USDA Livestock, dairy, and poultry outlook

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Farm Forum

Beef/Cattle: Drought has continued through early February 2013. In the aftermath of more than 2 years of drought, pasture development and feed markets in 2013 will be particularly sensitive to weather uncertainties, especially through the second and third quarters of 2013 as crops and pastures develop. Pasture development will be a focus of concern, especially for beef cattle producers, particularly cow-calf and stocker operations, and will determine when cow herd rebuilding will begin. It will also affect the timing of placements of feeder cattle in feedlots.

Beef/Cattle Trade: U.S. beef exports for 2012 totaled 2.45 billion pounds, 12 percent lower than in 2011. Beef imports totaled 2.2 billion pounds, or nearly 8 percent higher than in 2011. Cattle imports from Canada and Mexico were 15 and 3 percent higher, respectively, year over year.

Pork/Hogs: U.S. pork exports in December, at 426 million pounds, were almost 14 percent below a year ago. Exports thus finished 2012 at 5.4 billion pounds, 3.7 percent above those of 2011. The top three foreign destinations for U.S. pork in 2012 were Japan, Mexico, and ChinaHong Kong.

Poultry: Broiler meat production in 2012 totaled 37.0 billion pounds, down 0.4 percent from the previous year. The outlook for 2013 is for a slight increase in production during the first three quarters and rising production in the fourth quarter, totaling 37.3 billion pounds. Turkey meat production in 2013 is forecast at 6 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2012. Turkey meat production is expected to decline slightly in second-quarter 2013 but increase in the remaining three quarters. Table egg production is expected to increase slightly (1.3 percent) in 2013, reaching 6.78 billion dozen, up from 6.7 billion dozen in 2012.

Poultry Trade: December broiler and egg shipments were both up from a year earlier, while turkey shipments were down. Broiler shipments totaled 607.1 million pounds, a 4-percent increase from last December’s shipments. Egg shipments were up 19 percent from a year ago, totaling 25.7 million dozen. Turkey shipments totaled 63.5 million pounds, an 11-percent decline from a year ago. The 2012 fourth-quarter broiler shipments registered as the fourth largest ever, while turkey and egg shipments were the largest shipments on record.

Sheep/Lamb: The sheep inventory registered a smaller decline than in the previous 2 years. Despite the drought conditions in most of the sheep-producing areas, the “grow our flock” program by the sheep industry appeared to slow the decline. The NASS Sheep and Goats report estimated the inventory of all sheep and lamb in the United States on January 1, 2013 as 5.34 million head, down 1 percent and a 30,000-head decline from 2012. Breeding sheep inventory decreased to 3.98 million head on January 1, 2013, down 1 percent from 4.0 million head on January 1, 2012. A 2-percent decline was seen in the 2012 lamb crop and is expected to result in further production declines during 2013, with production at around 152 million pounds. As a result, slaughter lamb prices, which declined significantly in 2012, are expected to show strength in 2013 and average around $104-$111 per hundredweight.

Dairy: Milk supplies will increase fractionally in 2013 as continued yield improvements offset herd declines. An improved feed outlook supports feeding rates and moderates the herd decline. Prices remain steady in light of a largely unchanged export forecast.