U.S. cattle dressed weights lower

Steer weights remain above long-term averages.

Steer weights in 2017 are lower than a year ago, driven by aggressive marketing of slaughter-ready animals in feedlots, especially compared to a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent “Livestock, Dairy & Poultry Outlook.” USDA said this is due to greater profit margins for retail meat packers than in 2016. However, steer weights remain above their 10-year average, a period in which 2011-13 corn prices averaged more than $6/bu.


USDA explained that the seasonality of steer dressed weights is largely determined by biological factors and weather-related impacts on animal growth. Seasonally, steer weights tend to increase from the spring months and then decline from late fall into the early spring months.

A long-term trend of sustained growth in dressed weights, however, is due to improvements in cattle genetics through selective breeding and the implementation of modern production systems, USDA said.

Several factors interact to influence year-over-year changes in steer carcass weights, including: producers’ responses to the market prices of outputs and inputs (feed and feeder animals); weights and the age at which animals are placed into feedlots, and animals’ biological responses to abnormal weather.

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