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Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Closing Livestock Market Summary

Closing Comments 

Cash cattle trade wrapped up for the week after strong buying Thursday. The jump in the cash market and surge in futures trade was impressive at the end of the month, but begs the question if further support can redevelop and be sustained during May. Feedlot managers will enter next week as bullish as they have been over the last several months, which will likely lead to additional aggressive asking prices with little room for movement early in the week. According to the closing report, the national hog base is $0.75 higher compared with the Prior Day settlement ($51.00-$59.00, weighted average $56.21). The corn trade turned lower in light activity on Friday. May futures posted a 4-cent loss. The Dow Jones Index is 39 points lower with the Nasdaq up 2 points.
LIVE CATTLE
Live cattle futures surged higher near closing bell after being unable to draw significant interest during most of the trading session. Late-day trade pushed prices to triple-digit gains, $1.57 to $2.50 higher. June futures led the complex with a $2.50 per cwt rally, moving to $124.02 per cwt. The June contract will take over as front-month futures Monday morning. April futures expired at $138 per cwt. The overall aggressiveness of the market at the end of April is expected to carry over into early May, but the weekend break could change traders' attitudes. Beef cut-outs: higher, $1.00 higher (select, $207.68) to up 2.63 (choice, $221.78) with good demand and light offerings (58 loads of choice cuts, 31 loads of select cuts, five loads of trimmings, 36 loads of coarse grinds).
MONDAY'S CASH CATTLE CALL:
Steady. Following the sharply higher futures trade seen this week and higher cash trade which developed Thursday, activity is likely to remain sluggish early in the week. Monday will be reserved for showlist distribution and inventory taking as packers and feed yard managers focus on the overall amount of cattle sold through the last week of April.
FEEDER CATTLE
Feeder cattle futures closed sharply higher in light trade after trading mixed in a narrow range through much of the morning. Contracts moved higher in the last hour of trade with very little resistance, closing $2.27 to $4.35 higher. This solidified August through November feeder cattle futures above $150 per cwt as traders continue to focus on the potential for supply tightness and renewed market support through the summer. The strong open interest developing in both live and feeder cattle futures during the last several weeks may help draw additional interest into the complex within the next several weeks, although the aggressive upward momentum in the market is also creating concern that a market correction may develop within the near future. CME cash feeder index: 4/27: $141.38, up $0.52.
LEAN HOGS
Lean hog futures turned higher Friday, despite sluggish early trade, closing up $0.07 to $1.27. Strong end-of-session buyer support redeveloped in nearby contracts as triple-digit gains were seen in June through August futures. June contracts settled at $74 per cwt, matching the April 11 high resistance level, as traders focused on the potential for follow-through buying to develop through early May. The expectation is that the recent rally and current price levels will spark follow-through commercial interest in nearby and deferred contracts. Carcass values are firmly higher. Double-digit losses in ribs and bellies were countered by aggressive gains in butts and hams and narrow gains in other primals. Pork cut-out: $74.46 up $0.81. CME cash lean index for 4/26: $59.71, down $0.12. DTN Projected lean index for 4/27: $59.64, down $0.07.
MONDAY'S CASH HOG CALL
Steady to $1 higher. Continued firmness in the market is expected to spillover into early May with follow-through buying likely to develop Monday morning. Packers should start out with most bids steady to firm, although the full range of bids are likely to be steady to $1 higher. Slaughter is expected to be 442,000 head Monday.

Friday Midday Livestock Market Update

GENERAL COMMENTS: 
Strong buyer support has started to develop at midday as buyers are stepping back into the market after remaining incredibly absent for most of the morning. The lack of interest Friday morning has kept traders on the sidelines in sluggish trade, but a flurry of activity may be seen in the last hour of trade Friday. Corn prices are lower in light trade. May corn futures are 4 cents lower. Stock markets are mixed in light trade. The Dow Jones is 27 points lower while Nasdaq is up 2 points.
LIVE CATTLE:
Live cattle futures have developed late-day buyer activity on the last trading session of April with April futures posting a $2.50 per cwt rally trading at $138.10 per cwt. This has sparked additional support into other nearby contracts following what had previously been lackluster interest in the rest of the complex. June futures are trading $1.30 per cwt higher with traders nearing $123 per cwt in light to moderate support. Sharp fundamental and technical support at the end of the month is expected to springboard trade activity into renewed buyer activity early next week with a fresh month on the books, as traders move back into the market. Cash cattle trade appears to be done for the week following active trade which developed Thursday afternoon. Cattle still left on show lists are priced at $220 and higher dressed basis and $140 live basis. Beef cut-outs at midday are higher, $1.24 higher (select) and up $1.85 per cwt (choice) with moderate movement of 71 total loads reported (24 loads of choice cuts, 16 loads of select cuts, 5 loads of trimmings, 26 loads of ground beef).
FEEDER CATTLE:
Firm buyer support is quickly moving into feeder cattle futures at midday. Although the support is contained within a narrow range, the overall support is growing through the last couple of hours Friday. August contracts continue to lead the market higher with a $1.60 per cwt rally with the focus on strong cash market support in the cattle market as well as underlying fundamental and technical support developing through the entire complex through the waning hours of April trade.
LEAN HOGS:
Firm buyer support has quickly stepped back into the lean hog futures complex midday with June through August contracts regaining buyer support and holding gains of 90 cents to $1 per cwt as follow through trade interest has moved back into the market. The ability to hold current support and push prices above $73 per cwt in monthly charts is expected to create additional firm support as traders move into the month of May. Deferred contracts remain mixed in a narrow trading range, although the lack of direction seems focused on the overall lack of volume in deferred contracts more than any other factor. Cash prices are lower on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price fell $0.44 at $55.02 per cwt with the range from $51.00 to $56.00 on 5,126 head reported sold. Cash prices are lower on the Iowa Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price fell $0.61 at $55.36 per cwt with the range from $51.00 to $56.00 on 1,980 head reported sold. The National Pork Plant Report reported 154 loads selling with prices added $0.02 per cwt. Lean hog index for 4/25 is at $59.93 down $0.23 with a projected two-day index of $59.71 down $0.22.

Friday Morning Livestock Market Summary

GENERAL COMMENTS:
Cattle buyers aggressively chased ready steers and heifers on Thursday like they were on the endangered species list. Live spending reached as high as $138 to $140 with dressed deals as tall as $217 to $219. Trade volume was quite active in most areas, and we suspect that most business is done for the week. Whatever remains on showlists are probably picked around $140 in the South and $220 plus in the North. Live and feeder futures seem staged to open solidly higher, supported by residual buying interest and new feedlot premiums.
Expect the cash hog trade to resume Friday with bids steady to $1 lower. With the cost of live inventory expanding this week at a faster rate than carcass value, pork processing margins have certainly narrowed. Lean futures should open with a firm undertone, helped by follow-through buying and spillover psychology from the runaway cattle complex.

BULL SIDEBEAR SIDE
1)The cash cattle market exploded higher with live sales marked as high as $138 to $140, as much as $6 to $8 higher than last week. Clearly, feedlot managers continue to enjoy plentiful leverage in terms of tight fed supplies.1)The beef carcass value may be fighting a losing battle in terms of keeping up with the exploding cost of slaughter cattle. Processing margins will slump significantly lower this week, perhaps eventually forcing packers to regain country leverage by slashing late-spring chain speed.
2)
Net beef export sales last week totaled 21,200 metric tons, up 8% from the previous week and 30% from the prior four-week average. Increases were reported for Japan (6,700 MT, including decreases of 3,700 MT), South Korea (4,100 MT, including decreases of 200 MT), Mexico (3,800 MT, including decreases of 100 MT), Chile (1,200 MT), and Taiwan (1,200 MT).
2)The early buzz among private analysts is that April placement will also be eventually confirmed to be as much as 5% to 10% greater than 2016.
3)Actual pork exports last week totaled 20,500 MT, up 17% from the previous week.3)Net pork export sales last week cooled to 23,000 metric tons, down 37% from the previous week and 11% from the prior four-week average.
4)Cash hogs continued to climb higher on Thursday. This week's positive pattern seems quite promising in terms of turning the seasonal corner toward more constructive fundamentals through midsummer.4)Despite this week's progress in lean hog futures, June futures are still trading below the low point of trading over the most recent five-year average.
OTHER MARKET SENSITIVE NEWS 
CATTLE:(foodmarket.com)-- Circular themes this week are largely centered around the "Get Grilling" theme, with features for ribs, burgers, and barbeques placed strategically in flyers. Buns, ketchup, cheese, and chips can all be found clustered among grill-centric ad items, appealing to consumer excitement for summer -- despite being a month outside of the unofficial Memorial Day kickoff.
Looking at ground beef, 80% lean is featured at $3.10 per lb. on average, which is a multi-year low for the period. Following the record highs seen in 2015 and the first part of 2016, ground beef is positioned to make a huge comeback in 2017 as consumers enjoy lower prices on the beloved burger.
The beef complex in general is lower than a year ago, with the weekly retail beef feature index currently at $5.77 per lb., nearly at 2014 levels. Steaks average $7.41 per lb., compared to $7.66 per lb. a year ago. Roasts, certainly nearing the end of peak usage as the weather warms up, are currently down nearly 10% from a year ago.
Looking at pork, ribs average $2.78 per lb., nearly on par with year ago levels. Back ribs average about 10 cents higher than year ago at $3.68, while spareribs run about $2.25, down 53 cents per lb. from this week last year. Boneless center-cut pork chops average $2.97 per lb., down 16% from a year ago. Shoulder roasts, ideal for pulled pork, are on feature for $1.59 per lb. on average, down from $2.16 last year.
Ground beef as well as numerous pork items are in solid position to grab consumer dollars away from the chicken segment. Boneless skinless chicken breasts average $4.32 per lb. this week, up from year ago levels. Tenders run $5.10 per lb. on average, up over $1 per lb. from last year. The dark meat complex, however, is poised to lure shoppers with feature prices near the $1 mark for leg quarters, and under $2 for drumsticks and thighs.
HOGS: (Butterfield Advocate)-- Windom's new Prime Pork plant is buzzing with excitement this week as the staff gets set to process hogs. "We will start operations on the processing floor on Wednesday," said Wayne Kies, chief operating officer for Prime Pork. "The slaughter operation will start Monday."
This plant's start-up is no doubt being watched closely by processors around the country. To say it is a state-of-the-art operation may be an understatement. It is widely known as the most highly-technical pork processing plant in the country. However, right now Kies says the focus is squarely on the plant's 130 employees. By mid-July, Kies hopes to have 350 employees, including management and maintenance staff. That number is up by 25 to 50 workers from the original plan.
It will be a slow ramp-up to full production at Prime Pork. On Monday, the plant had 130 workers on site for the first day of orientation. The following day, the plant's owner, Glen Taylor, was on hand to speak to the employees. Kies said another 60 workers will be added next week and 60 more the following week. "We are in the process of hiring and going through applications right now," Kies said. The plant will open with one shift operating five days per week. In the early going, there will be lots of training time, particularly in connection with automation. "We will start out with one truck (bringing hogs to the plant) and build up to 33 trailers per day," Kies said. "We will continue to ramp up and if all goes well we could get to maximum capacity by mid-July, which is 6,000 head per day." Kies said pork products will be shipped out of the plant within 24 to 48 hours of when hogs arrive. At this point, he estimates that up to 33 trucks will leave the facility with pork products each day. He added that product sales have gone extremely well. All of the pork scheduled for production has already been sold.
Friday's plant opening marks the end of a long and winding road to production. There was a time when Prime Pork officials were saying that the plant could open in the fall of 2016. To be fair, that initial estimate occurred in early 2016, not long after Taylor had purchased the former PM Beef processing plant. Company officials had barely started retrofitting the plant. Eventually, the opening date was pushed back to early-January and then rescheduled once again. The big keys to the delay had to do with automation and facility preparation. "We were dealing with some issues in an older building that we didn't know were there," Kies said. "We wanted to fix it and rectify the issues and do it correctly. That was part of the reason we were delayed. "We also had delays in getting part of the automation equipment here." What's more, the plan has been adjusted since the project began. "We increased the amount of automation we are doing in the facility from what we had planned," Kies said. "We went with a fully automated plant. We will be one of the most automated facilities in the U.S., according to one of our vendors. This is one of Mr. Taylor's passions, to ensure that automation is integrated into his facilities. "So there has been a huge change from where we thought we would be to where we ended up."
One thing that has not changed is Prime Pork's focus on quality. The plan is to bring in high quality Duroc pork from Prime Pork's farms, or producers that follow the company's requirements related to things like animal health care and quality feed. The plant's footprint has grown from 300,000 square feet, at the time of Taylor's purchase, to 329,000 square feet. However, Kies pointed out that a chunk of the building was torn down and rebuilt.
Taylor likely stressed the value of all employees during his comments to workers on Tuesday. That is something he has stressed from the outset. And, it is something that is often repeated by Kies and other Prime Pork leaders. "The thought process is about the 350 team members we employ," Kies said. "That is our compass and our goal. "We try to keep the 350 team members we employ in a facility that is comfortable and ensure that they are able to work safely and correctly. That is one of our main points of emphasis." Kies said many Prime Pork workers are former PM Beef employees who did not leave the area after the PM plant closed in December 2015. They arrived to find that the plant's interior is vastly improved. "Almost everything has been replaced here except for the external walls," Kies said. "As far as electrical, plumbing, the boilers, refrigeration room and major components, all have been rebuilt,or are brand new." A few community residents have seen the interior of the plant. Kies said the reaction was positive. "The thing people are most amazed about when they come through the facility is how clean and new this older building appears to be inside," Kies said. During his address to the Windom Area Chamber of Commerce in October, Taylor said he expected the Prime Pork plant cost to hit $75 million once remodeling costs were figured in. Kies said Monday that Taylor's estimate is "real close" to being right on target. "Glen regularly visits the facility and he is ready to get the operation up and running," Kies said. "He pushes the philosophy of taking care of our team and that we are all one. We are all pushing together to achieve the same goal." That goal is to produce the highest quality Duroc pork on the market-- and to do it the right way.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Midday Livestock Market Summary

GENERAL COMMENTS: 
Aggressive buyer support has flooded into live cattle futures with limit gains developing in both live cattle and feeder cattle markets. With April live cattle futures expiring Thursday, limitless trade activity has pushed markets $4.67 per cwt at midday. Lean hog futures have also posted strong triple-digit gains. Corn prices are mixed to higher in light trade. May corn futures are 2 cents higher. Stock markets are higher in light trade. The Dow Jones is 22 points higher while Nasdaq is up 23 points.
LIVE CATTLE:
Live cattle futures have rallied sharply higher with limit gains quickly exploding into the market. April live cattle futures expire at noon Thursday, which is creating limitless trade in front month futures, allowing contracts to move futures to post $4.67 per cwt gains. June through October contracts are locked in limit highs of $3 per cwt gains as traders are looking for strong market support through the end of the month. Cash cattle activity has become light to moderate at midday given the strength in the futures trade through the morning. Live business in the South is seen from $135 to $137, which is generally $4 to $6 per cwt higher that last week's price levels. Prices in the North are listed around $215 per cwt. This is on average $6 to $7 per cwt higher than last week's level. Asking prices are now increasing on cattle still left on show lists, but the tone of the market could be set. It is likely that the bulk of remaining business may be delayed until Friday. Asking prices on remaining cattle are seen at $220 dressed basis and $137 to $138 live basis. Beef cut-outs at midday are higher, $1.30 higher (select) and up $0.12 per cwt (choice) with moderate movement of 71 total loads reported (25 loads of choice cuts, 16 loads of select cuts, 20 loads of trimmings, 9 loads of ground beef).
FEEDER CATTLE:
Feeder cattle futures have surged to limit higher gains in all but front month April contracts. The aggressive move higher comes following the lackluster early market interest seen Thursday which gave way to aggressive cash market trade in the live cattle markets. A close at these price levels would create expanded trading limits in the feeder cattle markets and would add to the already volatile cattle markets through the end of the month.
LEAN HOGS:
Strong triple-digit gains have flooded into lean hog futures Thursday with nearby support gaining momentum as May contracts remain lightly traded due to the light open interest but holding prices at $67 per cwt. The June contract remains the main focus at $73 per cwt with trade $2.55 per cwt higher and gaining additional buyer support through the end of the week. This is drawing additional trade activity through the rest of the complex. Cash prices are higher on the Iowa Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price added $0.55 at $55.38 per cwt with the range from $50.00 to $57.00 on 2,710 head reported sold. The National Pork Plant Report reported 155 loads selling with prices added $0.55 per cwt. Lean hog index for 4/25 is at $59.93 down $0.23 with a projected two-day index of $59.71 down $0.22.

Thursday Morning Livestock Market Summary

GENERAL COMMENTS:


Cattle buying interest should continue to improve Thursday. Opening cash bids should be around $128 to $130 on the South and $212 to $213 in the North. Yet as bullish-minded feedlot managers dig in with asking prices around $134 to $135 in the South and $215 to $218 in the North, significant trade volume could be delayed until Friday. Expect live and feeder futures to open on a firm basis, boosted further by spillover buying, technically-promising charts and ideas of further cash progress.
It would appear that the country offering of market ready hogs is getting a bit snugger (though slaughter numbers clearly remain quite generous). We may still be several weeks away from a more significant drop (say, under 2.5 million by mid to late May). Saturday's kill is currently to be around 105,000 head. While such an effort will be half the size of last week, the weekly slaughter should still total well over 2.3 million. Lean futures seem geared to open moderately lower, pressured by follow-through selling and uncertain pork demand.

BULL SIDE BEAR SIDE
1) Completely erasing Monday's post-report sell-off, cattle futures blasted back into the passing lane at midweek with bulls setting new contract highs in nearly every corner. 1) Total live cattle open interest as of Tuesday was record large and 5,400 above a week ago, elevating longer-term market vulnerability when the cash market falters. In addition, a historically large index roll looms in early May.
2)
Out-front boxed beef sales (i.e., with delivery of 22 days or more) surged to 1,480 loads last week, the most aggressive round of advanced business seen since late December 2010.
2) For the week ending April 22, U.S. hatcheries set 222 million eggs in incubators, up 2% from a year ago. At the same time, chicks placed in the United States totaled 182 million chicks, up 2% from 2016.
3) While the jury still remains out, the cash hog trade seems to be rolling steadily higher. Note that the national negotiated base gained nearly a buck on Wednesday. 3) Lacking any follow-through from Tuesday's rally, lean hog futures quickly surrendered a good deal of price territory Wednesday, reinforcing multiple levels of overhead chart resistance.
4) Though bellies may have several more weeks of potential softness, the bacon market should soon shift into a strong uptrend through July, especially given such low levels in cold storage. 4) For the week ending April 22, Iowa barrows and gilts averaged 284.9 pounds, 1.1 lbs bigger than the prior week and .9 lbs heavier than 2016.



OTHER MARKET SENSITIVE NEWS


CATTLE:(PRNewswire) -- Greenwood Village, CO: Perky Jerky, a leading next generation premium meat snacks brand, is launching a new line of 100 percent grass-fed beef sticks in the same bold flavors that make the brand's jerky offerings a favorite amongst athletes, outdoor lifestyle enthusiasts and millennials alike. As the meat snack category continues to grow in popularity, Perky Jerky has entered the market with a unique product offering. Filling the void for all-natural meat stick products, Perky Jerky now offers a premium option for consumers that also successfully delivers on taste.
The Perky Jerky stick line is the perfect on-the-go snack for millennials -- an important demographic that currently serves as the national driver behind snack sales. Studies have shown that 76 percent of meat snack purchases are made by millennials, who prefer to eat small meals or snacks throughout the day. As millennial consumers are drawn to snacks containing simple, clean ingredients, Perky Jerky's products align perfectly as a snack option that doesn't just taste better, but is actually better for you. Made from 100 percent grass-fed beef, Perky Jerky's sticks are 59 percent lower in fat and 36 percent lower in sodium than other options on the market.

"Consumers look for convenient snacks that will fuel their bodies throughout the day without compromising their health," said Brian Levin, CEO and Founder of Perky Jerky. "Our new 100 percent grass-fed beef stick product line is all about bringing consumers a product that they can feel confident about eating and also feel good about giving their children to eat. We're excited to offer beef sticks in our signature jerky flavors with clean ingredient lists, providing customers with a new and convenient meat stick in a class of its own.

Since 2009, Levin has positioned Perky Jerky as an upscale product that has a taste and texture that's delightfully unexpected. With a 36 percent increase in consumption of the brand's traditional beef and turkey jerky options over the past year, the beef sticks launch is expected to draw incremental consumers to this segment as a healthier option for consumers on the go. With 94 percent of Americans choosing to snack at least once a day and 33 percent reaching for healthier snacks, Perky Jerky has gained a loyal fan base because of the practicality of protein-packed snacks.

"We saw an opportunity to create grass-fed beef sticks that can pack in bold flavor and still deliver on healthful attributes," said Levin. "We're helping evolve the stick form so they're perceived in a more positive light."

Perky Jerky's 100-percent grass-fed beef sticks are available in the following flavors: More than Just Original, Tasty Teriyaki, Brewmaster's Pale Ale and Jammin' Jamaican. The sticks are available for purchase now at perkyjerky.com and Amazon, with distribution at additional retailers starting this month for $1.99 -- $2.29 per stick.

HOGS: (thepigsite.com) -- Calling him "very good for America's farmers and ranchers," the National Pork Producers Council congratulated former Georgia Governor George "Sonny" Perdue on his confirmation by the US Senate as the new Secretary of Agriculture.

"Sonny Perdue is the kind of leader the pork industry, and the entire livestock industry, needs at the US Department of Agriculture," said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois. "He'll be very good for America's farmers and ranchers." At his 23 March confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Mr Perdue pledged to be a "tenacious" advocate for agriculture.

"Agriculture needs a strong advocate," he told the committee. He also vowed to work with the administration "to establish a strong trade policy that benefits agriculture" and to identify unintended consequences of regulations and address them "before they create challenges for agriculture."
A veterinarian and agri-businessman who grew up on a dairy and row crop farm in central Georgia, Mr Perdue served as the state's governor from 2003 to 2011. Prior to that, he was in the Georgia Senate for 10 years.

"Secretary Perdue knows agriculture; I think he'll do well as Agriculture Secretary," Mr Maschhoff said. "Also, he takes over at a critical time for agriculture, with work starting on a new farm bill and possibly on free trade agreements that would open new markets to US pork and other agricultural products.

"NPPC and America's pork producers look forward to working with Secretary Perdue."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Closing Livestock Market Summary

Closing Comments 

The cash cattle trade was generally quiet through Wednesday with a few dressed sales reported in parts of the North (i.e., $212-$213, $4-$5 higher than last week's weighted average basis Nebraska). Buying interest certainly seemed alive and well, just not good enough to significantly gel with higher asking prices. According to the closing report, the national hog base is .82 higher ($49.00-56.00, weighted average $54.46). Corn quickly surrendered much of Tuesday's rally, closing 5-6 cents lower thanks to long liquidation and profit-taking. The stock market closed lower with the Dow off 21 points and the Nasdaq near unchanged.
LIVE CATTLE
Live contracts bolted sharply higher as bullish cash expectations moved back toward the center of the trade's radar. Most issues settled 200 to 272 higher with June through December setting new contract highs. Beef cut-outs: mixed, up .17 (choice, $219.18) to off .55 (select, $205.72) with light to moderate demand and offerings (63 loads of choice cuts, 34 loads of select cuts, 11 loads of trimmings, 27 loads of coarse grinds).
THURSDAY'S CASH CATTLE CALL:
Steady to $2 higher. Look for cattle buying activity to develop on Thursday and/or Friday as short-bought packer move to cover near-term slaughter needs.
FEEDER CATTLE
Feeder bulls roared back to town, spiking futures as much as 112 to 450 points higher. Feedlot profits continue to stoke stronger and stronger commercial buying interest. By the time the bullish dust had settled, all but spot May had set new contract highs. CME cash feeder index: 04/25: 139.44, up .13.
LEAN HOGS
Lean futures failed to find any follow-through buying energy Wednesday, even as bulls hoped to build on Tuesday's promising rally. At the end of the trading session, contracts closed mostly 32 to 110 lower. Summer contracts lost ground to both spot May and the far deferreds. Besides profit-taking and long liquidation, lean hogs seemed to be pressured by a reassertion of cattle/hog spreading interest. Carcass value closed moderately lower, pressured by fresh cuts and hams. Pork cut-out: $73.47, off .35. CME cash lean index for 04/24: 60.16, off .33 (DTN Projected lean index for 04/25: 59.93, off .23).
THURSDAY'S CASH HOG CALL
Steady to $1 higher. Hog buyers should start work in the morning with steady/firm bids.

Wednesday Midday Livestock Market Summary

GENERAL COMMENTS: 
New contract highs have been set in live cattle and feeder cattle contracts as sharp triple-digit gains are holding Wednesday morning. This support has draw commercial and investment buyer support back into the market. Lean hog trade remains mixed within a narrow range with light activity limiting overall market movement through the complex. Corn prices are mixed to lower in light trade. May corn futures are 1 cent lower. Stock markets are higher in light trade. The Dow Jones is 55 points higher while Nasdaq is up 7 points.
LIVE CATTLE:
Traders in the live cattle complex are trying to keep up with the aggressive upward movement seen in feeder cattle markets with triple-digit gains quickly and steadily moving the market higher. This has helped traders to keep focused on seasonal support and additional buyer activity through the complex. Additional interest is likely to move into the complex through the end of the week as cash markets develop and additional contract highs are set. Cash cattle sales on the Fed Cattle Exchange Auction posted a total of 5,448 head listed for sale (40 Holstein) 1,945 head sold.
1-9 Day Delivery: 353 head, weighted average price $131.68
1-17 Day Delivery: 158 head, weighted average price $129.89
17-30 Day Delivery: 1,394 head, weighted average price $125.42 Holstein 1-17 Day Delivery: 40 head, weighted average price $93.50. This is about $3 higher than last weeks weighted average. Feedlot trade remains undeveloped with bids quiet and asking prices hard to pin down in most areas at this point. Beef cut-outs at midday are mixed, $0.24 lower (select) and up $0.42 per cwt (choice) with moderate movement of 82 total loads reported (37 loads of choice cuts, 21 loads of select cuts, 6 loads of trimmings, 18 loads of ground beef).
FEEDER CATTLE:
Gains in feeder cattle futures are reaching $3 per cwt in late summer contracts with the focus on long term supply tightness a possibility in both live cattle and feeder cattle markets. Commercial buyer interest continues to flood into the market during the last week of April with no sign of this activity slowing which may create some uncertainty during early May. Summer contracts are holding a $4 to $5 per cwt premium on spring contracts, but little additional other market shifts are seen through the complex which is drawing wide attention to the market at this point.
LEAN HOGS:
Lean hog futures have pulled back from narrow gains seen during most of the morning as traders are now focusing on the pressure seen in morning cash hog markets and the pullback in cutout reports. This latest softness in lean hog futures is not expected to create any significant damage to the overall movement in the lean hog futures market as traders continue to draw buyer support to the market with traders through the end of the week with buyers look for long term seasonal support. Cash prices are lower at midday on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price fell $0.43 at $53.21 per cwt with the range from $49.00 to $54.00 on 5,459 head reported sold. Cash prices are unreported due to confidentiality on the Iowa Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The National Pork Plant Report reported 206 loads selling with prices fell $0.51 per cwt. Lean hog index for 4/24 is at $60.16 down $0.33 with a projected two-day index of $59.93 down $0.23.

Wednesday Morning Livestock Market Update

GENERAL COMMENTS:


Preliminary buying interest could start to surface in part of feedlot country at midweek. Yet significant trade volume may be delayed until Thursday or Friday. Market watchers will be focusing on Wednesday's FCE. Our guess is that showlists will be initially priced around $134 to $135 in the South and $15 plus in the North. Live and feeder futures should open moderately higher, supported by residual buying interest and cash premiums.

Hog buyers seem set to resume business at midweek with steady/firm bids. Lean futures are likely to open higher thanks to follow-through buying and more bottom-building interest.

BULL SIDE BEAR SIDE
1) Live and feeder futures quickly recovered on Tuesday, erasing much of Monday's crash and placing bullish psychology and cash expectations back in the saddle. 1) While Tuesday's recovery in cattle futures was encouraging, the deferred live months failed to close the early-week gaps and actively-traded June settled short of Monday's high.
2)
Beef cutouts closed solidly higher Tuesday with box movement once again described as "moderate to fairly good." The spring calendar remains inviting to seasonal strong beef demand for at least another two to four weeks.
2) Furthermore, deferred live cattle contracts have failed to keep pace with gains in the spot month and skepticism regarding sustained futures strength has escalated amid prospects for renewed cash weakness, looming larger fed cattle supplies and the impending large index roll.
3) Lean hog contracts rocketed higher Tuesday with summer charts now trying hard to make a seasonal bottom. Despite expectations of large hog supplies in the months ahead, firmer cash hog trade along with renewed prospects of strong exports in the coming months supported the market. 3) Tuesday's rally in hog futures was an exciting change of pace, but the move was inconclusive at best. The trend in the market remains negative. The June contract is still trading below the low point of trading over the most recent five-year average and the June/August spread is modestly wider than normal.
4) The fact that the cash hog market so far this week seems to be slowly firming may suggest packers sense a tightening of numbers in the weeks ahead. 4) The pork carcass value retreated further on Tuesday, checked by softer demand for bellies and loins.




OTHER MARKET SENSITIVE NEWS


CATTLE:(USA WEDNESDAY) -- The expansion of its all-day breakfast menu and a Big Mac promotional campaign helped lift McDonald's to better-than-expected revenue and profit in the first quarter.

The fast-food chain edged expectations as it faces pressure to bolster its business amid stiff competition from fast-casual rivals and lower grocery costs.

Aiming for a turnaround, sales at U.S. restaurants open at least a year rose 1.7% in the first quarter. Globally, comparable sales rose 4%.

"Our efforts to build a better McDonald's are yielding meaningful results with continued positive momentum and a strong start to 2017 that includes positive comparable sales across all segments, higher global guest counts and enhanced profitability," McD's CEO Steve Easterbrook said Tuesday in a statement.
"There's a sense of urgency across the business as we take actions to retain existing customers, regain lapsed customers and convert casual customers to committed customers."

The company's recent decision to add more products to its all-day breakfast menu is paying dividends. It also attributed the quarter's momentum in part to new Big Mac products and beverage discounts.

McDonald's stock rose 2.4% in pre-market trading Tuesday to $137.48.

The company recorded revenue of $5.68 billion for the quarter, beating S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates of $5.53 billion. That was down 3.9% from a year earlier, but McDonald's said the decline was largely attributable to the company's effort to turn certain company-owned locations into franchises.

McDonald's posted net income of $1.21 billion, up 8% and beating S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates of $1.11 billion.

HOGS: (hoosieragWednesday.com) -- The key U.S. Senator blocking a bilateral trade deal with Taiwan for years is dropping his long-held insistence Taiwan first end its ban on ractopamine-treated U.S. pork, before talks can begin. For years, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley went to bat for the pork industry on the meat-leanness additive, ractopamine. He urged the Bush and Obama Administrations not to reward Taiwan with free trade negotiations if it didn't first end its ban on U.S. pork treated with the additive. But that was before the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

"Maybe sometimes if you go back before the TPP, maybe I said it ought to be a precondition, but then we already have agreements with some of these countries and I think if you're going to change those agreements that there can't be preexisting conditions in order to have good faith negotiations," Grassley said.

There's no doubt Taiwan will still have to end its pork ban in a U.S. trade deal, but Grassley abandoning his long-held position may now hasten such a deal and get the U.S. industry the relief it wants. But National Pork Producers Council Spokesman Dave Warner says NPPC disagrees with the new-approach.

"And it doesn't make any sense to enter negotiations when they're not going to science on these issues," Warner said. "Once they agree to do that then we start the talks."
But Warner says the bottom line is that non-tariff sanitary trade barriers must end, even if done as part of a trade deal with other countries.

"We're going to eliminate those non science-based issues in those other countries. The United States abides by science, and we want our trading partners to do the same."

And there are lots of such restrictions, from China's US beef ban, now supposed to be coming off, to Europe's effective ban on many U.S. GMO crops.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday Closing Livestock Market Summary

Closing Comments 

Cattle buyers and sellers spent more time Tuesday focused on the board than each other. Neither bids nor asking prices were well defined with many simply waiting for the dust to settle following Monday's tumble in futures. According to the closing report, the national hog base is $0.22 higher ($49.00-$55.00, weighted average $53.67). Corn futures settled 5-6 cents higher, boosted by cool and wet forecasts over large portions of the Corn Belt and threats of planting delays. The stock extended its earnings-based rally Tuesday with the Dow up 200 points and the Nasdaq better by 41.
LIVE CATTLE
Live futures reclaimed a good deal of ground lost on Monday, closing 82 to 112 higher. The recovery was tied to short-covering, signs of seasonal beef demand, and the large status of feedlot premiums. Beef cut-outs: significantly higher, up $0.34 (choice, $219.01) to $1.98 (select, $206.27) with moderate-to-good demand and moderate-to-heavy offerings (62 loads of choice cuts, 32 loads of select cuts, 22 loads of trimmings, 25 loads of coarse grinds).
WEDNESDAY'S CASH CATTLE CALL:
Steady to $2 higher. We could start to see a few preliminary bids at midweek. Remember, it's been a week since the cash trade was significantly tested.
FEEDER CATTLE
Feeder issues closed moderately higher, up 22 to 97. This market lost a step or two on live counterparts, perhaps chastened a bit but the substantial jump in the corn market. CME cash feeder index: 04/24: $139.31 off $0.10.
LEAN HOGS
Hog futures settled sharply higher, up 82 to 245, supported by ideas that both supply and demand realities were set to turn price friendly over the next 30-60 days. Summer contracts closed back above moving average highs. Although the board faces multiple layers of overhead resistance, Friday's lows definitely have the potential of representing spike bottoms. The carcass value continued to pull lower Tuesday, pressured by softer demand for bellies and loins. Pork cut-out: $73.82, off $0.67. CME cash lean index for 04/21: $60.49, off $0.61 (DTN Projected lean index for 04/24: $60.16, off $0.33).
WEDNESDAY'S CASH HOG CALL
Steady to $1 higher. Ready numbers do seem to be slowly tightening, a fact that could lend midweek cash a firmer undertone.

Nutrition is complex, but feeding mineral doesn’t have to be

What’s the most important part of your mineral program? It may not be the brand or the formulation – but rather how you manage it.
The perfect mineral supplement probably does not exist, albeit the benefit of a good mineral program is well established, even if not fully understood.
Mineral nutrition can be a complex subject, and this complexity may be used as a sales tool to position product while overlooking other aspects of a program.
One topic, however, that’s grossly underestimated or underappreciated is mineral feeding management – especially in free-choice programs for grazing cattle.

Compromised mineral programs

The best-formulated mineral isn’t worth the bag it’s packed in if it isn’t consumed or managed correctly. It’s probably safe to assume a large percentage of mineral programs are compromised to some degree because of poor management or improper feeding.
This is unfortunate because considerable dollars can be invested in a mineral program, and if it’s not managed, it’s simply money wasted.
Some of the compromising factors in free-choice feeding systems include but aren’t limited to:
  • Improper placement of minerals that may limit or give excess access to cattle
  • Not having enough feeders for the number of animals
  • Letting mineral supplement run out
  • Not controlling waste due to weather
  • Overdiluting minerals with salt or other ingredients

Intake variation

Variable intake of free-choice mineral is a reality and a challenge we should work to lessen. This variation can be due to environmental reasons such as diet, season, pasture conditions (forage availability), soil nutrients and stage of production, just to name a few.
Then there’s the individual animal variation – which is much harder to predict. There are a lot of studies that show how important mineral nutrition is and what the consequences of deficiency are, but few define individual animal variation.
When we feed a pen of cattle or a pasture of cows, we are really feeding for the average (average requirement, average intake, etc.). Most free-choice minerals are formulated for an average intake of 2 to 4 ounces per animal per day.
However, some studies show intake levels from zero ounces to over half a pound of daily intake. These highs and lows of intake may impact the efficiency and absorption of minerals. Additionally, individual animal variation could suggest some cattle are eating too much and others too little. I’ve heard it said by nutritionists and ranchers alike: “Half the cows are eating all the mineral.”
A study conducted at Montana State University addressed this topic. It compared the frequency of visits to a loose dry mineral, a low-moisture block mineral (molasses-based mineral tub) and salt. Overall, a much higher percentage of cattle consumed the low-moisture block mineral versus the dry loose form.
Additionally, some cattle did not eat any mineral or salt during the study period.

Getting consistency

Again, it’s impossible to have a “perfect” program, but with some simple commonsense management, most programs can be improved. Here are some tips:
1. Keep it simple. Feed companies have formulated thousands of mineral formulas and yet, at my company, roughly 20 percent make up 80 percent of the sales. Customization is nice but not always necessary and not always cost-effective.
Chances are your supplier has a good formulation in stock that meets most all requirements and will work just fine when fed properly. Don’t get overly set on a certain percentage of phosphorus, salt or other nutrient until you first understand the intake.
Cattle eat ounces and grams, not percentages. Sometimes customization is only used as a sales pitch or to justify an already known need.
2. Follow feeding directions on the tag. No matter the form of mineral, loose dry, block or tub, provide the proper number of feeding locations and amount placed. A common ratio suggested is one feeding station for every 20 to 30 head of animals.
This can vary based on the size of pasture or degree of confinement, but just like bunk space in a feedyard, the number of mineral feeding stations will affect how well, and by how many animals, mineral gets consumed. A common error that occurs is when only one mineral feeder or one tub is placed in front of 50 or more cows.
Location of the mineral is important, too. Placing it near watering or loafing areas generally gets cattle to consume more, and moving it away from said areas can reduce intake.
3. Consider mineral form and palatability. Most mineral fed to cattle is fed in a loose form. Loose minerals offer flexibility in formulation and are relatively easy to manufacture. Other forms, like small pressed blocks, offer convenience in placement, and tub products are gaining in popularity for a variety of reasons such as palatability, weatherability, pasture management, etc.
All forms have a place and can be effective. Some may fit better than others, especially when it comes to palatability or when dealing with situations where mineral intake (usually a lack of) is a concern.
For example, molasses-based block/tub supplements may work better in areas where naturally occurring salt or sodium is high in water or grass. Cattle may not eat loose mineral well under these conditions but may consume a tub product more readily.
Also, if a protein supplement is being fed, consider the mineral fortification of it, too. Often, when more than one free-choice supplement is being offered, intake on one of the two usually suffers. This is very true when feeding tubs; loose mineral consumption usually decreases.
So in this case, another mineral tub product may work better, or feed a tub that has a complete mineral fortification added as well.
4. Calculate intake regularly and watch the salt. Salt is technically a mineral and a required nutrient, but salt alone is not a mineral program. Trace mineral salt is not a complete mineral program either; it’s mostly salt (90 percent or more). Some minerals come with salt added, some don’t.
No matter how salt is being offered, it needs to be available. A very common practice is to mix additional salt with loose mineral at 1 to 1 or even higher to regulate intake. One precaution to take here is to be sure and know the overall intake so as to not dilute your program in half.
To summarize, mineral nutrition is complex, but feeding it doesn’t have to be. It can be simplified a great deal with good management. Don’t overanalyze a mineral program without considering management and how well and how many of your cows are consuming correctly. All feeding programs start with proper intake.  
Jon Albro

Tuesday Midday Livestock Market Summary

GENERAL COMMENTS: 
Follow through gains have developed through the livestock market with lean hog trade leading the complex higher. This move higher in the hog market is causing the most surprise in the market with the potential for limit higher price moves in nearby contracts. Cattle markets are moderate at best, but the firmness in the market is a positive change following the sharp early week pressure seen Monday. Corn prices are higher in light trade. May corn futures are 6 cents higher. Stock markets are higher in light trade. The Dow Jones is 236 points higher while Nasdaq is up 40 points.
LIVE CATTLE:
Firm buyer support is seen across live cattle futures with traders looking for additional buyer activity during the last couple hours Tuesday. Following sharp losses Monday, futures have regained market support and the potential to regain the momentum seen last week. Even though some uncertainty seems to be seen in boxed beef values over the last couple of days, there is still strong consumer support developing in the cattle market as traders are looking for traders to move back into both nearby and deferred contracts through the end of the month. Cash cattle markets remain inactive with bids and asking prices both undeveloped and poorly defined Tuesday morning. The expectation that most interest will be pushed into the second half of the week will likely move the emphasis to keep most packers on keeping bids from developing until Wednesday or later. At this point it is uncertain if feedlot managers are waiting to see if packers are willing to offer bids before establishing firm asking prices, or if they are focusing on the movement in the futures market before setting the asking price levels for the week. Beef cut-outs at midday are mixed, $2.13 higher (select) and down $0.20 per cwt (choice) with light movement of 68 total loads reported (35 loads of choice cuts, 9 loads of select cuts, 15 loads of trimmings, 9 loads of ground beef).
FEEDER CATTLE:
Feeder cattle futures have turned mixed at midday after holding firm gains through the entire morning. The inability to draw additional buyer support at midday may create some underlying concerns not only late in the day, but through the rest of the week. May futures are the only contract holding losses at the current time with all other futures trading 50 to 90 cents higher. This may spark additional buyer support through the rest of the complex.
LEAN HOGS:
Follow through buyer support has continued to quickly develop across all nearby lean hog futures as traders moved into the complex. The combination of higher cash hog trade in the morning report added to the increased support through the complex and is pushing nearby support to gains nearing $2 per cwt. The overall support may quickly not only pull prices off of support levels, but give commercial traders a springboard to move into the spring and summer markets which could build into additional market momentum. Cash prices are higher at midday on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price added $0.27 at $53.72 per cwt with the range from $49.00 to $54.50 on 5,459 head reported sold. Cash prices are higher on the Iowa Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price added $0.29 at $54.24 per cwt with the range from $49.00 to $54.50 on 2,920 head reported sold. The National Pork Plant Report reported 199 loads selling with prices fell $0.51 per cwt. Lean hog index for 4/21 is at $60.49 down $0.61 with a projected two-day index of $60.16 down $0.33.

Tuesday Morning Livestock Market Update

GENERAL COMMENTS:


Feedlot country should be generally quiet Tuesday as bids and asking prices remain poorly defined. Both sides are understandably wondering if Monday's board crash was just a one-trick pony or a significant sign regarding a market top. Live and feeder futures seem staged for a mixed opening tied to a combination of follow-through selling and short-covering.
Expect opening hog bids to be near steady. Packer margins are decent thanks to their ability through the month to lower the cost of live hogs at a faster rate than depreciating pork carcass value. But we may be close to reversing that margin play if processors are beginning to sense country supplies are becoming less generous. Lean futures should open moderately higher, supported by residual buying interest and short-covering.

BULL SIDE BEAR SIDE
1) Judging by new showlists distributed in feedlot country on Monday, fed supplies remain very manageable. Numbers are smaller in Texas, Kansas and Colorado, but larger in Nebraska. Overall, the late-month offering looks somewhat smaller than last week. 1) Cattle futures slammed significantly lower on Monday, reacting negatively to news of record March placement activity. If the basis continues to strengthen, feedlot managers could lose leverage in the cash trade and find it tough to stand with higher asking prices.
2)
Beef cutouts were quoted significantly higher Monday with early-week box demand described as "moderate to good."
2) Early estimates of this weekly cattle kill are around 601,500 head, 1.1% higher than last week and 2% above last year. Chain speed seems set to steadily accelerate over the next 60 to 90 days.
3) The cash hog trade held about steady on Monday without generating significant negotiated volume. This could be a sign that slaughter numbers are about to become more manageable. 3) The pork carcass value has stumbled out of the gate, quoted nearly a dollar lower on Monday thanks to softer demand for hams, bellies and ribs.
4) Frozen pork supplies as of March 31 totaled 555.05 million pounds, 3% below the prior month and 9.5% smaller than 2016. 4) This week's hog kill should once again be substantial, possibly totaling close to 2,312,000 head, as much as 1% more than last week and 8% greater than a year ago.




OTHER MARKET SENSITIVE NEWS


CATTLE:(Capital Press) -- The prospect of resuming U.S. exports to the $2.6 billion Chinese beef import market after a 13-year hiatus is cause for excitement, but no one's getting too giddy yet, U.S. industry observers say.

President Donald Trump championed the U.S. beef industry's interest in restoring access to China during his recent summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China officially lifted its U.S. beef import ban Last September, but no trade has yet taken place. The ban had been in place since December 2003, when the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalitis was discovered. "We're still unable to send beef into the Chinese market because we still face technical barriers to trade," said Kent Baucus, director of international trade and market access for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Resumption of Chinese beef imports was one of the action items identified during the Trump-Xi summit to be addressed during the next 100 days. U.S. and Chinese officials will be working on a path forward to resolve some of the technical barriers, including traceability, he said.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is always encouraged when market access for U.S. beef is discussed at the highest levels of government, said Joe Schuele, USMEF vice president of communications.

"The key will be for the two sides to come to agreement on the technical requirements for U.S. beef that will be eligible for export to China," he said.

Until those requirements and the percentage of U.S. beef that will be eligible are known, it's difficult to make any projections for beef exports to China, he said.

But there's a tremendous amount of opportunity, Baucus said.

China is home to one-fifth of the world's population and a middle class that's larger than the entire U.S. population. It has become a major importer of beef from other nations, he said.

Beef industry analysts are also weighing in on the prospects.

"The rapid growth in Chinese beef imports recently provides significant export market potential for U.S. beef," Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University livestock marketing specialist, said in this week's Cow/Calf Corner newsletter.

Chinese beef imports are projected at 950,000 metric tons, up 17 percent from 2016, and will exceed 12 percent of total global beef imports, he said.

Short-term prospects for the U.S. are likely to be modest, however, as U.S. beef establishes market share and official shipments displace unofficial shipments already reaching China through Hong Kong and Vietnam, he said.

Josh Maples, an ag economist at Mississippi State University, agrees a lot of work will be needed to establish market share.

While there is enormous potential for growth in Chinese beef consumption — forecast at 12.7 pounds per person in 2017, compared to 56.2 pounds in the U.S. — that growth is likely to be throttled by household income, he said in the Livestock Marketing Information Center's latest In The Cattle Markets report.

In addition, China's imports are mainly grass-fed beef and U.S. production is overwhelmingly grain-fed, he said.

They and other analysts also point out that traceability and the use of growth promotants are two of the issues that will have to be negotiated before trade starts.

HOGS: (newfoodmagazine.com) -- What happens when meat scientists get their hands on nearly 8,000 commercially raised pigs? They spend a year running dozens of tests and crunching numbers to arrive at research-backed management recommendations for pork producers.

"We had an opportunity to answer a lot of questions for the pork industry," says Dustin Boler, assistant professor in the animal sciences department at the University of Illinois.

Anna Dilger, an associate professor in the department, explains their approach. "The two main questions were, 'Can I measure quality in one part of the pig and predict quality in the rest of it?' And then, 'What is the true variability in pork quality out there and what's causing it?'"

The team, which also included U of I graduate students, USDA meat science researchers, and a representative from Smithfield Foods, recently published their findings in five articles.

In the first article, the team looked at correlations between loin quality and quality of the belly and ham from the same pig. In this case, quality was defined mostly by colour and tenderness. "Colour is what drives whether or not a consumer purchases a particular pork chop. It translates into what we think of as purchase intent. Colour is always number one," Boler says. "After that, we look at whether a product is tender. If it is tender enough, we think that will translate into a repeat purchase."

Unfortunately, the team found no correlation between loin quality and the quality of other cuts. "Just because a loin has desirable color and is tender doesn't mean the same animal is going to produce a good belly for bacon or a great ham for a special dinner. It didn't. Hypothesis one: scratched," Boler reports.

The remainder of the articles focused on understanding the variability in pork products -- how much variability exists, and where it comes from. For example, one of the articles focused on barrows (castrated male pigs) and gilts (young, prebred female pigs).

"We know barrows and gilts are different, but we wanted to know if they differ in how variable they are, or if one produces a more consistent product," Dilger explains. "You can deal with differences. It's harder to deal with variability."

Traits associated with fatness, such as marbling, were more variable in barrows than in gilts, but the sexes varied to approximately the same degree in terms of muscling and lean quality. Based on these results, Dilger says that barrows and gilts probably do not need to be managed differently unless producers are targeting a very specific branded product.

In another article, the researchers admit they had to channel their inner statistics geeks. They looked at every possible aspect of pork quality and tried to pinpoint the major sources of variability in the dataset, from season, production focus, marketing group, and sex to variation within individual animals. In the end, those individual differences accounted for the largest portion of the variability.
"A lot of factors turn a pig into pork," Boler notes. "In the pig's journey from the farm to his ultimate fate, a lot of things happen. Whether he got in an argument with other pigs on the truck, whether he had to walk a long or a short distance, how much rest he was given at the plant, what kind of experience he had during termination, how that carcass was cooled. All these things can independently influence the products derived from that pig."

Finding that the majority of the variability was within individual pigs and not in any particular management practice is good news for producers.

"It means the things they're doing to deal with the variability in their environment are just fine. They don't need to stop doing any of those things," Dilger says. "There are things in the industry that get picked on. One of those is pigs raised in the summer. People think, 'Ah, they're so bad, so slow.' But no, they're fine. Gilts get blamed for a lot of things, too, but in the end, they're fine. We're not going to get rid of young female pigs or the summer. I believe we're stuck with those. Understanding the variability and differences allows you to better manage the system."

The articles discussed here, "Pork loin quality is not indicative of fresh belly or fresh and cured ham quality," "Comparison of variability in pork carcass composition and quality between barrows and gilts," and "Characterisation of variability in pork carcass composition and primal quality," are published in the Journal of Animal Science. Two additional articles resulting from the project are also published in the journal.