Down and down she goes and where she stops, nobody knows. That is, unfortunately, the mantra that cattle feeders have experienced as late summer rolls along, with the cash trade for fed cattle continuing to skid lower.
Part of the skid is due to greater supply. Five Area formula sales volume, which includes the major feeding areas of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, totaled 196,201 head for the week ending Sept. 2, compared with about 221,699 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 62,261 head, compared with about 74,958 head the previous week.
However, as we’ve reported earlier, packers have bought almost 100,000 head cash cattle for 15-30 day delivery in addition to the normal 1-14 delivery during the past three weeks. Those cattle would be available now. The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 622,000 head, compared with 613,000 head the same week last year, 9,000 head over last year.
Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvest was about 43,000 head, compared with about 53,000 head the previous week. But packers have about 248,000 head of forward contract cattle available for September and 217,000 head for October.
The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $104.66 per cwt, compared with $106.78 the previous week, for a decline of $2.12.The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $165.71, compared with $169.70 the previous week, for a skid of $3.99.
The Five Area average formula price was $174.20, compared with $181.51 the previous week. The weekly weighted average Five Area region formula dairy-bred price, which includes many Holsteins but also other breeds, was $163.84, compared with $170.91 the previous week.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Aug. 19 was 2 pounds higher at 884 pounds, which compares with 893 pounds the same week last year.
The Choice-Select spread was only 70 cents on Friday, compared with $3.02 the previous week and $4.02 last year. However, the spread normally starts to increase in September, helped by cooler weather and grilling.
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 continues to work with cattle trade analysis.