Year-to-Date Slaughter Numbers Suggest a Rapid Deceleration in the US Beef Cow Herd ExpansionWed, 14 Nov 2018 10:15:25 CST
When you break down the numbers of cattle being processed or slaughtered here in 2018, it tells an interesting story - so says Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Market Economist Dr. Derrell Peel. He explained the breakdown of current slaughter picture with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays.
“There’s a very different story here. We can look at overall cattle slaughter and see it is up about 2.7 percent for the year to date. And, that’s about what it will stay on a year-over-year basis as we finish out the year,” Peel said. “But, when you look at the different classes you get very different stories. Steer slaughter has been on of the harder things to get a handle on this year.”
According to Peel’s analysis as described in his article in this week’s Cow/Calf Corner newsletter, "steer slaughter continues to run below year ago levels so far this year. This despite the fact that the quarterly feedlot inventories have shown more steers on feed in 2018 compared to last year. For the year to date, steer slaughter is about one percent below last year but in the last four weeks has averaged very close to year ago levels. Steer slaughter has averaged 51.6 percent of total cattle slaughter so far this year, down from 52.9 percent of total cattle slaughter in 2017. As heifer and cow slaughter return to normal levels, steer slaughter will move closer to the long-term average of 50.6 percent of total slaughter.
"Heifer slaughter so far this year is averaging about seven percent above year ago levels with smaller year over year increases in recent weeks pulling the year to date total down to a smaller increase,” he continues. “In the last four weeks, heifer slaughter has averaged just 1.5 percent over year earlier levels. Heifer slaughter thus far in 2018 has averaged 27.8 percent of total cattle slaughter, up from 27.2 percent in 2017. As heifer retention continues to slow, heifer slaughter will approach the long-term average just under 30 percent of total cattle slaughter.
"Total cow slaughter is up 7.3 percent year to date with beef cow slaughter up 10.5 percent year over year as beef cow culling returns to long term average levels. Dairy cow slaughter has moved higher as months of poor dairy economics have pushed the dairy sector to reduce cow numbers somewhat,” Peel concluded. “Dairy cow slaughter is currently up 4.3 percent year over year for the year to date. Cow slaughter is averaging 18.9 percent of total cattle slaughter so far in 2018 compared to a long-term average of 17.7 percent of total slaughter. Cow carcass weights are averaging nearly five pounds heavier year over year with more dairy cows adding to cow carcass weights.”
“You put it all together and we’re going to see an increase in slaughter,” he said, “but sort of different things happening across the board in the different sectors.”
Based on the data available, it is Peel’s impression that these numbers indicate that the US beef cow herd has probably expanded slightly for the year and expects the 2019 reports to show an increase of as much as a half a percent perhaps. However, he says they also strongly indicate that expansion has slowed rapidly and believes that 2019 will mark the peak in overall herd expansion.
Listen to Peel breakdown the numbers to better understand the overall slaughter picture right now, on today’s Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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