Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices continue to grind higher

Regional price differences continue, but the weighted average ticked up again.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

October 29, 2019

Remember the saying that turnabout is fair play? Well, the cash market for fed cattle did a turnabout, but given that cattle markets aren’t supposed to play fair, there were clearly other factors at work.

Be that as it may, the cash market has been higher in the northern parts of the Five Area feeding region, with the Southern Plains lagging behind. That was due in part to a disparity in supply, with the south having more cattle to harvest than the north.

However, for the week ending October 26, the market flipped-flopped, with the Southern Plains seeing prices $2 higher than the week before, while other regions ran closer to steady. All in, the Five Area weekly weighted average price ticked up 40 cents.

As a reminder, the Five Area region consists of Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa-Minnesota. These states market more than 80% of the fed cattle nationally.

Looking first at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 257,381 head, compared with about 250,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 72,361 head, compared with about 63,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 40,000 head for the week. The packers had 213,000 head for October along with 210,000 head lined up for November. National cash sales for the week included 12,203 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 22,000 head from the previous week.  

Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending October 26 for the Five Area region was $110.13 per cwt, which was 40 cents higher than the previous week.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $174.56 per cwt, which was 25 cents higher. 

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $175.71 per cwt, which was $1.57 higher.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 640,000 head, which compares with 635,000 head the same week last year. The YTD total is about 285,000 head higher than last year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending October 12 was 901 pounds, which was 2 pounds higher than the previous week.

However, carcass weights still lag 2018, when it hit 899 pounds the same week last year, which was 4 pounds lower than the week prior. Last year, weights dropped for three weeks in a row then jumped back up to top at 904 pounds.

The Choice-Select spread was $25.60 on Friday, October 25, compared with $25 the previous week and a $14.64 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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