Beef production falling even as heavier cattle move in

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Fewer cattle slaughtered in August led to lower beef production in August, a trend expected to continue as cattle numbers are predicted to fall and cattle weights could subside.

Beef production in August totaled 2.24 billion pounds, a five percent decline from the previous year and two percent lower than the previous month. Beef production was 2.37 billion pounds a year earlier and 2.29 billion pounds a month prior.

The declining beef production is a result of lower slaughter numbers, although the fall was limited by heavier cattle. The USDA Livestock Slaughter report shows 2.82 million cattle were slaughtered in August, 70,000 head less than a month earlier and 180,000 below totals from August 2012.

Slaughter numbers have fallen with fewer animals available and more cattle retained while pastures are in good condition. Lower feed costs have made herd retention more affordable as well.

Despite lower slaughter numbers, heavier cattle prevented beef production from fall too far. Last month’s live weight average was 1,310 pounds, an increase of 8 pounds compared to a month earlier and 10 pounds above the previous year’s average.

Lower beef production contributed to the overall lower red meat production, which decreased by four percent from a year earlier. Red meat production totaled 4.2 billion pounds in August.

Red meat production in 2013 was 32.5 billion pounds, down slightly from 2012. Accumulated beef production was down 1 percent from last year, veal was down 6 percent.

Veal production totaled 9.1 million pounds, 11 percent below August a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 64,500 head, down 11 percent from August 2012. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from last year, at 240 pounds.

August 2012 contained 23 weekdays (including 0 holidays) and 4 Saturdays.
August 2013 contained 22 weekdays (including 0 holidays) and 5 Saturdays.



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