April red meat production up on year

U.S. red meat production shot higher in April.

The USDA says commercial red meat production to start the second quarter of 2024 was 4.636 billion pounds, 10% more than last year.

That big increase followed faster cattle and hog slaughter paces, along with heavier average cattle weights. Beef production was 2.303 billion pounds, 11% higher, with a slaughter of 2.729 million head, up 7%, and an average weight of 1,395 pounds, a gain of 41, while pork production was 2.317 billion pounds, up 9%, with a slaughter of 10.749 million head, an increase of 10%, and an average weight of 290 pounds, down 1.

That year-to-year jump in beef included a rise in the heifer slaughter, but slaughter rates for all types of cows were down, while for pork, the barrow and gilt and sow slaughter paces were above a year ago.

The USDA says the dairy cow slaughter for April 2024 was 238,200 head, down 6,400 from March and 5,400 from April 2023, putting the running total for the year at 985,800 head, 128,400 slower than the year before.

For the year to date, U.S. commercial red meat production is 18.334 billion pounds, 1% faster than 2023, with beef slightly lower, and pork 2% higher.

The USDA’s next set of annual red meat production estimates is out June 12th.

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