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Fed Cattle Recap: Christmas brings higher prices

Fed Cattle Recap
Cash prices for fed cattle were $1 to mostly $2 higher on lower volume during the holiday week.

The fed cattle market didn’t blink in a holiday-shortened week, continuing its steady run-up. In a welcome turn of events, cattle feeders who stayed up to welcome 2020 did so because they were looking forward to better prices and not because they couldn’t sleep for worrying about the market.


The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 186,590 head for the week ending Dec. 28, compared with about 273,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 48,782 head, compared with about 59,000 head the previous week. 


The Five Area region consists of Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa Minnesota. These states market around 80% of the nation’s fed cattle.

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 21,000 head for the week. The packers have 193,000 head for January. National cash sales included 14,192 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 26,000 head from the previous week.  

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Dec. 28 was $122.28 per cwt, which was $1.92 higher. The same week last year it was $122.52

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $195.22 per cwt, $3.37 higher than the week prior. 

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $192.43, which was 79 cents higher.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 468,000 head, which compares with 442,000 head the same week last year. The year-to-date total estimated federally inspected slaughter is about 388,000 head higher than last year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Dec. 14 was 904 pounds, 2 pounds lower than the previous week and still running ahead of last year, when carcasses came in at 892 pounds.  

The Choice-Select spread has lost its momentum in the post-holiday doldrums, hitting $4.39 on Friday, Dec. 27, compared with $8.67 the previous week and a $6.89 spread last year. By comparison, the Choice-Select spread was $17.26 on Friday, Dec. 6, compared with $21.78 the previous week and a $13.79 spread the same week last year. 

Here’s wishing everyone a prosperous and profitable New Year.



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