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Fed Cattle Recap

Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices steady on better volume

Cash prices for fed cattle held their ground for the week ending July 22. Will that hold, given two bearish USDA reports? Time will tell.

The feedlot cattle trade held its own for the week ending July 22, with several regions topping out around $120 to $120.50 per cwt in the cash. That was an increase for the week, as prices started the week a little lower than that.

We had good volume last week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 116,360 head, compared with about 98,995 the previous week. 

Five Area formula sales totaled 205,963 head, compared with about 221,202 the previous week. Formulas typically account for very big harvest numbers.

The Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price was $119.33, compared with $119.51 the previous week, only 18 cents lower. However, the price was no doubt pulled down after two bearish reports were released Friday—the monthly Cattle on Feed report and USDA’s July 1 Cattle Inventory report.

The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $189.74, compared with $190.06 the previous week, about  32 cents lwr.

The Five Area average formula price was $192.15, compared with $191.86 the previous week, 29 cents higher.                      

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending July 8 was 7 pounds higher at 866 pounds, compared with 875 pounds last year. So we’re seeing carcass weights continuing to climb but still below last year. 

However, this is the time of the year that carcass weights normally continue to climb until late fall, even with some heat-related slowdowns at times. Normally, we’ll add over 50 pounds from the bottom to the top.

The Choice-Select spread was $12.11 on Friday, compared with $13.93 the previous week. That compares with a $10.52 spread last year.  

Estimated total federally-inspected cattle harvest was 622,000 head, compared with 597,000 the same week last year. Following the trend all year, last week’s total harvest was 25,000 head over last year. 

The estimated year-to-date total harvest is closing in on a million head over last year. And we’re only at half-time for the year. However, the previous week and also last week’s estimated harvest numbers were reduced a little by plant shutdowns due to storm damage.  

Czerwien is a market reporter in Amarillo, Texas. From the heart of Cattle Feeding Country, Ed follows the fed cattle, feeder cattle, slaughter cow and wholesale markets to keep beef producers up-to-date on the market moves that affect them. He previously worked with USDA as a Market News Reporter. Ed is now semi-retired and continues to work with cattle trade analysis.


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