USDA beef production forecast raised on slightly higher slaughter

The US beef production outlook for 2024 is up marginally by 140 million pounds from last month’s forecast to 26.325 billion pounds, according to the most recent USDA Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook report. This is based on a temporal shift of fed cattle marketings out of the first quarter and into the later quarters. Further, there is an expectation of higher cow slaughter (females that had a calf) in the first half than anticipated last month, likely supported by the surge in cull cow prices.

The forecast for first-quarter beef production is lowered by 120 million pounds from last month. From last month’s expectation for first-quarter slaughter, the pace of fed cattle slaughter has been much slower, but it was partially offset by a faster pace of cow slaughter. Further, anticipated bull slaughter was adjusted slightly lower on weekly slaughter data. In the second quarter, the forecast for beef production is increased 145 million pounds from last month. This is the result of shifting a portion of fed cattle marketings from the first quarter to the second quarter. 

Anticipated cow slaughter in the second quarter was adjusted higher based on the pace of beef cow slaughter in the first quarter and strong cull cow prices. In the third and fourth marketings pushed into the second half as higher forecast fed cattle prices are expected to encourage feedlots to market cattle more aggressively.