Spring doldrums? Not hardly, but it may seem like it. The weather certainly hasn’t been a friend to cattle feeders. And the weather may be keeping the grill masters looking through the window forlornly at the grill they haven’t yet fired up.
Whatever the reason, the cash market for fed cattle seems in no hurry to climb much higher. Packers have plenty of cattle around them and while the ongoing bad weather continues to shave weights, record on-feed numbers may keep the leverage in packers’ hands.
The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 240,803 head, compared with about 228,828 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 73,836 head, compared with about 81,043 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 57,000 head for the week ending March 23. The packers have 221,000 head lined up for March along with 303,000 head for April.
National cash sales this week included 18,553 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and about 21,000 head the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for week ending March 23 for the Five Area region was $128.96 per cwt, compared with $127.14 the previous week, which was $1.82 higher for the week. See the graph below for a four-year comparison.
The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $207.64 per cwt, compared with $204.25 the previous week, making it $3.39 higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $205.27 per cwt, compared with $205.51 the previous week, making it 24 cents lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 631,000 head. That compares with 611,000 head the same week last year.
The latest average National steer carcass weight for the week ending March 19 was 871 pounds, 3 pounds lower than the previous week and 10 pounds below the 881 pounds the same week last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $10.45 on Friday, compared with $9.65 the previous week and a $6.69 spread last year.