Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Christmas season is officially in full swing. Plenty of turkey and stuffing were digested, and more than a little beef as well.
As we approach Christmas, a bigger beef consumption holiday than Turkey Day, the fed cattle market continues to show strength. Packers are scrambling to fill holiday orders from their retail and foodservice customers, which means fed cattle harvest should remain robust for a while yet.
Looking first a volume, the Five Area formula sales volume for the week ending Nov. 30 totaled 223,898 head, compared with about 239,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 51,310 head for the holiday-shortened week, compared with about 87,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 37,000 head for the week. The packers have 164,000 head lined up for December. National cash sales for the week included 18,497 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 27,000 head from the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Nov. 30 was $118.21 per cwt, which was $2.25 higher than the previous week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $186.83 per cwt, $3.24 higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $186.37 per cwt, which was $1.49 higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 556,000 head during this holiday week, which compares with 641,000 head the same week last year, which was not the holiday week.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Nov. 16 was 912 pounds, 4 pounds higher than the previous week. The same week last year saw carcasses averaging 900 pounds, 4 pounds lower than the week prior.
The Choice-Select spread was $21.78 on Friday, Nov. 29, compared with $21.25 the previous week and a $14.20 spread last year.