Weekly livestock market update from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture
Prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist. Market Update draws information from a variety of sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, and individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports.
■ Feeders and packers will try to maintain positive margins this month. The fed cattle that are now being marketed were purchased last summer when feed prices were higher, combined with higher feed costs. Feedlot operators will tap into the supply of low-fed livestock at higher bids. Packers saw gains in wholesale prices during the last two weeks of 2022 and will manage production and supply schedules for beef. This is the scenario that usually causes the development of Qatari trade to wait until late in the week. Farmers in the Midwest will be incentivized to sell livestock amid mild temperatures and before any other weather event. Futures volume has been reported below year-ago levels and will make bottlers more dependent on cash markets. For now, the packers are finding enough cattle to continue bidding steady money. Federal cattle prices are up nearly 14% from a year ago, while Choice beef cuts are up 5% to 6% compared to the beginning of 2022. Choice beef cuts were up $1.01 over the course of the week, ending the day Friday at $282.99. . The estimated harvest for last week was 563,000, which puts it up 16,000 from the previous week, but 56,000 less than last year. #
■ Margins are still in the red for farmers from far to close. According to the Sterling Profit Tracker, losses per capita were $24.00 last week. That’s $20.00 per pig more loss than the same week last year. Pork carcass cut values ended last week as low as $3.90 at $84.00 and continued to run lower through the middle of the week. A decline in harvest volumes during the holidays has put pressure on both cash and futures prices to start 2023. Steve Meyer of Kerns and Associates, Ames, Iowa tracks real per capita expenditure (RPCE) of pork. Its latest data shows that the RPCE for pork has been below year-ago levels since August and the year-to-year decline is increasing. Pork production for November was 8% lower than a year earlier, but Meyer notes that 2021 levels were record highs. There is evidence to support that consumers spend less on pork, beef and chicken at the retail and foodservice level. Overall demand for meat protein remains strong, but concerns remain about consumer confidence and economic news. Last week’s harvest of 2.296 million pigs was 102,000 more than the previous week and 256,000 less than the same week last year. #
■ The yield of sheep and lambs last week was estimated at about 26,000 head, even with the previous week and 7,000 head less than the same week last year. The lighter volume helped improve wholesale mutton prices. The value of the carcass cut Monday was $537.13, which puts it $5.43 higher than Dec. 30. Retailers featured racks of lamb during the holidays and put up advertisements for the lambs to promote them. Premium activity in retail declined during the first week of this year, which was expected. While the United States continues to import more lamb than it exports, developing markets such as the Caribbean for muscle cuts has been a bright spot in 2022. #
■ Federal cattle prices in Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were flat. High yielding, high grade cattle brought in from $133.00 to $152.00 per ton. Combinations of High Choice and Prime contracts sold from $153.00 to $166.00/cwt. The Holstein steer market was strong this week ranging from $115.00 to $141.00/kWh with a few bundles selling to $143.00. Feed fed, from dairy ready or heavy breeds, brought in $77.00 to $115.00 per ton. Dairy x Beef calves were fetching $107.00 to $145.00 per ton with packages to $150.00 per ton. Cows were stationary at a higher level. A large batch of cows brought in $54.00 to $75.00 per ton with some cows selling as high as $80.00. Questionable health and skinny cows were fetching $54.00 per ton and less. Dairy-bred bull calves were higher, fetching $70.00 to $150.00/kW with the heaviest, and well-kept bull calves up to $210.00/kW. Beef veal and beef cross held steady, selling for $350.00 per ton. Market lambs brought in $120.00 to $132.00 per ton. There have been reports of lighter lambs selling at $170.00/dw. #
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– Wisconsin Department of Agriculture