Livestock Marketing Information Center

Current Situation and Analysis
Last Updated: 5/24/2019
CATTLE MARKETS AND SECOND-HALF ’19 OUTLOOK

            U.S. cattle slaughter for the first quarter of 2019 was slightly above a year ago (up 0.7%, while tonnage produced was 0.8% below 2018’s. The year-over-year increase was due to larger heifer and cow (beef and dairy) harvests. Production declined because of lower dressed weights for steers, heifers, and cows. For the second quarter, LMIC projects more production than a year ago (rising 1.8%).


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MILK COW NUMBERS RECEDE, DAIRY PRICES STEADY TO UP

          The dairy herd posted a 1,000 head decline during April, following 17,000 head decline in March, according to the USDA-National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS). Milk production was close to unchanged (+0.1%) from a year earlier during April, after a 0.6% decline in March. Cow productivity rebounded to a 1% increase year-over-year, after a paltry half percent increase in March.


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BEEF IN COLD STORAGE TUMBLES

           Beef in cold storage fell another 21 million pounds in April from the previous month’s figure of 451 million. This is the lowest cold storage number since June of 2017.  Seasonally, beef in cold storage typically declines in the first 5 months of the year and remains there through the summer quarter before inventories build again in September through the end of the year. Another decline in May might take inventories back to the lowest levels since 2014. These smaller levels in cold storage point to several positive signs for the beef industry.


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