End of May cattle harvest highest in decade

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

Cash cattle ended last week $1.00 lower nationally, but reports this week are $1.00 to $4.00 higher. Last week’s harvest of 603,000 head was the largest estimated harvest for the week of Memorial Day in more than ten years. While 41,000 head lower than the previous week, it was 59,000 head higher than the holiday week in 2021.

Packers are putting together a strong harvest this week. Through Wednesday estimates are already 18,000 head more than the same week last year.

A fire in the rendering area of the JBS facility in Green Bay Tuesday evening was contained quickly. It is estimated the fire caused $30,000 in damage. The company said the plant was open and operational the following day.

The Choice carcass cutout gained $3.20 last week and was up another $4.48 through Wednesday at $271.74. Higher boxed beef prices, aggressive harvest schedules, and a decrease in live and carcass weights indicates domestic beef demand remains strong.

Cash feeder cattle prices were called $2.00 to $4.00/cwt higher last week. One Wisconsin feeder cattle order buyer says he has orders unfilled and the supply of feeders is tight. Beef export sales have been slowing recently. The most recent weekly report said 17,700 metric tons of U.S. beef was sold to foreign buyers. That is 21 percent below the four-week average.

Cash hog prices building strength

Cash hogs were $0.50 higher last week and showing strength this week. The USDA reported a national weighted average live price of $90.60/cwt Wednesday with an average of $117.28 on a carcass basis.

The pork carcass cutout was almost $4.00 higher last Friday at $109.38, but has given up those gains by mid-week and was $104.47 Wednesday. Weekly harvest estimate for the holiday shortened week was 2.044 million hogs, 41,000 hogs less than the previous week but 59,000 hogs more than the same week last year.

Lean Hog futures have not been able to break through the pressure they have been under. Larger export sales might bring optimism, but the latest weekly total of 16,700 metric tons was down 48 percent from the previous week and 44 percent below the four-week average.

Lamb prices stabilizing

The USDA reports lighter market lambs were steady last week while heavier lambs were down another $20.00 to $23.00/cwt. Cash prices tend to begin stabilizing this time of year. Feeder lambs were also lower. Last week’s estimated harvest was 30,000 sheep and lambs, 5,000 below the previous week and 2,000 less than the same week in 2021. 

Farmers make strides on corn crop

As of June 5, 89 percent of Wisconsin corn has been planted, 13 days behind last year but one day ahead of the average. Corn emerged was 73 percent, one week behind last year but one day ahead of the average. Corn condition was 84 percent good to excellent statewide.

Soybean planting was 86 percent complete, 10 days behind last year but five days ahead of the average. Soybean condition was 81 percent good to excellent. Pasture condition was rated 74 percent good to excellent, up five percentage points from last week.

State livestock market roundup

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady to $1.00 higher. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $127.00 to $140.00/cwt. High Choice and Prime type cattle with an overnight stand at the auction market sold from $140.00 to $147.00/cwt. 

Choice Holstein steers were steady at $99.00 to $127.00/cwt with high grading Holstein steers bringing $128.00 to $133.00/cwt. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $72.00 to $99.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were lower, bringing $99.00 to $137.00/cwt.

Cows were $2.00 to $3.00 higher at $55.00 to $78.00/cwt. Beef breed cows in fleshier condition sold into the high $80.00s/cwt.  Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $55.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were higher, bringing $50.00 to $150.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $230.00/cwt. Beef and beef cross calves were bringing up to $320.00/head. Market lambs brought up to $200.00 with some lighter market lambs selling to $230.00/cwt.