Despite being in the midst of a global pandemic, the livestock industry is doing well after some struggles earlier in the year. In the third quarter of 2020, there is an overall percentage increase in meat production.

According to the USDA, “The average weights for pork, beef, broilers, and turkeys were heavier for the third quarter of 2020 than for the third quarter of 2019.” While carcass numbers are down in beef, broilers, and turkeys, the added weight has resulted in a percentage increase.

The USDA stated, “There were more hogs slaughtered in the third quarter of 2020 than in 2019, while slaughter for the other three meat species declined. Hog slaughter increased 4 percent and hog weights 1 percent, resulting in pork production increasing over 5 percent.” Furthermore, Ron Plain with National Hog Farmer explained while production is up, prices are lower than in recent years for a couple of reasons. One reason being the large supply of hogs, which is expected to set another production record for the sixth year in a row. The second reason includes COVID-19 impacts due to packers reducing slaughter schedules to protect employees.

Cattle slaughter was slightly down by 0.1 percent. Cattle weights saw a 2.8 percent increase, which lead to a 2.7 percent increase in beef production. “COVID-19 increased the backlog of heavy slaughter cattle,” according to Harlan Hughes with Beef Magazine. “Coupled with the market interruption from COVID-19, it’s projected to lower the 2020 annual average slaughter steer price, and to again lower the 2021 annual slaughter steer price. Then, decreasing beef production is projected to increase slaughter steer prices from 2022 through 2025.” For the overall amount of beef produced for the second half of 2020, it is projected to exceed 2019’s levels.

Broiler production saw an increase in weight, but slaughter numbers were reduced to 1.6 percent. Therefore, the overall production dropped slightly by 0.4 percent. Prices for broilers seem to be relatively steady per USDA December 2020 reports.
Concerning turkeys, “The increase in turkey weights offset the decline in number of turkeys to leave turkey production nearly unchanged,” according to USDA.

To stay up-to-date on current market trends, check out the market outlooks provided by the USDA Economic Research Service.