Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices choppy on big volume

The cash cattle market continues to respond to excellent beef demand and packer needs.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

May 8, 2018

The cash market for the week ending May 5 was a take-your-pick kind of affair. Cash prices were steady/higher/lower on the week, depending on whether you sold live cattle or in-the-beef and even what area of the country you are in.

But the bigger and better news for the week was the volume of cash cattle sold. Packers continue to look to keep cattle around them as they deal with increased demand. Packers’ supply issues will heal themselves as we get into summer and heaver on-feed numbers. But for now, cattle feeders are enjoying the ride.

Looking first at volume, the Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 144,038 head, compared with about 125,764 head the previous week, one of the biggest numbers in a while. The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 225,305 head, compared with about 215,960 the previous week. The national cash sales this week include about 49,127 head of 15 to 30-day delivery.    

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 647,000 head, compared with 615,000 head the same week last year.  The current year-to-date total is about 251,000 head higher than last year. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 39,000 head, compared with about 69,000 head the previous week. The packers have about 202,000 head of forward contracts for May along with about 214,000 head for June.

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $124.81 per cwt, compared with $123.73 the previous week, $1.08 higher for the week. The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $193.65, compared with $196.21 the previous week, which was $2.56 lower.                                    

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $196.03 per cwt, compared with $192.21 the previous week, making it $3.82 higher.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending April 21 was 856 pounds, which was 11 pounds lower than the previous week but above the 849  pounds notched the same week last year, continuing this year’s run of higher weights than last year. This is the time of year that weights drop because of increased numbers of calf feds starting to be harvested.

The Choice-Select spread was $18.81 on Friday, compared with $17.42 the previous week and $19.30 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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