Fed Cattle Recap | Market continues a remarkable bull run

The cash trade for fed cattle likely saw its biggest increase ever recorded for the week ending May 6.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

May 9, 2017

2 Min Read
Fed Cattle Recap | Market continues a remarkable bull run

My, oh my. What a week for the fed cattle market, which notched what is probably the biggest weekly jump to the upside ever recorded.

Click on the red arrow below for a full audio report.


The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region, which includes the major feeding areas of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, hit $144.60 per cwt for the week ending May 6. That compares with $136.22 the previous week, for a jump of $8.38. 

The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $229.80, a remarkable $13.35 increase from the $216.45 the previous week.

And, once again, the price jump to the upside came in the face of higher slaughter numbers. Estimated total federally-inspected harvest was 612,000 head, compared with 586,000 the same week last year. That’s an increase of 26,000 head over last year. What’s more, the year-to-date estimated total is 596,000 head over last year,  so we’re definitely not short of numbers yet.

The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 140,937 head, compared with about 133,819 the previous week. 

The Five Area average formula price was $213.87, compared with $207.48 the previous week, for a $6.39 increase in price. Five Area formula sales totaled 176,308 head, compared with about 167,359 the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvest was only about 34,000 head, compared with 89,000 head the previous week. Packers have more than 241,000 head of forward contracts available for May and 256,000 for June.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Apr 22 was 1 pound higher at 849 pounds, compared with 870 pounds last year. The five year average is 849 pounds, so carcass weights are currently right on track.

And even though cash feed cattle prices recorded what may be a record jump last week, here’s news to match that feat: the Choice-Select spread was $19.30 on Friday, May 5, which was over $5.00 higher compared with the previous week. What’s more, that compares with a $9.42 spread last year. Since the Choice-Select spread last year went from $9 to $20 in the four weeks of May, what’s in store this 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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