USDA recently reduced its forecast for beef production in 2018 by 30 million pounds. The new forecast is 26.9 billion pounds. The slight revision is based on numbers at the end of the third quarter, and from fourth-quarter expectations of slightly fewer steers and heifers to be slaughtered and fewer bulls in the slaughter mix.
The industry website Meating Place Dot Com says those slaughter numbers are all found in USDA’s monthly Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook report. Despite the lower slaughter prediction in the fourth quarter of this year, the steer and heifer slaughter rate per weekday in the fourth quarter is expected to remain above the rate for the same period in 2017. The 2019 beef production forecast was lowered by 100 million pounds to 27.8 billion. The adjustment comes from fewer-than-expected cattle placed in feedlots in the third-quarter of 2018, which would reduce the expected number of fed cattle marketed and slaughtered in early 2019.
The September Cattle on Feed Report says there were 4.7 percent fewer cattle placed in feedlots, but 3.6 percent fewer cattle marketed than last year. That means there are 5.4 percent more cattle on feed than a year ago, which supports expectations of strong marketing in the first half of 2019.