The cash market for fed cattle stayed on the rails for the week ending March 18, and the track continues to gain elevation. Fed cattle traded $2 to $4 per cwt higher, extending a market run that has cattle feeders beginning to see light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
Estimated total federally-inspected cattle harvest was 588,000 head, compared with 550,000 head the same week last year. Year to date total estimated harvest is 6,341,000 head, about 244,000 head higher than last year.
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 $128.64, compared with $125.23 the previous week, which was $3.41 higher.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area was $207.94, compared with $201.56 the previous week, ending up about $6.38 higher.
The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 110,934 head, compared to about 106,704 the previous week.
The Five Area average formula price was $199.65, compared with $199.19 the previous week for a 46 cent gain. Five Area formula sales totaled 168,225 head, compared with about 145,557 the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvest was about 48,000 head, compared with 47,000 head the previous week. Packers have over 211,000 head of forward contracts available for March along with over 334,000 for April.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending March 4 was 2 pounds lower at 876 pounds. That compares with 888 pounds last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $8.95 on Friday, about 10 cents higher compared with the previous week. That compares with a $9.48 spread last year.