Cattle Outlook: Forecast Calls for Less Beef


While the weather forecast have called for colder temperatures the USDA is forecasting lower beef production for 2015.
By: Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri

The November WASDE increased by 0.4% USDA's forecast of 2014 beef production, but lowered their forecast of next year's production by 0.5%. They now predict 2014 beef production will be down 4.9% from last year and next year's beef production will be 3.2% lower than this year. This year's beef production is the lowest since 1994.

USDA's forecast for fed cattle prices is for the average to be close to $154.40/cwt this year and in the upper $150s next year. These are far above last year's record of $125.89/cwt.

Total red meat and poultry production is forecast to be 1.6% higher in 2015 than this year.

USDA lowered their forecast of 2014 corn production by 68 million bushels and raised their forecast of the seasonal average corn price by 10 cents to between $3.20 and $3.80 per bushel. They left the midpoint of their soybean price forecast unchanged at $10/bu.

Fed cattle sales volume was light again this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $167.53/cwt, up 66 cents from last week's average and up $36.68 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers was $262.00/cwt, up 87 cents for the week and up $57.00 from the same week last year.

Boxed beef prices were mixed this week. This morning the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $252.87/cwt, up $3.71 from the previous Friday and up $50.62 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is $238.35/cwt, down 9 cents from last week, but up $49.85 from a year ago.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 560,000 head, down 0.7% from the previous week and down 6.8% from the corresponding week last year. This was the 37th consecutive week with cattle slaughter below the year-ago level.

Slaughter weights continue to be very heavy. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on November 1 was 902 pounds, unchanged from the week before, but up 25 pounds compared to the same week last year.

Feeder cattle prices at this week's Oklahoma City auction were mostly steady to $2 higher on heavier weights and $5 to $10 higher on calves. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $334-$350, 450-500# $308-$341, 500-550# $290-$315, 550-600# $267-$299, 600-650# $243-$286, 650-700# $227.50-$252.50, 700-750# $220-$245, 750-800# $220-$240, 800-900# $222.50-$241.25, and 900-1000# $217/cwt.

The December live cattle futures contract settled at $170.20, up $3.40 for the week. February settled at $171.27/cwt, up $2.90 from the previous Friday. The April contract closed at $169.25/cwt.

The November feeder cattle contract ended the week at $240.00/cwt, up $1.48 for the week. January feeders closed at $236.12/cwt, up $3.67 compared to last Friday.


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