Cattle Outlook: Beef, Cattle Imports Down

US - US beef exports during January were up 7.4 per cent compared to a year earlier (+12.1 million pounds), due largely to increased shipments to South Korea and Japan, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown, Ag Economics, MU.
calendar icon 14 March 2016
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January beef imports were down 3.2 per cent (-9.56 million pounds) due mostly to 14.9 million pounds less beef imported from Australia.

January beef imports equalled 14.7 per cent of US production while exports equalled 8.9 per cent of production. Lower beef prices and a weaker dollar likely will be necessary to bring balance to imports and exports.

The number of cattle imported from Mexico was down 26,631 head (33.5 per cent) compared to January 2015 and the imported number from Canada was down 4,724 head (8.4 per cent).

The Canadian cattle inventory was up 0.3 per cent at the start of 2016 to 11.96 million head. The Canadian cow herd was up a slight 0.1 per cent. The number of beef heifers being kept for herd replacements was up 4 per cent.

Fed cattle prices were steady to higher this week in light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a dressed weight basis was $218.09/cwt, up $6.09 from last week's average, but down $41.00 from a year ago. The 5-area average live steer price averaged $136.00/cwt.

Beef cutout values were higher this week. This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $224.12/cwt, up $3.35 from the previous Friday, but down $19.95 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $215.25/cwt, up $3.24 from last week, but down $29.34 from a year ago.

Last week's cattle slaughter totalled 536,000 head, up 0.6 per cent from last week and up 1.5 per cent from a year ago.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on February 27 was 887 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and up 12 pounds from a year ago. This was the 89th consecutive week with steer weights above the year-ago level.

Prices at the Oklahoma City Stockyards this week were mostly steady to $3 lower on feeder steers and steady on calves compared to last week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $208-$230, 450-500# $206-$213, 500-550# $190-$206, 550-600# $165-$199.50, 600-650# $164-$187, 650-700# $149.50-$179.25, 700-750# $147.10-$166.50, 750-800# $152-$161.50, 800-900# $139.25-$163.50 and 900-1000# $136-$143.75/cwt.

Cattle futures ended the week higher than the previous Friday. The April live cattle futures contract settled at $139.80/cwt today, up $3.45 for the week. June fed cattle settled at $128.55/cwt, up $2.08 from the previous week. The August contract ended the week at $123.20/cwt, up $1.28 from the previous Friday.

March feeder cattle ended the week at $162.40/cwt, up $3.90 from a week earlier. April futures gained $4.50 this week to close at $162.72/cwt. May feeder cattle settled at $162.10/cwt and August closed out the week at $161.35/cwt.

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