As consumers along with the beef complex continue to adjust to the reality of COVID-19, many wonder when the futures market will calm down and cash cattle prices will rebound. The unfortunate answer is nobody knows.
However, Tyson announced that they will offer a one-time assistant payment to cattle feeders this week of $5.00 per cwt live and $7.94 per cwt dressed. That will certainly influence the trade this week. However, it is not known if other packers will do something similar.
Looking first at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 235,301 head for the week ending March 21, compared with about 264,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 131,338 head, compared with about 108,000 head the previous week, so the week saw the largest number in a long time.
National cash sales this week included 58,755 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 32,478 from the previous week, so the packers have over 91,000 head to use soon.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending March 21 was $109.89 per cwt, which was $1.05 higher compared to the previous week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $173.13 per cwt, which was 92 cents lower. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $178.78, which was $4.72 lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week was 653,000 head, which compares with 636,000 head the same week last year. During the last 10 weeks this year, cattle harvest is about 256,000 head higher than the same 10 weeks last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending March 7 was 903 pounds, which was 6 pounds higher than the previous week and compares with 871 pounds the same week last year. Last year’s weight was 3 pounds lower than the previous week.
The Choice-Select spread was $13.58 on Friday, March 20, compared with $6.16 the previous week and a $10.45 spread last year.