Winter weather may be great for kids with a sledding hill, but it’s not much fun for cattle feeders or fed cattle.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

March 5, 2019

Winter weather has become the main topic cussed and discussed by cattle feeders. Cold, wet, sloppy weather has sliced live weights, cut carcass weights and increased costs of gain.

But winter weather also means a weather market. The feedlot cattle trades were about $2 per cwt higher for cash prices on live cattle and over $3 higher for carcass prices. What’s more, that gain came with much bigger cash sales numbers.

It remains to be seen if a higher cash market can be sustained. Prices tend to increase seasonally going into Spring, but packers have plenty of cattle around them. The push and pull of the live market continues.

Looking at volume for the week ending March 2, the Five Area formula sales totaled 226,602 head, compared with about 222,911 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 104,645 head, compared with about 44,930 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 36,000 head this week and the packers have 220,000 head for March along with 300,000 head for April. March and April now are each over 50,000 head higher than last year.    

National cash sales this week included 14,993 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 5,800 head previous week.     

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $128.22 per cwt, compared with $126.36 the previous week, $1.86 higher for the week. 

The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $205.07 per cwt, compared with $201.97 the previous week, $3.10 higher. 

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $200.92 per cwt, compared with $200.51 the previous week, making it 41 cents higher.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 603,000 head and that compares with 611,000 head the same week last year. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Feb. 2 was 879 pounds, down 6 pounds from the previous week and compared with 881 pounds the same week last year. So cold weather and storms keeps pushing the weights down, which is normal during the winter.

The Choice-Select spread was $4.50 on Friday, compared with $7.04 the previous week and a $7.88 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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