Continued strong consumer demand is key for cash fed cattle trade post-Labor Day.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

August 29, 2018

Labor Day is almost upon us and, except for any last-minute buying, retailers have pretty well firmed up their orders for the last big grilling holiday of the summer. That could be one reason for the slowdown in the market for the week ending August 25.

The cash trade for fed cattle was almost $1 per cwt lower again with cash sales volume that was just a tad off of the week prior. Plenty of cattle are still out there and how the market reacts to the continued strong supply remains to be seen.

The August 1 Cattle on Feed report showed the highest August 1 inventory since the series began in 1996 and the second big inventory report for July.

That, along with the Cold Storage report which was also the highest July on record, shows we have plenty of beef still to chew through. Whether or not consumer demand here and abroad holds up this fall and winter will be critical.  

Looking at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 228,429 head, compared with about 243,928 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 95,196 head, compared to about 101,210 head the previous week.

National cash sales this week included about 16,800 head of 15- to 30-day delivery which was up almost 10,000 head from the previous week. Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 30,000 head and packers have about 183,000 head for September.

Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $109.02 per cwt, compared with $109.91 the previous week, which was 89 cents lower for the week. 

The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $172.78 per cwt, compared with $173.10 the previous week, which was 32 cents lower.  

The weighted average formula price for the Five Area region was $176.51 per cwt, compared with $179.63 the previous week, making it $3.12 lower. The Five Area region, copmprised of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, along with Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, markets more than 80% of the fed cattle in the country.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 636,000 head, compared to 645,000 head the same week last year. The current year-to-date total is 567,000 head higher than last year and 1.7 million higher than 2016. So we’re looking at two years of big numbers.    

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending August 11 was 881 pounds, which was 1 pound higher than the previous week and 1 pound less the 882 pounds the same week last year. 

The Choice-Select spread was $9.50 on Friday, compared with $10.46 the previous week and a $3.02 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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