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Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices lose ground

Fed Cattle Recap
The cash market was $1 to $2 lower while volume increased slightly.

The cash market for fed cattle continues to search for solid footing as it adjusts to the reality of being down a major fed cattle plant. It will find that solid ground because that’s what markets do—ration supply and demand. Everyone is anxiously waiting.

For the week ending August 31, the Five Area average feedlot trades were mostly $1-$2 per cwt lower even though many people thought it would be much lower and cash sales numbers were a little higher.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 269,074 head, compared with about 265,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 57,145 head compared to about 55,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 57,000 head this week. 

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending August 31 was $105.59 per cwt, which was $1.53 lower.     

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $171.52, which was $3.82 lower.  

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $173.02 per cwt, which was $2.78 lower.  

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 644,000 head, which compares with 645,000 head the same week last year.  

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending August 17 was 881 pounds, 3 pounds higher than the previous week but still below the 886 pounds the same week last year.

Carcass weights are making the normal increase that takes place every year at this time, but are staying not only below last year but also well below the previous four years. 

Another big item is that the federally inspected slaughter numbers have included bigger numbers of heifers that have also been increasing in weight. However, heifer carcasses weigh less—809 pounds for the same week. This lower weight produces less total volume of product.

The Choice-Select spread was $19.50 for the week, compared with $24.81 the previous week and an $8.42 spread last year.   


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