The cash market for fed cattle was steady to weak on lower volume

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

October 16, 2018

If you look at seasonal tendencies in the fed cattle market, we typically see a spring high, then a gradual fading through summer and early fall. Cash prices for fed cattle usually slide until September-October, then begin to pick up steam as the year draws to a close.

The question is, will we see that seasonal pattern this year? So far this fall, cash prices have held generally steady, but with a weaker undertone.  And volumes have remained robust, keeping the pipeline full.

Thanks to robust beef demand, cattle prices have been much stronger all year than many anticipated. Time will tell if that strong demand remains through the holiday season. Stay tuned.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 233,338 head, compared with about 241,069 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 89,722 head, compared with about 111,608 head the previous week.  

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 39,000 head for the week ending Oct. 13. Packers have about 169,000 head committed to them for October along with about 201,000 head for November. The national cash sales this week included about 20,000 head of 15- to 30 day-deliveries along with 38,000 head the previous week.

Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region for the week ending Oct. 13 was $110.52 per cwt, compared with $110.95 the previous week, which was 43 cents lower for the week. 

The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $173.52 per cwt, compared with $174.83 the previous week, which was $1.31 lower.

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $177.31 per cwt, compared with $176.95 the previous week, making it 36 cents higher.

The estimated weekly total Federally inspected cattle harvest was 639,000 head, compared with 623,000 head the same week last year. The current year-to-date total is 648,000 head higher than last year. And 2017 was around a million head higher than 2016.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Sept. 29 was 900 pounds, up 4 pounds from the previous week, where weights had been exactly the same for three weeks. Last year at this time, steer carcass weights were 894 pounds.

However, heifer carcass weight continued to climb 5 pounds higher at 830 pounds. Heifer weights have climbed 11 pounds in the last few weeks.

The Choice-Select spread was $10.43 on Friday, compared with $11.51 the previous week and an $8.17 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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