Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices for fed cattle hold the line

In spite of pressure in the wholesale market, cash prices were steady to $1 higher on slightly larger volume.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

November 26, 2019

With holiday beef buying about wrapped up for retailers, packers are working to fill those orders. That’s put an underpinning to cash prices for fed cattle, even though the wholesale trade has backed off a bit.

Nobody knows if retailers have their needs covered or if there will be any last-minute buys to keep meat cases full. But consumer demand remains in good shape and beef will no doubt make the holidays a little merrier for many people.    

Looking at volumes, the Five Area formula sales volume for the week ending Nov. 23 totaled 239,700 head, compared with about 251,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 87,321 head, compared with about 74,000 head the previous week. 

The Five Area region is comprised of Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa-Minnesota.  These states market around 80% of the fed cattle in the nation.

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 47,000 head for the week. The packers had 210,000 head for November but drop down to 163,000 head for December. National cash sales this week included 27,576 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 28,000 head from the previous week.  

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Nov. 23 was $115.96 per cwt, 77 cents higher than the week prior.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $183.59 per cwt, which was $1.87 higher. 

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $184.88 per cwt, which was $2.15 higher.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 662,000 head, which compares with 572,000 head the same week last year. However, last year included the Thanksgiving holiday shutdowns, so that is why it is so much higher this year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Nov. 11 was 908 pounds, 5 pounds higher than the previous week and 4 pounds heavier than the 904 pounds the same week last year. This week a year ago saw carcass weights 5 pounds higher than the week before, making it the top weight for last year.

The Choice-Select spread was $21.25 on Friday, Nov. 22, compared with $26.47 the previous week. The spread dropped on the heels of big drops in daily Choice rib and loin prices. However, the spread is still substantially higher than last year’s $15.34, which was exactly the same as the previous week 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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