Market Outlook

Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, April 2018 (summary)

Canada and Mexico Supply the Vast Majority of Live Animal Imports to the United States

A net importer of live animals, the United States imported 1.81 million head of cattle and 5.6 million head of hogs in 2017. In 2018, imports of live cattle are forecast at 1.91 million head and hog imports at 5.63 million head, increases of 6 percent and about 1 percent, respectively. While these animals vary by weight, they can be grouped into two main categories: young cattle and young hogs imported for further feeding and finishing before slaughter, i.e., “feeder cattle” and “finishing pigs,” and animals ready for slaughter, i.e., slaughter cattle and slaughter hogs. In 2017, 67 percent of live cattle imports were feeder/stocker1 cattle and 32 percent were slaughter cattle. For 2017 live hog imports, 85 percent were finishing pigs, while 13 percent were slaughter hogs. Import shares in 2018—between feeder cattle and slaughter cattle, and between finishing pigs and slaughter hogs—are expected to remain largely the same as in 2017. Regarding origin, all but a handful of live animal imports come from countries within North America due to proximity and ease of transport to the U.S. Feeder cattle come from Mexico and Canada, with Mexico supplying the large majority. Practically all cattle for slaughter come from Canada. For live hogs, almost all imports—both finishing and slaughter—originate from Canada. Between 2013 and 2017, live cattle imports averaged 6 percent of U.S. commercial cattle slaughter. Over the same period, live hog imports averaged 5 percent of U.S. commercial hog slaughter.

Cattle/Beef: The beef production forecast for first-half 2018 was reduced on an expected slower pace of fed cattle slaughter and lighter cattle weights. Although more fed cattle will be slaughtered and at heavier weights in second-half 2018, the annual beef production forecast for 2018 was pared back slightly to 27.6 billion pounds. U.S. beef trade forecasts are unchanged from last month. Cattle exports were revised downward by 40,000 to 160,000 head on lower North American demand.


See the April LDP Outlook report and previous reports.