Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices claw higher

Cash prices for fed cattle were mostly $2-$3 higher and the cash sales volume was just a little lower than the previous week.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

August 11, 2020

The rally in cash prices for fed cattle is now well into its second month. That’s certainly good news for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers alike. However, there are some geographical differences throughout the Five Area marketing region.

The Five Area region is made of Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa-Minnesota. These states account for around 80% of fed cattle marketings. However, the Midwest states are leading the charge on cash prices. That’s because feedlots there have tighter numbers than feedyards on the Southern Plains, which still have plenty of long-fed cattle to deal with.

Looking at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 252,500 head for the week ending August 8, compared with about 252,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 91,647 head, compared with about 102,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 27,000 head for the week. The nationally reported 15- to 30-day delivery was 13,562 head along with 15,113 head the previous week. 

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Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending August 8 was $101.34 per cwt, which was $2.68 higher compared with the previous week. Last year the same week it was $112.37, which was about $1.40 lower than the week prior. The current Five Area weighted average live formula price was $100.47 this week. Recall this week is the anniversary of the Finney County beef plant fire, which caused a major disruption in the cattle market last year.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $163.20 per cwt, which was $3.17 higher. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $157.27, $1.49 higher.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest on Friday, August 7, was reported at 633,000 head, which compares with 647,000 head the same week last year. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending July 25 was 903 pounds, which was 4 pounds higher compared with the previous week. As has been the case ever since COVID-19 pushed a tsunami through the beef marketing chain, weights currently are still significantly higher than the 869 pounds the same week last year. Last year’s weight was 3 pounds higher compared to the previous week.  

The Choice-Select spread ended the week at $12.72 on Friday, August 7, compared with $13.37 the previous week and a $22.56 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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