Depending on where you live, March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb, as the old saw predicts. But for others dealing with ongoing flooding or the aftermath, March was more like a honey badger.
Now, looking at the cash fed cattle market, the question hanging over the trade is whether or not we’ve hit the top in prices for the year. Time will tell, but that idea seems to be the prevailing notion.
The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 221,350 head for the week ending March 30, compared with about 240,803 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 75,703 head, compared with about 73,836 head the previous week.
We report the Five Area averages because of the significance the region has on the market. The Five Area region is comprised of Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado and; Iowa-Minnesota. These states produce more than 80% of the fed cattle marketed.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 54,000 head for the week. The packers have 305,000 head lined up for April, compared with only 230,000 head the same month last year.
National cash sales for the week included 19,786 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and about 18,500 head the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending March 30 was $126.34 per cwt, compared with $128.96 the previous week, which was $2.62 lower for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $205.60 per cwt, compared with $207.64 the previous week, which was $2.04 lower.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $205.32 per cwt, compared with $205.27 the previous week, making it 5 cents higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 614,000 head and that compares with 590,000 head the same week last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending March 16 was 865 pounds, which was 6 pounds lower than the previous week and 12 below the 877 pounds the same week last year. Very muddy conditions and storms continue to push carcass weights much lower than any time since 2015.
The Choice-Select spread was $7.15 on Friday, compared with $10.45 the previous week and a $12.35 spread last year.