The cash market for fed cattle set a steady tone for the week ending August 3. Well, sort of. The weighted average price for the Five Area region was mostly steady to just a little higher with a little more cash sales volume but there were smaller numbers of early sales that were lower priced.
In addition, the market is showing the effect of very current on-feed numbers, especially in the north, where prices are showing a differential to southern states. While packers still hold a degree of leverage, tighter cattle numbers and continued lower carcass weights are keeping some wind under the wings of live prices.
Looking first a volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 244,397 head, compared with about 263,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 79,840 head, which compares with about 72,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 46,000 head for the week. Packers have 226,000 head lined up for August. National cash sales for the week included about 23,000 head of 15- to 30-=day delivery but also packers also had 5,000 head from the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending August 3 was $113.82 per cwt, which was 14 cents higher and very close to steady.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $184.30 per cwt, 93 cents higher. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $182.01, 18 cents higher. The Five Area region includes Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa-Minnesota. These states produce around 80% of the fed cattle marketed in the country.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 626,000 head and that compares with 624,000 head the same week last year. Year to date, the current estimated harvest total is more than 256,000 higher than last year and continues to include larger numbers of fed heifers.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending July 20 was 866 pounds, 1 pound higher than the previous week but still running well behind the same week last year when weights notched 872 pounds. For comparison, last year’s weight was 5 pounds higher than the week prior.
The bigger change in carcass weights was with heifers. Heifer carcass weights jumped 4 pounds for the week this year.
The Choice-Select spread was $24.10 on Friday, August 2, compared with $23.83 the previous week and a $7.66 spread last year. The higher spreads this year are definitely helped by much higher-priced Choice rib and loin primals, brought on by greener cattle being offered for harvest.