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Market Reports

Read new forecasts and indicators involving beef cattle and feed markets. Find out what factors are affecting prices.

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Drought is playing a significant role in the cattle cycle. Two years of drought have deteriorated pasture and forage conditions, and the pastureland condition index for 2022 is off to its worst start for the grazing season since the series began in 1995 (Figure 1).

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In the first quarter of 2022, federally inspected (FI) nonfed cattle slaughter reached volumes not seen since the mid-1980s, based on USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) estimated and actual weekly slaughter data through the week ending April 2, 2022.

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In the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) semiannual Cattle report released on Jan. 31, the total number of cattle and calves on Jan. 1, 2022, was estimated at 91.902 million head – 2%, or nearly 1.888 million head lower than the previous year.

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Beef production in 2021 is expected to total 27.95 billion pounds, up 55 million pounds from the previous month’s forecast. This increase is driven by a more rapid pace of cow and bull slaughter as well as by heavier cattle dressed weights.

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In November, slaughter was higher year-over-year. While the increase in total cattle slaughter can be attributed to the additional slaughter day in November 2021 relative to a year prior, the average pace of fed cattle slaughter was higher on a per-weekday basis, with Saturday slaughter averaging lower.

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Based on the latest USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) federally inspected Livestock Slaughter report, the inferred (federally inspected production/federally inspected head slaughtered) carcass weight for September is 827.1 pounds, while the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) weekly actual and estimated federally inspected Livestock Slaughter reports showed that the inferred weight for October was 831.8 pounds, about 4.7 pounds heavier month-over-month.

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