Cattle feeders have had to look hard to find any upside to the wacky weather they’ve endured. If there is one, it’s in the disparity in prices from north to south. Southern Plains cattle feeders have plenty of cattle on feed. That, combined with the Tyson plant down for the count, means they have plenty of supply to work through. That’s weighing on their price.
Northern cattle feeders, some of whom are still battling the weather, have fewer cattle on feed. That supply shortage gives them a market uptick. So, while there was some difference in cash prices for fed cattle from north to south, things average out to a better week overall, with weighted average prices about 50 cents higher.
Looking first at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 250,149 head for the week ending Oct. 19, compared with about 253,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 63,052 head, compared with about 71,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 43,000 head for the week. The packers have 213,000 head for October along with 209,000 head lined up for November. National cash sales this week included 22,305 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 20,000 head from the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Oct. 19 for the Five Area region was $109.73 per cwt, 52 cents higher than the previous week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $174.31, which was $2.54 higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $174.14, $4.02 higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 642,000 head, which compares to 632,000 head the same week last year. The year-to-date total is about 280,000 head higher than last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Oct. 5 was 899 pounds, 1 pound higher than the previous week but still lagging the 903 pounds the same week last year. Carcass weights typically trend higher this time of year—this week last year, weights increased 3 pounds from the previous week.
The Choice-Select spread was $25 on Friday, reflecting the higher number of lower-grading carcasses in the slaughter mix. That compare with $26.98 the previous week and a $13.69 spread last year.