Livestock Marketing Information Center

Current Situation and Analysis
Last Updated: 1/12/2015
DAIRY SECTOR MITIGATES TIGHT FEEDER CATTLE SUPPLY IN 2014

In 2014, economic forces were at work pulling more cattle into feedlots to supplement tight U.S. cattle supplies. Looking at the data, it’s rather obvious that the U.S. imported more Mexican and Canadian feeder cattle. Additionally, U.S. dairy calves were pulled away from the veal industry and entered feedlots. Those factors in part mitigated the impacts of smaller U.S. calf crops in recent years and by late 2014 contributed to pushing the USDA-NASS reported number of cattle on-feed in U.S. feedlots, with 1000 head and larger capacity, slightly above a year earlier.


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STEER DRESSED WEIGHTS SEASONALLY DROPPING

Steer dressed weights hit a three month low the third week of December to sit at 892 pounds. Although the last week of December recorded a slight increase to 897 pounds, it appears the seasonal influence is finally taking effect on steer slaughter weights; also beginning in December severe winter weather began to impact animal performance in feedlots and decrease marketing weight.


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LONGER TERM CATTLE OUTLOOK

Over the next few years, a slow cyclical ramp-up in cattle numbers is expected. LMIC forecasts that cattle slaughter in 2015 will drop by 1% to 4% from 2014’s. Average dressed carcass weights may continue their long-term upward trend, resulting in a beef production decline of about 1%. Preliminary forecasts indicate that year-on-year drops in U.S. cattle slaughter may essentially end by 2016; in fact, by then beef tonnage may post a small year-over-year increase. 2016’s annual U.S.


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