Beef imports were up 48.8% during February with most of the increase coming from Australia, Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand. Beef imports equaled 14.4% of U.S. production during February.
U.S. beef exports were down 2.6% in February with sizable declines in shipments to Mexico, Hong Kong and Canada. Beef exports equaled 10.1% of February production.
Cattle imports from Canada were down 15.2% in February. Imports of cattle from Mexico were up 3.5% compared to February 2014.
Domestic beef demand was up 12.5% in February compared to a year earlier.
The April WASDE predicted 2015 beef production will be down 0.2% compared to last year with fed cattle prices averaging in the low $160s.
Fed cattle prices this week were lower on light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $163.13/cwt, down $3.54 from last week's average, but up $13.81 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $264.01/cwt, down 71 cents for the week, but up $24.43 compared to the same week last year.
This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $257.16/cwt, up $1.19 from the previous Friday and up $34.89 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $251.05/cwt this morning, up $1.58 from last week and up $38.09 from a year ago.
Cattle slaughter this week totaled 502,000 head, down 4.4% from the week before and down 12.7% from the same week last year.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 28 was 874 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before and up 22 pounds compared to the same week last year. Steer weights have been above year-ago each week since June 14, 2014.
Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were mostly steady to $3 higher this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $309-$343, 450-500# $304, 500-550# $281-$301, 550-600# $253-$283, 600-650# $248-$268, 650-700# $229.50-$234.25, 700-750# $217-$225.50, 750-800# $212.50-$224.50, 800-900# $195.75-$213.25, and 900-1000#, $187.25-$199/cwt.
The April live cattle futures contract settled at $158.80/cwt today, down $4.22 for the week. June fed cattle settled at $148.80/cwt, down $4.57 from the previous week. August fed cattle lost $3.27 this week to settle at $146.55/cwt. October live cattle ended the week at $148.42/cwt.
The April feeder cattle contract ended the week at $212.45/cwt, down $7.92 for the week. May feeders settled at $209.72/cwt which is $7.73 lower than the week before. The August contract ended the week at $211.45/cwt.