The cash market for fed cattle gained another $1-$2 on greater volume.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

August 4, 2020

Cash prices for fed cattle continue clawing out of the chasm, ticking another $1-$2 per cwt higher for the week ending August 1. Wholesale beef prices remain historically low and retailers, taking advantage of the situation, are buying ahead for Labor Day as well as featuring beef more prominently in their weekly specials.

That’s good news as the backlog of long-fed cattle remains. However, some analysts are now predicting that we’ll work through those cattle by this fall. Time will tell, but the sooner those cattle are harvested, the sooner the fed cattle market can begin to look ahead instead of in the rearview mirror.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 252,523 head for the week ending August 1, compared with about 261,000 the previous week. The five area total cash steer and heifer volume was 102,950 head, compared with about 99,900 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 31,000 head for the week. The nationally reported 15- to 30-day delivery was 15,113 head along with 11,598 head the previous week. 

August 1 fed cattle prices.png

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending August 1 $98.66 per cwt, which was $1.42 higher compared with the previous week. Last year the same week it was $113.82, which was just 14 cents higher than the previous week.  The current Five Area weighted average live formula price was $99.15 for the week.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $160.03 per cwt, which was $1.93 higher than the week prior. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $155.78, which was 84 cents higher.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest on Friday, July 31, was reported at 638,000 head which compares with 633,000 head the same week last year. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending July 18 was 899 pounds, 3 pounds lower compared with the previous week but still light years ahead of the 866 pounds the same week last year. Last year’s weight was 1 pound higher compared to the previous week.  

The Choice-Select spread ended the week at $13.37 on Friday, July 31, compared with $11.14 the previous week and a $24.10 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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