As cattle feeders roll into a summer unlike any other, cash prices for fed cattle are still trying to find their footing in the fast-moving currents of an unprecedented market. The cutout price may have found its range, now at 2019 levels after falling quickly from its record highs.
With the cutout now trading at normal levels, will the rest of the market complex find its bearings? Likely so, but it will take time for some degree of normalcy to return to the beef complex.
Weighing on the market now is a very large supply of beef—with the backlog of overweight, long-fed cattle and harvest levels returning to normal, we’re actually producing more tonnage than a year ago. Wholesale and retail prices will have to adjust to that reality to keep beef moving.
Looking at volume for the week ending June 13, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 238,647 head, compared with about 194,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 82,379 head, compared to about 123,000 head the previous week.
The nationally reported cattle sold on a 15- to 30-day delivery was 9,938 head along with 15,719 head the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending June 13 was $104.47 per cwt, which was $7.92 lower compared with the previous week. The same week last year, it was $113.62, which was about steady with the week prior. However, the current Five Area weighted average live formula price was $118.29 for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $166.40 per cwt, which was $12.64 lower. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $185.78, $4.30 lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week was 658,000 head, which compares with 669,000 head the same week last year, so getting very close to last year’s levels since the plants are using many medical safety interventions.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending May 30 was 891 pounds, 3 pounds lower than the previous week but still an astounding 49 pounds above the 842 pounds the same week last year. Recent Increasing slaughter cattle numbers are definitely helping to drop weights lower.
The Choice-Select spread was $11.37 on Friday, June 12, compared with $15.06 the previous week and a $19.47 spread last year.
Czerwien is a market reporter in Amarillo, Texas. From the heart of Cattle Feeding Country, Ed follows the fed cattle, feeder cattle, slaughter cow and wholesale markets to keep beef producers up-to-date on the market moves that affect them. He previously worked with USDA as a Market News Reporter. Ed is now semi-retired and continues to work with cattle trade analysis. The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.