Hog Slaughter Leads Red Meat Production Up

Total red meat production rose seasonally during the second week of July as pork production expanded beyond the reach of even last year’s inflated production.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and National Agricultural Statistics Service data show total red meat production for that week at 931 million pounds.  This was comprised of pork production at 444.1 million, beef production at 482.9 million, veal production at 1.3 million and lamb and mutton production at 2.7 million.

It was pork production that stuck out as significant.  All meat and poultry production dropped during the first week of July as the industries observed the Independence Day holiday.  Production and slaughter picked up again the following week, but hog slaughter, at 2.121 million head, was above the previous year’s 2.081 million by 40,500, or 1.95%.

What is significant is the way hog slaughter and pork production continue at or above even last year’s inflated levels and well above the previous five-year average.  Beef production continues to run above last year but below the 2010-2014 average.

It shouldn’t be surprising to those following the beef industry that beef production is above last year.  The herd is growing, sending more calves to the feedlots for fattening and eventual slaughter for beef.

But it may be slipping by some that hog inventories also are up.  The latest NASS Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report showed a total herd as of June 1 at 68.4 million head, up 2% from a year earlier and even up 1% from March 1 of this year.

That extra supply will result in greater hog slaughter and more pork production.




Also significant in the latest beef production statistics is the near-record amount of beef grading choice as a percent of total beef graded by USDA inspectors.  Despite the hot weather, cattle feeders are finding ways to increase choice beef production to unseasonal levels.

Choice beef production as a percent of total beef produced in the first week of July rose to a record high for the week of 71.8%.  This was 1.5 percentage points, or 2.13%, above the 70.3% of a year ago.  It also was up 8.37 percentage points, or 13.2%, above the 2010-2014 average of 63.4%.

It goes to show that feedlot managers pay attention to market stimuli of higher prices for a particular product and rally to the cause.  A growing number are keeping better records of blood lines and correlating them to grading data of their calves from the packing plants and adjusting their breeding programs accordingly.




Cash cattle markets Thursday were quiet after trading $2 per cwt lower than last week at $115 on a live basis Wednesday.  In dressed markets, prices Wednesday were $2 to $4 lower at mostly $185 with some in Iowa at $184.

Cash cattle markets Tuesday traded lightly with scattered Nebraska sales at $186 to $187 per cwt on a dressed basis, steady to $1 lower than last week.

The USDA’s choice cutout Thursday was $0.61 per cwt lower at $200.70, while select was off $1.19 at $189.82.  The choice/select spread widened to $10.88 from $10.30 with 119 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $140.23 per cwt, down $1.05.  This compares with the Aug settlement Thursday of $134.40, down $4.22.