Cash prices for fed cattle slipped $3 to $5.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

April 11, 2018

The cash market for fed cattle continued its retreat for the week ending April 7, sliding $3 to $5 per cwt from the week before. The price rollback is a combination of factors, some psychological and some fundamental. But the net result is a cash market looking for an Ace up its sleeve and not finding a hole card anywhere.

Looking at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 215,786 head, compared with about 204,069 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was  77,497 head, compared with about 91,287 head the previous week. These Five Area cash sales represented 90% of the total national sales this week, which is normal.                                   

Most of the cash sales are 1-14 day delivery but the national cash sales this week include about 22,900 head of 15-30 day delivery. That continues a trend the past four weeks, with about 133,000 head sold with extra days.  

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 615,000 head, compared with 578,000 head the same week last year.  Current year-to-date total is about 182,000 head higher than last year. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 46,000 head, compared with about 41,000 head the previous week. The packers have about 265,000 head of forward contracts for April along with very big 15-30 day cash sales for April. 

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $116.73 per cwt, compared with $120.96 the previous week. That’s $4.23 lower for the week and over $9 lower for the past two weeks. The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $187.74, compared with $192.32 the previous week, which is 4.58 lower week to week and down $14 in two weeks.

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $198.13, compared with $202.79 the previous week, making it $4.66 lower.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending March 24 was 878 pounds, which was 1 pound higher than the week prior and a full 10 pounds heavier than the 868 pounds the same week last year. Heads up, adding 10 pounds on every steer carcass for the week is about the same as adding 3,700 carcasses weighing 800 pounds for the week.       

The Choice-Select spread was $8.71 on Friday, compared with $12.35 the previous week and $9.73 last year. The spread took a plunge on the heels of the $20 drop in the daily Choice rib primal during the week. 


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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