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Fed Cattle Recap | Market flip-flops but shows seasonal strength

Cash fed cattle prices were $1 higher but fewer sales were reported.

If the old saw that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, get ready to hear the roar. However, if the old saw is indeed correct, the end of the winter of 2018-19 is in sight, and it can’t come soon enough.

Even when it does warm up and begin to dry out, the effects of the cold and snow on fed cattle will remain for a while. Lower live weights and lower carcass weights will reduce the total tonnage of beef for a while yet. How the market responds going into grilling season remains to be seen.

For the week ending Feb. 23, cash fed cattle traded more than $1 per cwt higher on average for the Five Area region and more than $2 higher for carcass prices, but the trade saw much lower cash sales numbers.   

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 222,911 head, compared with about 228,498 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 44,930 head, compared with about 79,297 head the previous week. 

National cash sales this week included 5,830 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 6,700 head the previous week.   

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Feb. 23 was $126.36 per cwt,  compared with $124.96 the previous week, $1.40 higher for the week. 

The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $201.97 per cwt, compared with $199.92 the previous week, $2.05 higher. 

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $200.51 per cwt, compared with $199.11 the previous week, making it $1.40 higher.

The Five Area region is comprised of Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa-Minnesota. This region markets more than 80% of the fed cattle sold nationally.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 577,000 head and that compares with 575,000 head the same week last year. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight was 885 pounds, which was down 3 pounds from the previous week as well as the same week last year. So, while cold weather and storms keep pushing weights below last year, we’re still running very close to last year’s weights lately.

The Choice-Select spread was $7.04 on Friday compared with $5.86 the previous week and a $5.55 spread last year.  


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