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WASDE forecasts larger meat and poultry production

Higher beef, pork and broiler output boost production forecasts.

Krissa Welshans

January 15, 2024

2 Min Read
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the January “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report Friday, revealing a higher 2023 red meat and poultry production forecast than last month. The higher forecast, at 106.91 billion lbs., was due to higher beef, pork, and broiler production in the fourth quarter, the report noted. USDA also raised its 2024 forecast, from 106.60 billion lbs. to 106.97 billion lbs., on higher expected beef, pork, and broiler production.

USDA raised the 2024 beef forecast due to higher expected first-half cattle slaughter, as well as higher dressed weights. USDA’s “Cattle” report, which will be released January 31, will provide an indication of the number of cattle available for placement during 2024 as well as producer intentions for retaining heifers for addition to the breeding herd, the agency said.

Meanwhile, first-half pork production was raised to reflect pig crop data for the second half of 2023. Production in the second half reflects first-half 2024 farrowing intentions reported in the December “Quarterly Hogs and Pigs” report and expectations of somewhat slower-than-recent growth in the pigs per litter rate, USDA noted.

Poultry and egg production numbers for 2024 were more of a mixed bag as the U.S. continues to grapple with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The broiler production forecast was raised for the first half based on recent hatchery data, but hatchery data and expected pressure from lower prices led to a lower first-half turkey production forecast. USDA also lowered the 2024 egg production forecast “due to reductions of the layer flock as a result of HPAI-related culling through early January.”

Looking ahead to 2024, USDA left cattle prices unchanged at $178.00/cwt. The hog price forecast was lowered to $58.00/cwt., “reflecting continued softness in demand and increased hog supplies.” Broiler prices are projected higher, at $1.26/lb., on demand strength in late 2023, which USDA said is expected to carry over into 2024. Turkey prices for 2024 were lowered to $1.11/lb. as soft demand in late 2023 is expected to continue into 2024. Egg prices for 2024 were raised to $1.65/doz. on recent prices and impacts of recent HPAI outbreaks on the flock size, USDA said.  

Milk production forecast lowered

Lower milk cow inventories and lower expected milk per cow led USDA to reduce both its 2023 and 2024 milk production forecasts to 226.6 and 228.3 billion lbs., respectively. USDA’s “Cattle” report will provide an indication of dairy producer intentions for retaining dairy heifers.

Regarding 2024, USDA lowered cheese prices due to recent price weakness. Butter, non-fat dry milk (NDM) and whey prices, on the other hand, were all expected to be higher. But the lower cheese prices outweighed the whey prices, leading USDA to lower the Class III price. Class IV prices were raised due to higher butter and NDM price forecasts. USDA lowered the 2024 all milk price to $20.00/cwt.

About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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