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The cash market for fed cattle has been off to the races lately. For the week ending Dec. 14, however, prices coasted to steady.
As Christmas draws near and retail and foodservice beef buying is wrapping up, packers are working to fill those orders and keep coolers, meat cases and plates supplied with beef. That’s been underpinning the fed cattle market of late and keeping feedyards current.
For the week ending Dec. 14, the cash market for fed cattle was mostly steady to $1 per cwt higher and cash sales volume was steady with the previous week.
Looking first at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 252,948 head, compared with about 262,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 70,858 head, compared with about 71,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 42,000 head for the week. The packers have 164,000 head for December. National cash sales for the week included 27,078 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 22,000 head from the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Dec. 14 was 119.17 per cwt, which was 25 cents higher than the prior week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $189.54 per cwt, $1.44 higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $191.14, which was $2.15 higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 662,000 head, which compares with 654,000 head the same week last year. The current year-to-date total estimated federally inspected slaughter is about 346,000 head higher than last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Nov. 30 was 911 pounds, the same as the previous week. Carcass weights are now exceeding last year—now running 12 pounds higher than the 899 pounds the same week last year. Last year’s weight was 3 pounds lower than the week prior. Does that signal weights will begin to slide going into 2020? Stay tuned.
The Choice-Select spread was $12.05 on Friday Dec. 6, compared with $17.26 the previous week and a $7.82 spread last year.
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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