Another week, another adventure in the cash market for fed cattle. We’re entering the period of highest beef demand—between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day—yet it appears we’ve put in the high for the fed cattle trade.
Packers continue to hold the lead and with plenty of cattle around them, have the leverage in the market. Meanwhile, the market anticipates more fed cattle harvest in the weeks and months ahead. With packers turning a profit, expect to see harvest rates ramp up.
Looking first at volume, Five Area formula sales totaled 247,465 head for the week ending May 4, compared with about 239,110 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 128,870 head, compared with about 95,404 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 58,000 head for the week. The packers have 184,000 head lined up for May. National cash sales this week included 49,913 head of 15- to 30-day delivery which was very large and also had about 32,000 head the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending May 4 was $123.76 per cwt, which was $2.93 lower for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $198.92 per cwt, $5.66 lower.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $203.58 per cwt, which was $1.04 higher.
The May 3 estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 670,000 head, compared with 652,000 head the same week last year. During the last seven weeks, harvest is running 124,000 head higher than last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending April 20 was 857 pounds, 7 pounds lower than the previous week and compared with 856 pounds the same week last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $14.07 on Friday, May 4, compared with $13.58 the previous week and $18.81 last year.