Cattle futures turned in a relatively quiet, two-sided session yesterday, officially settling mostly lower, but rallying back toward unchanged by the end of the afternoon hours. We still haven’t seen any real cash cattle trade yet this week and continue to monitor what could be a significant winter weather event on tap Sunday through Tuesday for much of CO, KS, and into NE/IA to negatively impact cattle performance and carcass weights. Week ending January 16 carcass data out yesterday showed both steer and heifer carcasses down 4 lbs vs the prior week. This afternoon, the USDA will release their semi-annual cattle inventory count, where average trade estimates show the industry expecting the all cattle and calves count to be up 1.8% vs last year, last year’s calf crop up 2.1%, beef cows up 3.0%, and beef replacement heifers up 4.3%. Between ultra-low cow and heifer slaughter and very positive cow-calf production economics this past year, I think the evidence is strong that herd rebuilding is definitely under way, but how quickly is it occurring??
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