If you’re a nervous, emotional sort, then the fed cattle market isn’t the place for you. Volatility rules the day in the fed cattle market, and steady hand with a long-term perspective may be what it takes to handle the ups and downs.
Take this week, for example. Just when the trade was resigned to waiting out the annual summer slump, the cash market for fed cattle took a surprising jump for the week ending July 7, shooting up $5 to $6 per cwt as packers found themselves needing to have plenty of cattle lined up.
While that’s great news for cattle feeders, the summer slump in prices is ultimately inevitable. Last year, prices got steady then improved some until August when it collapsed again. Will history repeat itself? Time will tell.
In the meantime, the volume of cattle moving in the cash market remains positive. The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 219,854 head, compared with about 253,493 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 158,153 head, compared with about 110,690 head the previous week.
The national cash sales included about 26,200 head of 15- to 30-day delivery, which was up about 6,000 from the previous week. Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 25,000 head. Packers have only about 135,000 head of forward contracts for July.
Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $112.63 per cwt, compared with $106.87 the previous week, which was $5.76 higher for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $178.77 per cwt, compared with $169.90 the previous week, up $8.87 per cwt.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $174.46 per cwt, compared with $179.40 the previous week, making it $4.94 lower. That’s typical for cattle sold on a formula, as the formula price runs a week behind the cash market.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 565,000 head, compared with 547,000 head the same week last year. The year to date total harvest is about 480,000 head higher than last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending June 23 was 858 pounds, which was up 2 pounds from the previous week but similar to the 855 pounds the same week last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $9.32 on Friday, compared with $13.39 the previous week and a $16.33 spread last year.