Beef-cattle slaughter last week, at 645,000 head, increased by almost 15 percent over the previous holiday-shortened week, but remained about 5 percent below one year ago. With slaughter weights slightly lower than last year, USDA reports beef production last week at 5.6 percent lower than one year ago. Wholesale beef prices, which have shown some signs of trying to improve, leveled off last week with the Choice cutout averaging $142.04 per hundredweight compared with $142.12 the previous week.

Fed cattle lost a little ground, averaging $83.55 per hundredweight last week, compared with $84 the prior week.

The September Cattle on Feed report, released on Sept. 18, shows feedyard inventories as of Sept. 1 at 1 percent below those of a year ago. Lower grain prices and premiums in the futures market have helped stimulate late-summer placements, bringing on-feed numbers more in line with the year-ago totals.

CattleNetwork reports that feedyard occupancy as of Sept. 1 posted its first increase this year, reaching 59.17 percent. Back in March, feedyards had 67.23 percent of their pen space full, but occupancy declined steadily to 57.75 percent by August. Click  here for CattleNetwork’s full breakdown of the cattle-on-feed numbers.