The cash market for finished cattle coming out of U.S. feedyards and headed for harvest was $2 to $3 per cwt lower for the week ending April 8. As cash prices fall, carcass weights continue to dip and weekly cattle slaughter continues to rise.
Estimated total federally-inspected cattle harvest was 573,000 head, compared with 536,000 the same week last year, about 37,000 head higher than last year. Year-to-date total is more than 8 million head harvested, approximately 469,000 more harvested so far this year compared with last year.
The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region, which includes the major feeding areas of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado, was $124.33, compared with $127.38 the previous week, about $3 lower.
The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer was $198.01, compared with $205.01 the previous week, for a decline of about $7.
The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 51,268, compared with more than 80,000 head the previous week.
The Five Area average formula price was $207.29, 28 cents higher than last week.
Five Area formula sales totaled 161,440 head, compared with more than 173,000 the previous week. The total national formula sales were almost 218,000 head for the week.
Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvested was about 69,000 head, compared with 44,000 the previous week. Packers have more than 345,000 head of forward contracts available for April along with 177,000 head for May.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending March 25 was 4 pounds lower at 868 pounds, compared with 887 pounds last year. Good warm weather this spring is helping more calf feds get to harvest.
The Choice-Select spread was $9.73 on Friday, about 30 cents lower compared with the previous week and that compares with a $9.55 spread last year. The spread widens now because of tremendous demand for Choice steaks; in June last year, the spread topped out at more than $20.