Thoughts that the cash market for fed cattle has hit its high for the year continue to be pushed aside as the market shrugs off the bears and keeps climbing. For the week ending April 22, cash trade for fed cattle was $2 to $4 per cwt higher once again.
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The higher prices were good news for cattle feeders, and came in spite of higher slaughter numbers. Estimated total federally-inspected cattle harvest was 595,000 head, compared with 585,000 the same week last year. The weekly total was only 10,000 head over last year after being 30,000-50,000 head most weeks so far.
In other areas, however, numbers were higher. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 125,732 head, compared with about 99,586 the previous week.
The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region, which includes the major feeding areas of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, was $131.60, compared with $128.01 the previous week, for a gain of $3.59.
The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $209.23, compared with $205.30 the previous week, for a gain of $3.93.
The five area average formula price was $203.03, compared with $203.69 the previous week. That total was 66 cents lower. Five Area formula sales totaled 168,790 head, compared with about 160,086 the previous week. The total national formula cattle harvest was 221,645 head for the week.
Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvest was about 83,000 head, compared with 71,000 the previous week. Packers have more than 349,000 head of forward contracts available for April along with 238,000 for May.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending April 8 was 10 pounds lower at 852 pounds, compared with 880 pounds last year. The five year average of 858 pounds has dropped faster this year—48 pounds since Jan. 1—because there were such enormous losses last year that feedlots put more weight on cattle, hoping for a recovery. The same thing happened in stocker operations last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $13.27 on Friday, about 67 cents higher compared with the previous week and that compares with a $9.62 spread last year.