Beef Market Update: Smaller placements, bigger carcasses, and a need for sustained optimism


The cattle markets took a little breather this week, down from some of the highs set in January. It’s not unexpected for the time of year, says Anne Wasko with the Gateway Livestock Exchange, in this week’s Beef Market Update.

Wasko hits on the latest round of cattle prices in the U.S. and Canada, before moving in to some data on slaughter numbers for the first six weeks of the year (down, down sharply for cows) and slaughter weights (up, quite a bit). Decent feeding conditions for the first part of winter may be playing in to some of these higher weights.

At the time of this recording, the market was still waiting on the official January placement numbers, which will impact on-feed numbers, as well. Expectations, however, are for U.S. January placements to be down 15 per cent plus, which will also impact on-feed inventory numbers going forward.

Even though the market is signalling it may be time to hold heifers back and begin a re-build, ranchers aren’t all convinced, and for good reason. As Wasko says, economic uncertainty and poor pasture conditions have really weighed on ranchers โ€” it will take more confidence in the market direction and a return of moisture, to encourage a re-build.

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