Get out your old Patsy Cline records because Crazy is the word of the minute, hour, day, week, month and who knows for how much longer. The market continues to whipsaw and the volatility is unlike anything we’ve seen.
It might be that cattle feeders would like to time travel back to when Patsy was still with us, when the crazy she crooned about had a different definition that what we’re living with now. Then again, cattle feeders may be feeling lonely and blue about now. But live with it we must, knowing that it will come to an end sometime.
Looking at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 256,436 head for the week ending April 4, compared with about 237,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 25,378 head, compared with about 89,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 36,000 head for the week. The packers have 235,000 head for April. National cash sales for the week included 10,348 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 30,998 from the previous week.
However, the packers are probably using quite a bit of the 90,000 head from the previous two weeks. How long they will be able to sustain good harvest numbers remains to be seen as the coronavirus continues to spread, affecting the plant labor situation.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending April 4 was $111.08 per cwt, $8.23 lower compared with the previous week. Last year the same week it was $125.30, which was about $1 lower than the previous week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $176.93 per cwt, which was $11.95 lower. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $186.34, which was $8.47 higher. This is typical, as the formula price lags cash prices by a week.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week ending April 4 was 626,000 head, which compares with 627,000 head the same week last year. During the last 12 weeks this year, total harvest is 312,000 head higher than the same 12 weeks last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending March 21 was 898 pounds, 3 pounds lower than the previous week and compared to 866 pounds the same week last year, which was 1 pound higher than the previous week.
The Choice-Select spread was $14.60 on Friday, April 4, compared with $10.46 the previous week and a $6.65 spread last year.