Beef harvest exceeds expectations

Jeff Swenson
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.

The University of Wisconsin – River Falls and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced the launch of the Humane Handling Institute last week. This first of its kind program will provide comprehensive hands-on training for current meat industry workers in humane pre-slaughter handling, transport, stunning and equipment maintenance. The project is funded by the Meat Talent Development Program, a $5 million investment created by Governor Tony Evers to strengthen the state’s meat processing supply chain and workforce. Learn more by visiting the Humane Handling Institute website: 

Last week’s harvest exceeded expectations, with an estimated 673,000 head. That is 13,000 more than the previous week and 11,000 above the same week last year. The USDA released a monthly Cattle on Feed report Friday, October 21.

The numbers released fell within trade expectations, a change of pace from reports released in recent months. Cattle placed in feedlots during September totaled 2.08 million head, 4% below 2021. Cattle marketed during the month was 4% higher than last September. The on-feed total is 99% compared to this time last year.

The population of cattle in feedlots is currently made up of 40 percent heifers as the trend of herd contraction continues. The USDA also released its monthly Livestock Slaughter report Friday, showing the highest September beef production total on record. Beef cow harvest in September was 8.3% higher than 2021 and is now running 13% higher year-to-date. Dairy cow harvest is 2.6% lower than 2021 year-to-date. Heifer harvest continues to outpace last year, 5.2% higher than 2021 with steer harvest 1.3% lower year-to-date. The wholesale beef market was active last week, with the Choice beef cutout value gaining $5.60 to end Friday at $253.71, putting it about $29.00 lower than this time last year.

Pork production running behind 2021 totals

Pork production in September was down slightly compared to last year, but still running 3% behind 2021. The average live weight is two pounds heavier than 2021 at 285 pounds. Last week’s harvest estimate of 2.571 million hogs was 26,000 higher than the previous week and 35,000 below the same week last year.

The pork cutout value was up slightly last week, finishing Friday at $100.94. The cutout was showing weakness at mid-week, however. The 40,800 metric tons of pork export sales mentioned in last week’s Weekly Livestock Market Update was the largest total since March of this year. This week’s report showed total sales of 20,300 – a large drop, but more in line with recent weeks.

Lagging demand plagues lamb market

Lambs were called steady to $4.00/cwt lower last week as heavy lambs and lagging demand continue to weigh on prices. The lamb cutout value was 55 cents lower, ending last week at $558.31. Harvest estimates were once again 33,000 head, a level that has been maintained for several weeks. The figure was still 8,000 head lower than the same week last year.

State livestock market roundup

Choice beef breed steers and heifers were mostly higher this week. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $123.00 to $149.00/cwt. Groups of high Choice and Prime lots selling from $150.00 to $157.00/cwt. Choice Holstein steers were steady, bringing $107.00 to $134.00/cwt with high grading Holstein steers bringing $135.00 to $140.00/cwt and some packages selling higher.  

Silage fed, under finished or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75.00 to $107.00/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were bringing $105.00 to $145.00/cwt.

Cows were $1.00 lower. A bulk of the cows brought $50.00 to $72.00/cwt with some selling into the low 80’s. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $50.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were steady, bringing $50.00 to $100.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $155.00/cwt. 

Beef and Beef Cross calves were mostly steady to lower, selling to $350.00/cwt. Market lambs brought $95.00 to $105.00/cwt with some reports of tops to $150.00/cwt.