Uncertainty has gripped cattle feeders, traders, truck drivers and just about everybody who’s part of the fed cattle complex since the Tyson Finney County fire shut the plant indefinitely. Given that the plant processed approximately 5,600 cattle per day, which represents around 5% of the beef processed in the U.S. and nearly a quarter of cattle processing in Kansas, the uncertainty was certainly warranted.
But, while the market reacted as expected following the fire, it is beginning to rebound. For the week ending August 24, cash prices ticked just a little higher but went much higher on dressed prices. In addition, cash sales numbers were also a little higher.
The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 265,231 head, compared with about 276,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 55,768 head, compared to about 44,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 55,000 head this week. Packers had 226,000 head contracted for August and have 244,000 head lined up for September. The cash sales this week included about 9,580 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 4,000 head from the previous week. So that is two weeks of lower numbers which normally creates a little more active bidding.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Aug. 24 was $107.12 per cwt, 44 cents higher than the week prior.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $175.34 per cwt, $4.39 higher.
The Five-Area weighted average formula price was $175.80 per cwt, $4.95 lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 654,000 head, which was 12,000 head higher than the week when the Finney County plant was shut down late in the week. That compared to 642,000 head the same week last year. No doubt more plants are currently running two shifts on Saturday.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending August 10 was 878 pounds, which was 6 pounds higher than the previous week but still behind last year, when weights notched 881 pounds. Last year’s carcass weight increased 1 pound from the week before.
The Choice-Select spread was $24.81 on the week, compared to $25.43 the previous week and a $9.50 spread last year. The wide spread reflects how current feedyards are in their marketings, with fewer Choice cattle going to town. That, in turn, is reflected in the wholesale market. The spread is definitely helped again by much higher Choice rib and loin primal prices this year than last year.