Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices stabilize

The cash market for fed cattle improved slightly on steady sales volume.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

May 5, 2020

The cash market for the week ending May 2 showed some steadiness and even a little life after weeks of turmoil and volatility. The market ended the week mostly $1 to $2 per cwt higher and the cash sales volume was about the same as the previous week.

Is this an indication that the cash market has found a bottom? In this environment, it’s far too early to make that call. Market volatility will be with us for the foreseeable future and only time will answer that question.

Looking first at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 147,229 head, compared with about 162,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 46,271 head, compared with about 47,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 40,000 head for the week. 

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price was $98.18 per cwt, which was $1.49 higher compared with the previous week. Last year the same week it was $123.76, which was about $3 lower than the week prior. However, the Five Area weighted average live formula price was $105.86 for the week.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $154.36 per cwt, which was 5 cents higher. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $164.61, which was $4.73 lower.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 425,000 head which compares with 673,000 head the same week last year, so four weeks of well over 100,000 to 200,000 head lower each week than last year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending April 18 was 889 pounds, which was 3 pounds higher than the previous week. That compares with 857 pounds the same week last year, which was 7 pounds lower than the previous week. 

The Choice-Select spread was $20.32 on Friday, May 1, compared to $14.35 the previous week and a $14.07 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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