Fed Cattle Recap | Cash market sustains momentum

Fed cattle traded mostly $1 higher with a few regions posting even better gains.

Prices and volume alike for fed cattle continue to chop back and forth but so far remain at sustainable levels. There’s a lot of talk and concern about increasing supplies of fed cattle in the months to come, but for now at least, the market is efficiently handling the situation.

For the week ending March 17, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 205,220 head, compared with about 205,758 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 104,711 head, compared with about 124,928 head the previous week.                                                   

Most of the cash sales are 1-14 day delivery, but we’re seeing a trend where the packers negotiate more days. The national cash sales this week include more than 24,800 head of 15-30 day delivery along with more than 19,000 the previous week. 

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 595,000 head, compared with 589,000 head the same week last year. The current year to date total is about 146,000 head higher than last year.

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 38,000 head, compared with about 38,000 head the previous week. The packers have about 259,000 head of forward contracts for April along with big 15-30-day cash sales for April. 

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $127.91 per cwt, compared with $126.79 the previous week, which was $1.12 higher. The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $205.47, compared with $203.88 the previous week, $1.59 higher.

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $202.53, compared to $203.40 the previous week, making it 87 cents lower.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending March 3 was 883 pounds, steady with the week before and higher than the 876 pounds the same week last year.               

The Choice-Select spread was $8.73 on Friday, compared with $6.88 the previous week and an $8.95 spread last year. 


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