The number of production days in February was the same as a year ago so that factor does not skew the results. Total slaughter of fed and non fed cattle for the month was 2.548 million head, 5.2% lower than a year ago.

Beef production in February was 2.092 billion pounds, 7% lower than a year ago as lower fed cattle weights further limited output. Steer and heifer slaughter was on a different trajectory last year, largely due to producers sending heifers to market rather than retaining them for herd rebuilding.

For all of 2022 steer slaughter was 337k head or 2% lower than the previous year while heifer slaughter was 467k head or 5% higher. In February, steer slaughter was 1.161 million head, down 4.4% from a year ago while heifer slaughter at 773k head was down 5%. We expect heifer slaughter to decline at a faster pace in 2023, in part because we are comparing to a high water mark last year but also because robust forward profits and expected moisture improvement should encourage a higher rate of heifer retention.

Cow slaughter was also lower in February and based on the pace of slaughter in recent weeks we expect March data will show the same thing. Total cow slaughter last month was 532,700 head, 6.2% lower than a year ago. Dairy cow slaughter was about unchanged with last year at 266,500 head while beef cow slaughter at 266,200 head was 35,400 head or 11.7% lower than a year ago.

Source: Daily Livestock Report - Steiner Consulting Group - View Complete Report