MAY 23, 2011 – The week of May 2 nd saw a heavy increase in federally
inspected cattle harvest, with a total of 658,679 head reported by USDA.
In contrast with the previous week’s 620,000, it was a 6% increase. Steer
carcass weights gained 1 lb. from the year-to-date low to average 816 lb.,
while heifers dropped 3 lb. each to 748 lb., another low so far in 2011. If
2010 patterns hold, steer weights should have already put in the annual
low during the last two weeks in April and should now trend heavier
through October. Heifers, however, didn’t reach an annual carcass weight
low until mid-May last year before pushing seasonally higher. YTD fed
cattle harvest total is 11.5 million head through the first week in May, a
0.37% increase over last year. The net carcass tonnage is up 1.27% due
to an average increase of 8 lb. in carcass weight per head this year.
In the packers’ coolers, the national average for the proportion of
Choice carcasses dipped almost a percentage point on the week to end at
62.32% Choice with an additional 3.21% Prime. The black-hided share of
fed cattle rebounded on the week from 59.91% the week prior to a current
61.29%. The ratio of Choice carcasses certified by USDA into Premium
Choice branded programs stands at 24.42% for the week, the second
lowest week so far in 2011 with a YTD average of 26.24%.