Cash prices for fed cattle rallied the week ending Nov. 27, particularly on the Southern Plains. Feedyards are current for the moment and will likely stay so for the next several months. But bigger numbers are a reality that the market will need to deal with as we go through 2019.
That means, just as was true this year, that strong consumer demand here at home and continued growth in export markets are critical for all beef producers going forward. For now, though, packers and retailers will need product for the Christmas season, which bodes well for the beef complex.
The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 212,915 head, compared with about 223,789 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 119,289 head, compared with about 87,409 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 48,000 head this week and packers have about 205,000 head for November. The national cash sales this week included 30,958 head of 15- to 30-day delivery, along with 22,095 head previous week.
Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $115.39 per cwt. compared with $113 the previous week. That makes prices on average $2.39 higher for the week. But as noted above, some regions we several dollars higher.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $181.89 per cwt, compared with $177.38 the previous week, which was $4.51 higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $182.48 per cwt, compared with $183.81 the previous week, making it $1.33 lower.
The Friday estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 570,000 head, but was upgraded to 573,000 head on Monday. That compares with 575,000 head the same week last year. The year-to-date total for federally inspected harvest is approximately 690,000 head higher than last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Nov. 10 was 904 pounds, 5 pounds higher than the previous week and slightly higher than the 902 pounds the same week last year. This week and the previous week together were 9 pounds higher, wiping out the recent drop in carcass weights and actually reaching the top that was set last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $15.34 on Friday, exactly the same as the previous week but quite a bit lower than the $23.14 spread last year.