Fed Cattle Recap | Cash market takes giant leap forward

The cash market for fed cattle was mostly $8 to $14 per cwt higher on lower cash sales volume.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

March 31, 2020

Packers paid up the week ending March 28 and narrowed the spread between wholesale and live prices. Was it a one-week wonder or a new and sustainable market move? Time will tell.  

Looking first at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 237,453 head compared with about 235,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 89,505 head compared with about 131,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 40,000 head for the week. The packers have 235,000 head lined up for April. National cash sales for the week included 30,998 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 58,755 from the previous week, so the packers have about 90,000 head to use soon. 

Weekly weighted cash fed steer prices

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending March 28 was $119.31 per cwt, which was $9.42 higher compared with the previous week. Last year the same week it was $126.34 which was about $2 lower than the week prior.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $188.88 per cwt, which was $15.75 higher. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $177.87, which was 91 cents lower.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week ending March 28 was 676,000 head, which compares with 619,000 head the same week last year. During the last 11 weeks this year, harvest is about 313,000 head higher than the same 11 weeks last year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending March 14 was 901 pounds, which was 2 pounds lower than the previous week. That compares with 865 pounds the same week last year, which was 6 pounds lower than the previous week. 

The Choice-Select spread was $10.46 on Friday, March 27, compared with $13.58 the previous week and a $7.15 spread last year. 


About the Author(s)

Ed Czerwien

Market Reporter

Ed Czerwien is a market analyst in Amarillo, Texas. From the heart of Cattle Feeding Country, Ed follows the cattle 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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