Fed Cattle Recap

Fed Cattle Recap | Cash market still in summer slump

The cash trade for feedlot cattle was mostly $2 lower.

The cash market for fed cattle continued to slip-slide lower the week ending August 12. While the market swoon wasn’t big—around $2—the summer slump in the market appears to be firmly in control.

The Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price was $115.17 per cwt, compared with $117.30 the previous week, which was $2.13 lower. The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $183.87, compared with $187.36 the previous week. 

The Five Area average formula price was $188.27, compared with $191.05 the previous week. The weekly weighted average Five Area region formula dairy bred price, which includes many Holsteins but also other breeds, was $178.81, compared with $182.02 the previous week.   

However, volume remains strong, as it has all year. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 112,024 head, compared with about 79,251 head the previous week. Both the Nebraska and Iowa-Minnesota areas had over 40,000 head this week.

Five Area formula sales volume totaled 203,733, compared with about 197,782 the previous week. 

The national cash-type sales, which are mostly cattle that are bought for 1-14 day delivery period, hit about 94,000 head for those bought 1-14 days out, but there were also over 30,000 head bought for 15-30 days delivery, compared with about 15,000 head the previous week.

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 49,000 head, compared with about 44,000 head the previous week. Packers have over 226,000 head of forward contracts available for August and about 245,000 head for September.       

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending July 29 was 7 pounds higher at 875 pounds, which compares with 883 pounds the same week last year. During the last two weeks, this weight jumped 10 pounds; a year ago, the increase was only 3 pounds during the same time period, so we’re closing in on last year’s weights.

The Choice-Select spread was $3.48 on Friday, compared with $6.30 the previous week and a $7.57 spread last year.  

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 641,000 head, compared with 579,000 the same week last year. Continuing the trend we’ve seen all year, the total is 62,000 head over a year ago. The estimated year-to-date total cattle harvest is now about 1.1 million head higher than last year.

Czerwien is a market reporter in Amarillo, Texas. From the heart of Cattle Feeding Country, Ed follows the fed cattle, feeder cattle, slaughter cow and wholesale markets to keep beef producers up-to-date on the market moves that affect them. He previously worked with USDA as a Market News Reporter. Ed is now semi-retired and continues to work with cattle trade analysis. 

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