Will winter ever end? That’s got to be the main question on everyone’s mind, especially beef producers in the Northern Plains and Midwest. Even in the Southern Plains, snow and wet conditions are better, but cold continues to grip the region.
The winter-that-never-ends has had a significant effect on the fed cattle market, with reduced carcass weights and lower beef production. And it’s been tough on the cattle and cattle feeders with higher costs of gain as cattle use more energy to stay warm. Spring will be a welcome reprieve—if it ever comes.
Looking at the volume of trade for the week ending Feb. 16, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 228,498 head, compared with about 235,143 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 79,297 head, compared with about 76,000 head the previous week.
The Five Area region is comprised of Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa-Minnesota. These states market about 80% of the fed cattle sold in the U.S.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 35,000 head this week and the packers had about 167,000 head for February and 192,000 for March along with 267,000 head for April. March and April are both over 20,000 head higher than last year. National cash sales this week included 6,725 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 9,800 head previous week.
Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $124.96 per cwt, compared with $124.98 the previous week, 2 cents lower for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $199.92 per cwt, compared with $199.88 the previous week, 4 cents higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $199.11 per cwt, compared with $197.79 the previous week, making it $1.32 higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 596,000 head and that compares with 602,000 head the same week last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Jan. 19 was 886 pounds, down 3 pounds from the previous week down significantly from 891 pounds the same week last year, so cold weather and storms keeps pushing weights lower. However, declining carcass weights is a normal event until mid or late May.
The Choice-Select spread was $5.86 on Friday, compared with $4.18 the previous week and a $4.76 spread last year.