Is the coronavirus, now called Covid-19, the next black swan for the cattle market? As cattle feeders look back on life before the spread of the deadly disease, the week ending Feb. 22 may be worth noting.
That’s because the feedlot cattle trades for the week were almost $1 per cwt higher on average and cash sales volume was also higher than the previous week. As this is being written, however, both the virus and the panic it is causing are spreading and markets worldwide are falling. Stay tuned.
Looking first at volume for the week ending Feb. 22, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 243,910 head, compared with about 249,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 74,778 head, compared with about 56,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 40,000 head for the week. The packers have 193,000 head lined up for March along with 233,000 head for April. National cash sales for the week included 9,827 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 23,000 from the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Feb. 22 was $119.71 per cwt, which was 81 cents higher than the week prior. Last year for the same week it was $126.36, which was over $1 higher than the week before.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $190.07 per cwt, which was 20 cents lower.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $192.73 per cwt, which was $2.15 lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week ending Feb. 22 was 628,000 head, which compares with 581,000 head the same week last year. During the last six weeks this year, total harvest is about 156,000 head higher than the same six weeks last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Feb. 8 was 903 pounds, 6 pounds higher than the previous week and higher than the 885 pounds the same week last year which was steady with the week prior.
The Choice-Select spread was $3.39 on Friday, Feb. 21, compared with $2.38 the previous week and a $7.04 spread last year.