Fed Cattle Recap | Prices, harvest volume continue strong

Cash prices for fed cattle were mostly $1 higher and cash sales volume jumped up after the prior holiday-shortened week.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

December 10, 2019

As Father Time gets ready to draw the curtain on 2019, the cash trade for fed cattle remains robust. Strong consumer demand and continued good margins are keeping packers in the market and plants running full steam ahead.

Will underlying strength in the fed market continue into the first quarter of 2020? Many prognosticators think so. Certainly having Tyson’s Finney County plant back online is helping now and will continue to help keep feedyards current. Time will tell.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 262,534 head for the week ending Dec. 7, compared with about 224,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 71,187 head, compared to about 51,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 47,000 head for the week. The packers have 164,000 head lined up for December. National cash sales included 22,403 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 18,000 head from the previous week.  

Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted Five Area average cash steer price for the week ending Dec. 7 was $118.92 per cwt, which was 71 cents higher than the week prior.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $188.10 per cwt, $1.27 higher. 

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $188.99 per cwt, which was $2.62 higher.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 679,000 head, which compares with 669,000 head the same week last year. The current year-to-date total estimated federally inspected slaughter is about 337,000 head higher than last year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Nov. 23 was 911 pounds, 1 pound lower than the previous week and quite a bit higher than the 902 pounds the same week last year. Last year’s weight for the same week was 2 pounds heavier than the week prior. 

The Choice-Select spread was $17.26 on Friday, Dec. 6, compared with $21.78 the previous week and a $13.79 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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