Negotiated cash fed cattle prices were steady to a touch softer in the Northern Plains this week at $126 per cwt in Nebraska and at $127-$128 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade was reported at $204-$206, compared to $206 the previous week. Prices in the Southern Plains were $1-$2 lower at $124.
Through Thursday, the Five Area weighted average steer price was $124.43 on a live basis and $203.94 in the beef.
Other than 35 cents higher in spot Apr, Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.42 higher week to week on Friday.
Lighter carcass weights continue to mitigate increasing cattle numbers.
The average dressed steer weight for the week ending March 23 was 866 pounds, which was 12 pounds lighter than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight was 804 pounds, which was 11 pounds less than the prior year.
Fed cattle slaughter of 492,477 head was 11,614 head more year over year. Total cattle slaughter of 636,169 head was 24,792 head more. Beef production for the week was 9.6 million pounds more than the previous year at 508.4 million pounds.
“Carcass weights are bound to see some more decline with calf-feds on the horizon,” AMS analysts explain. “Packers are managing their inventory rather well for this time of year as end product tonnage is below a year ago.”
Listen to Wes Ishmael's Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report every Saturday morning on the BEEF magazine website. This is your report for Saturday, April 6, 2019.