.00/cwt lower. Last week’s sheep and lamb estimated harvest was 35,000 head, equal to the previous week and 6,000 head less than the same week a year ago. Year-to-date sheep and lamb harvest is 12.5 percent behind 2021.

Exports of U.S. lamb increased 75 percent from a year ago to 1,906 metric tons, the largest volume since 2011 and the third largest on record. Export value nearly doubled to $2.88 million, up 95 percent and the highest since 2014.

State livestock market roundup

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $128.00 to $141.00/cwt. High Choice and Prime type cattle with an overnight stand at the auction market sold from $142.00 to $149.00/cwt.

Choice Holstein steers were steady to higher at $94.00 to $120.00/cwt with high grading Holsteins steers bringing $120.00 to $127.00/cwt. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $72.00 to $94.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were mostly $100.00 to $139.00/cwt.

Cows were steady to $2.00 lower at $50.00 to $74.00/cwt. Beef breed cows in fleshier condition sold into the low $80.00s/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $50.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were lower, bringing $45.00 to $125.00/head with heavier, well cared for calves up to $155.00/head.

Beef and beef cross calves were lower, bringing up to $320.00/head. Market lambs were bringing up to $220.00/cwt with some light market lambs selling higher.