Current Cattle On Feed Report Highest Since 1996

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 USDA Cattle on Feed report released last Friday showed placements above the average trade guess. February feedlot placements were 1.848 million head, up 9.3 percent year over year and the highest February placements since 2019. Total cattle on feed on March 1 was 1.4 percent higher than the previous year, making it the largest number on feed since reporting began in 1996. Fed cattle marketed in February was five percent higher than the same month in 2021. There will be a large supply of cattle to work through beginning sometime in May or June, but eventually supplies will tighten. Total beef production in February was 6.9 percent more than a year ago with harvest up 6.5 percent and dressed weights up 0.4 percent. Total beef production is 2.3 percent higher year-to-date when compared to 2021. Beef cow harvest for the month was 25.8 percent higher than last February and is running 18.3 percent higher year-to-date. The harvest estimate last week was 659,000 head, 15,000 more than the previous week and 10,000 more than the same week a year ago. The Choice beef cutout value has been making gains and jumped $2.04 on Wednesday to $266.54. The U.S. and Japan reached an agreement last week to increase the beef safeguard trigger level. The safeguard level deals with the amount of beef allowed to be imported by Japan before tariffs increase. Beef exports to Japan totaled almost $2.4 billion in 2021.

■ The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report released by the USDA on Wednesday was bullish with all categories below trade estimates. U.S. inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2022 was 72.2 million head. This was down two percent from March 1, 2021, and down three percent from December 1, 2021. Breeding inventory was down two percent from last year and down slightly from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory was down two percent from last year and down three percent from last quarter. The December 2021-February 2022 pig crop, was down one percent from last year. The USDA Monthly Slaughter report showed February pork production was 4.3 percent below the same month last year. Harvest was 4.6 percent lower than a year ago with carcass weights up 0.5 percent. Year-to-date pork production is running 6.2 percent behind 2021. The estimated harvest last week was 2.419 million head, 11,000 less than the previous week and 128,000 less than the same week a year ago. The pork cutout value continued to gain ground last week but some of the improvement was given back this week. The cutout value was posted at $103.72 on Wednesday. Cash hog prices were higher on Wednesday. It is expected Lean Hog futures will trade higher based on this week’s Hogs and Pigs report.

■ Lamb and mutton production, at 9.2 million pounds, was down 14 percent from February 2021. Sheep harvested totaled 143,400 head, 12 percent below last year. The average live weight was 128 pounds, down four pounds from February a year ago. Veal production totaled 4.2 million pounds, 10 percent below February a year ago.

■ Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were mostly steady. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $121.00 to $138.00/cwt. Once again, high Choice and Prime type cattle with an overnight stand at the auction market sold higher up to $142.00/cwt. with some higher. Choice and Prime Holstein steers were strong again this week, at $93.00 to $125.00/cwt. with reports of some high yielding steers selling to $128.00/cwt and a few above. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $70.00 to $93.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were mostly $100.00 to $134.00/cwt. Cows were mixed to $2.00 higher at $52.00 to $79.00/cwt. Beef breed cows in fleshier condition sold into the low $90.00s/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $53.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were higher bringing $65.00 to $150.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $200.00/cwt. Beef and beef cross calves were lower bringing up to $350.00/cwt. Feeder cattle prices have been stronger with good demand in anticipation of tightening demand. Market lambs were higher selling up to $250.00/cwt.