Encouraging cattle weights seen in US

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

Average monthly weights in March 2015 were the heaviest since 2003
Average monthly weights in March 2015 were the heaviest since 2003

Related tags Beef exports Meat Us Beef Livestock Pork Poultry

Cattle numbers in the US are on the up, but beef exports are continuing to be dragged down by a strong US dollar and high domestic beef prices, according to the May 2015 Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, published by the US Department of Agriculture.

This monthly overview of the market forecasts US beef exports will continue to struggle in 2015, with exports 4% down compared to last year.

Cattle slaughterings were 6% down on last year in the first quarter of 2015, reflecting a desire to hang on to cows that have or will have calves in 2015. Overall numbers are up slightly. However, cattle that have been moved to market are displaying some impressive weights, after an extended period grazing on wheat pasture. Average monthly weights in March 2015 were the heaviest since 2003 and reflect the improved pasture and forage conditions.

March beef and veal imports were up 33.3% compared to last year, mainly from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada. The relative strength of the dollar, in conjunction with strong demand for processing-grade beef, has helped boost total beef imports this year.

Pork production in 2016 is expected to be about 1% higher than in 2015. Hog prices are expected to fall in response, with a predicted 5.4% price slump in 2016. Larger pork supplies and the lower prices that result should help to partially offset the effects of the higher US dollar exchange rate, leading to a 5.3% increase in 2016 US pork exports. 

Larger domestic pork supplies are expected to reduce import demand next year. The USDA is predicting a 13.4% decline in pork imports in 2016.

In poultry, broiler meat production was up 9.1% in March year-on-year. The gains were boosted by an additional slaughter day compared with a year earlier, but the increase reflects growth in the number of birds slaughtered per day and increased liveweights.

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