Weather Pulling Beef Carcass Weights Down Resulting in Less Tonnage

Livestock Outlook 022119

Carcass weights are expected to be lighter for cattle hanging on the rail this year because of continued poor weather across many cattle feeding regions in the U.S.

USDA’s latest Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook notes that the end of 2018 finished with a slower pace of slaughter and lighter finished weights for cattle. The trend looks to carry into 2019, resulting in lower beef tonnage.

“The 2019 production forecast was reduced on lighter expected carcass weights and a reduced pace of slaughter in the first half of the year,” the report says.

The drop in carcass weights for fed cattle has lowered the production forecast by 175 million lb. resulting in a projected total of 27.6 billion lb. in 2019.

“Typically if you look at weather market years versus normal years, in weather market years carcass weights drop about 3% more from the fall high to the spring low,” says Kevin Good, vice president of industry relations with CattleFax.

Going into a cattle equivalent, Good says that losing 3% in carcass weights from an average slaughter rate of 500,000 cattle weekly is like taking 15,000 cattle out of the market in terms of weight.

To hear more on the prospects of profitability due to lower carcass weights and beef demand trends watch the AgDay video above.