Meat & Livestock News

USDA Reports on Recent Trends in Meat Production


  • A decrease in beef output and an increase in pork production highlight the latest USDA figures.
  • Poultry production sees a modest rise, with a notable dip in veal output.
  • The latest Cattle on Feed report indicates stable cattle numbers with a decrease in new feedlot placements.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the US Department of Agriculture has unveiled the newest data on the nation’s meat production and slaughter rates as of February. The statistics present a varied landscape across the meat sector, comparing year-on-year figures.

In the beef sector, there’s been a slight downturn, with production at 2.28 billion lbs, marking a 2% decrease from the previous year. This is mirrored by a 3% fall in cattle slaughter numbers, which stood at 2.73 million head. Conversely, the pork industry has witnessed growth, with production reaching 2.47 billion lbs, up by 2% from last year, and hog slaughter numbers increasing to 11.4 million head, also up by 2%.

Veal has experienced a significant reduction in production, down by 12% to 3.9 million lbs, aligning with the overall trend of reduced cattle slaughter.

On the poultry front, the industry has shown resilience with a 2% increase in production, totalling 6 billion lbs of federally inspected poultry in January 2024. Breakdowns reveal a 2% increase in young chicken production to 5.36 billion lbs and a slight 1% increase in mature chicken production to 68 million lbs. Turkey production slightly declined by 1% to 551 million lbs, whereas duck production experienced a 6% increase to 17.9 million lbs.

The average weight of young chickens slaughtered in January 2024 was 6.58 lbs per bird, a 1% increase from the previous year, while the average live weight for mature chickens decreased by 1% to 6.95 lbs per bird.

The Cattle on Feed report from NASS also provided insights into cattle inventory levels, which have shown a slight year-on-year increase to 11.8 million head. However, November saw a 7% decrease in the number of cattle placed in feedlots, totalling 1.70 million head, with the marketing of fed cattle slightly down from the previous year.

These figures from the USDA offer a snapshot of the current dynamics within the US meat production industry, reflecting shifts in consumer demand, production capacities, and market conditions.