U.S. red-meat production during December, at 4.1 billion pounds, was up slightly from a year earlier, mainly because of a recovery in pork production, as beef slaughter and production declined according to the latest Livestock Slaughter report from USDA.

With cattle numbers and slaughter numbers down, the report shows heavier slaughter weights helping temper the decline in beef production. Overall, beef production during December, at 2 billion pounds, was down 2 percent from December 2013. Cattle slaughter meanwhile, at 2.4 million head, was down 5 percent. Average live weights were 29 pounds heavier than a year ago, at 1,363 pounds, helping compensate for the drop in slaughter numbers.

December pork production, at 2.1 billion pounds, was up 2 percent from a year ago, with slaughter numbers up 1 percent at 9.8 million head and average live weights up 3 pounds from a year earlier. In December 2013, the pork industry was battling the severe outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which negatively impacted pork production. The increase in slaughter numbers reflects progress the industry made in controlling the disease during 2014.

View the entire Livestock Slaughter report from USDA.