WASDE notes change in beef production, processing

Latest WASDE livestock report was issued. (Journal photo by Dave Bergmeier.)

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report has noted that beef production forecast was raised from the previous month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

The February projection for 2024 was estimated at 26,185 million pounds, compared to 26,110 million pounds in January.

Processing is lowered from the first half of 2024 and that reflects a slower pace of cattle slaughter. For the second half, steer and heifer processing was raised as the USDA’s January Cattle report implied a smaller decline in cattle outside feedlots than previously expected. As a result, cattle placed on feed in the first half will likely be marketed in the second half.

Carcass weights for the second half were also raised, according to WASDE.

Beef imports for 2024 were raised for the year on firm demand for imported beef and larger supplies of beef largely in Oceania. The beef export forecast was unchanged.

For 2024, cattle prices were raised on expected strength in first-half demand for fed cattle in the face of tightening feedlot numbers.

The price for steers based on direct prices reported by USDA was at $180 per hundredweight, compared to $175 per hundredweight in 2023.


Production was lowered on a slower pace of processing. The pork export forecast was raised on the pace of exports in late 2023 and expectations of continued firm demand in a number of key markets.

Hog prices were raised on lower pork production and steady demand. Pork production was estimated at 27.8 million pounds for 2024 compared to 27.3 million pounds for 2023. The price for barrows and guilts were estimated at $60 per hundredweight compared to $58.59 per hundredweight in 2023.

Boiler, turkey and eggs

Broiler production was raised for the first quarter on expectations of heavier bird weights. Turkey production was lowered as the sector continues to adjust to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza discoveries in 2023 and early 2024 as well as relatively weak demand. Egg production was reduced slightly on layer flock data.

Broiler exports were reduced on higher U.S. prices and weaker import demand, but lower turkey prices are expected to support gains in turkey exports in early 2024.

First half broiler prices are projected higher on current prices. Turkey prices were lowered on recent prices and continued weak demand. Egg prices were raised on recent prices and expectations of relatively firm demand strength post-Easter.

Broiler production was estimated at 46.7 million pounds for 2024, compared to 46.4 million in 2023. The price was estimated at 127 cents a pound for 2024 compared to 124 cents a pound in 2023. Turkey production was estimated at 5.4 million pounds in 2024, compared to 5.45 million pounds in 2023. The prices were estimated at 107 cents per pound in 2024 compared to 140 cents per pound in 2023.

Egg production is estimated at 9.3 million dozen eggs in 2024 compared to 9.18 million dozen eggs in 2023. The price per dozen is estimated 183 cents per dozen in 2024, compared to 192 cents per dozen in 2023.


Milk production was lowered due to lower expected output per cow, which is partially offset by higher cow inventories. On a fat basis, domestic use was raised as a more rapid pace of disappearance during the fourth quarter of 2023 carries over into 2024.

Fat exports were raised, based on higher expected butter and cheese exports, as the U.S. is expected to be competitive on international market for those products. Fat basis imports were lowered.

Skim-solids basis domestic use was also raised based on higher-than-expected disappearance in the fourth quarter of 2023. Skim-solids basis exports were lowered to reflect the strength of domestic prices as domestic demand is stronger.

Cheese, butter, nonfat dry milk and whey prices for 2024 were all raised based on recent price strength, tighter supplies of milk and stronger domestic use. Class III and Class IV prices in 2024 were also raised based on higher product prices.

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The all-milk price estimate for 2023 was reduced to $20.48 per hundredweight based on reported data through December.  The all-milk price forecast for 2024 was raised to $20.95 per hundredweight. Milk production was pegged at 228 billion pounds in 2024 compared to 227 billion pounds in 2023.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].