Beef Market Update: USDA Cattle on Feed, calving season, and dry pasture conditions on the Prairies


Spring has sprung in the cattle industry as ranchers focus on calving and feedyards spread manure. There are many moving parts right now for the beef industry including trade deals, consumer demand, and any ripple impacts on the protein complex due to African swine fever.

On Thursday the USDA released its Cattle on Feed report for April 1, 2019.  Analysts were expecting cattle on feed for April 1 to be up 2 per cent, March placements up 4 per cent, and March marketings down 3 per cent. The actual results were what analysts predicted aside from March placements. For that, placements were up by 5 per cent.

“Most feel that the spring highs in the cash cattle market are in but it still doesn’t rule out a small cash rally after Easter but we are quickly running out of time for that scenario before we get to the larger summer supplies,”says Anne Wasko, with the Gateway Livestock Exchange.

In terms of ripple effects from ASF, Wasko says: “We are still trying to figure out how trade flows will be impacted with reduced global pork production but there is always an elastic band relationship between beef and pork prices. Don’t forget that as prices rise for beef and pork other protein alternatives, like chicken, will be competing in the market as well.”

You can hear Shaun Haney’s pre-USDA report discussion with Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange below.  If you have any feedback, thoughts or questions you can send them to [email protected]

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