Fed Cattle Recap | Year ends on a high note for the market

Santa brought a $3 higher fed cattle market to end the year on a high note.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

January 1, 2019

It’s debatable whether or not Santa keeps a list of those who are naughty and nice. But if you’re a cattle feeder, it’s worth considering. For whatever reason, however, Santa was very good to cattle feeders for the week ending Dec. 29.

Aside from Santa and his eight tiny reindeer, there were a number of reasons for the fed cattle market to end the year on a high note. Continued strong beef demand, winter weather throughout much of the cattle feeding belt and current feedyards are a few. Combining all the end-of-year factors, the feedlot cattle trades were $3 to $4 per cwt higher, especially late week in the Southern Plains.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 179,421 head, compared with about 233,379 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 67,725 head, compared with about 70,273 head the previous week. However, keep in mind that this is a holiday-shortened week so the numbers are always smaller.

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 23,000 head this week. The national cash sales this week included 20,326 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 26,829 head last week.

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $122.52 per cwt, compared with $118.81 the previous week, which was $3.71 higher for the week. 

The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $194.25 per cwt, compared with $189.96 the previous week, which was $4.29 higher.

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $190.29, compared with $190.45 the previous week, making it 16 cents lower.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 438,000 head. That compares with 498,000 head the same week last year. The current federally inspected total harvest is approximately 741,000 head higher than last year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Dec. 15 was not available because of the government shutdown of USDA NASS.

The Choice-Select spread was $6.89 on Friday, compared with $6.55 the previous week and a $9.92 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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