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CME: Cattle Slaughter During W3/2019 Slightly Higher Than a Year Ago

22 January 2019

US - The table at the bottom of the page continues to have a few gaps in it. Missing is weekly cow and sow slaughter data well as the number of broiler chick placements and egg sets, reports Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc.

But even if most of the supply information still appears to be there, we would caution about the fact that the numbers presented are at best estimates. The beef and pork supply information that is included comes from USDA-AMS.

In the past, that information would get updated using actual slaughter/weight/production data from NASS, based on detailed reports they received from the field. At this time the slaughter information, for instance, comes from daily contacts with plants.

The weekly weight information is even fuzzier. AMS normally calculates average weights based on the trend from previous weeks. That trend is constantly adjusted as actual information becomes available and thus it is normally close to the actual.

The only time when there is a big discrepancy comes during seasonal inflection points, with weights sharply diverging from trend. The problem is that actual information has not been available since 8 December.

So what is the trend? Notice in the table that the average cattle carcass weight for week ending 19 January was reported to be 832 pounds (fed/non-fed), unchanged from the previous week and 0.4 percent higher than a year ago.

And yet, the information that is available from Mandatory Price Reporting suggests that at least fed cattle weights are sharply lower than a year ago and they continue to decline. Cattle slaughter last week was 620,000 head, 1.2 percent higher than a year ago.

Add to this the estimated 0.4 percent increase in weights and it results in a 1.7 percent increase in beef production (rounding affects the total). But if we were to adjust weights to levels where we think they are right now, production for the week would be fairly close to where it was last year.

So yes, some information is still available but the longer we continue to miss the actual statistics the more difficult it will be to truly understand what is happening on the ground.

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