COLUMNISTS

Cattle and dairy cow numbers drop according to USDA report

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 USDA released the July 1 Cattle inventory report last week. The number of cows in the U.S. decreased with beef cow inventory dropping 2.4 percent to 39.8 million head.

The number of milk cows in the U.S. dropped one percent to 9.45 million head. Beef heifers kept for replacement decreased by three percent from a year ago and is the lowest beef replacement heifer figure since 2014. Some speculated the inventory numbers would be lower than reported.

The USDA also released a Cattle on Feed report last week. The number of cattle in feedlots nationally on July 1 was 11.3 million head, 100.4 percent when compared to last year. Cattle placed on feed in June came in at 97.6 percent of a year ago.

Heifers made up 39.2 percent of cattle on feed, further indicating farmers and ranchers are not growing their herds. Beef demand continues to exceed expectations, helped by strong export sales.

The Choice beef cutout value gained $1.65 last week to finish at $267.12, which was approximately $4.00 higher than 2021. Harvest continues at a brisk pace, with an estimated total of 665,000 head last week. While that is 9,000 head less than the previous week, it is 10,000 head higher than the same week last year.

Cash cattle prices are lower in the Southern U.S., but mostly steady in the North. Cow prices at auction markets are under pressure as supply remains high.

June beef production was two percent above the last year. Cattle harvest totaled 3.04 million, up three percent from June 2021. The average live weight of 1,339 pounds was down seven pounds from last year.

Pork prices inch upward

Pork wholesale prices continue their higher trend, with the pork cutout gaining an impressive $6.55 last week, making it more than $2.50 higher than this time last year.

Higher pork prices have pulled cash hog prices upward and has spurred Lean Hog futures contracts higher as well. The national weighted average cash price on a carcass basis was $124.75 Tuesday and $93.35 live.

Last week’s harvest estimate of 2.285 million hogs was 30,000 hogs higher than the previous week and 40,000 hogs below the same week last year. Totals are running ahead of last week so far.

Pork production in June was up slightly. Hog harvest totaled 10.5 million head, down one percent from June 2021. The average live weight was up four pounds from the previous year at 288 pounds.

Fed lamb prices drop below 10-year average

Fed lamb prices have dipped below the ten year average. Prices typically begin increasing in late August. While it is unclear what prices will do the remainder of the year, many predict cash prices will still follow seasonal trends as holidays favorable to lamb will still increase demand.

Last week’s estimated harvest was 33,000 sheep and lambs, and that equaled the previous week while falling short of the same week in 2021 by 2,000 head. The lamb cutout value is showing weakness and was $601.27 Tuesday.

Sheep harvest totaled 172,900 head in June, nine percent below last year. The average live weight was 131 pounds, up 11 pounds from June a year ago.

State livestock market roundup

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady, with some reports of higher prices. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $122.00 to $143.00/cwt. There were packages bringing $143.00 to $147.00/cwt with some High Choice and Prime type cattle with an overnight stand at the auction market selling higher.

Choice Holstein steers were fully steady to $1.00 higher at $100.00 to $129.00/cwt with high grading Holstein steers bringing $129.00 to $133.00/cwt. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $72.00 to $100.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were bringing $107.00 to $146.00/cwt.

Cows were mixed at $50.00 to $76.00/cwt with some selling to the high $80s. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $50.00/cwt and down.

Dairy breed bull calves were lower, bringing $50.00 to $140.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $150.00/cwt. Beef and Beef Cross calves were bringing up to $340.00/head. Market lambs brought $100.00 to $190.00/cwt.