The wait, it appears, is over. The wait being wondering how long it will take to clean up the long-fed cattle that were still on feed in the aftermath of this spring’s packing plant shutdowns and slowdowns because of the coronavirus.
The market is indicating that most of those cattle are gone. Grading percentages in the Southern Plains are beginning to slip and exceptionally good beef demand in September kept packers running at a long trot.
In all, analysts predict fed cattle prices will stay strong through the end of the year. Given good feedyard demand for heavyweight feeders, the market for calves over 600 pounds should remain strong as well. Keep a sharp eye on the market for buying and selling opportunities.
The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 258,933 head for the week ending Oct. 3, compared with about 239,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 101,489 head for the week, compared with about 103,000 head the previous week and the packers still have big numbers of 15- to 30-day delivery to use again.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 37,000 head for the week. The nationally reported 15- to 30-day delivery purchases this week were 37,535 head along with 33,119 head the previous week, so big numbers for many weeks.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Oct. 3 was $107.12 per cwt, which was $2.07 higher compared to the previous week. The same week last year, it was $107.30, which was about $2 higher than the week prior.
The current Five Area weighted average live formula price was $106.47 per cwt for the week with over 83,000 head, which was about 58,000 head higher than the previous week. So we’ve had two weeks of very big numbers.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $167.70, which was $2.81 higher. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $167.71, which was $2.83 higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was reported at 665,000 head, which compares with 645,000 head the same week last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Sept. 19 was 919 pounds, 1 pound lower compared with the previous week. The same week last year, weights were 896 pounds, 5 pounds higher compared with the previous week.
The Choice-Select spread ended the week at $11.27 on Friday, Oct. 2, compared with $12.36 the previous week and a $25.04 spread last year.