Fed Cattle Recap | Santa Claus came early for cattle feeders

It’s been Christmas all month for feedyards as prices continue to gain ground.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

December 24, 2019

Christmas came early for feedyards all across this great land. Cash prices for fed cattle have been on a sustained upward run and the week ending Dec. 21 was no different.

Cash prices for fed cattle were mostly $1 to $2 per cwt higher for the week while cash sales volume was lower than the previous week.

Looking first at volume, The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 273,702 head, compared with about 252,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 59,066 head, compared with about 70,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 41,000 head for the week. The packers have 192,000 head lined up for January. National cash sales included 26,267 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 27,000 head from the previous week.  

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for week ending Dec. 21 was $120.36 per cwt, $1.19 higher than the week prior. Last year, the price rang in at $118.81 for the same week.

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $191.85, which was $2.31 higher. 

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $191.64, 50 cents higher.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 668,000 head, which compares with 660,000 head the same week last year. The current year-to-date total estimated FIS slaughter is about 357,000 head higher than last year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Dec. 7 was 906 pounds, 5 pounds lower than the previous week and quite a bit higher than the 896 pounds the same week last year. Last year’s carcass weight was 3 pounds lower than the week before.  

The Choice-Select spread was $8.67 on Friday Dec. 20, compared with $12.05 the previous week and a $6.55 spread last year. 

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas.


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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