Is it seasonal trends? Is it robust beef demand? Or is it both, with a few other factors thrown in for good measure?
The answer is yes to all the above. And the result is that cash prices for fed cattle jumped an impressive $3 to $4 per cwt for the week ending Oct. 27.
Even more impressive is that those prices were realized on big volumes. However, a trend to keep an eye on is, again for the week, packers bought quite a few long-day cattle.
The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 130,954 head, compared with about 91,729 head the previous week. The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 219,361 head, compared with about 226,927 the previous week.
We report Five Area data because that region—Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa—produce more than 80% of the fed cattle in the nation.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 36,000 head for the week and packers have about 202,000 head for November. The national cash sales this week included a very big 45,740 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 48,000 head the previous week.
Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region for week ending Oct. 27 was $113.81 per cwt, compared with $110.05 the previous week, which was $ 3.76 higher for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $179.70 per cwt, compared with $173.84 the previous week, which was $5.86 higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $177.20, compared with $177.55 the previous week, making it 35 cents lower. This is typical, as formula prices lag the cash market by a week.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 633,000 head, compared with 625,000 head the same week last year. The current federally inspected harvest total is 653,000 head higher than last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Oct. 13 was 899 pounds, which was down 4 pounds from the previous week but 3 pounds higher than the 896 pounds noted the same week last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $14.64 on Friday, compared with $13.69 the previous week and a $10.82 spread last year. This week’s increase was helped by the daily Choice rib primal that jumped $14 higher again this week and $36 higher since the end of September. That has had a big impact on the cutout along with feedlot cattle sales this week.