While packers are still in the market for fed cattle, Christmas and New Year’s buying is about wrapped up and they have plenty of cattle around them. That, coupled with upcoming holiday-shortened weeks to run the plants, have given packers cause to step back a little.
The feedlot cattle cash prices were about steady for the week ending Dec. 15, but the volume of cash sales dropped tremendously and was about 46,000 head lower than the previous week.
The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 225,413 head, compared with about 211,553 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 60,044 head, compared with about 105,959 head the previous week, so a big drop there.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 38,000 head this week. The national cash sales this week included only 6,789 head of 15- to 30-day delivery, but packers had almost 70,000 head the previous two weeks which were no doubt utilized a lot this week.
Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $118.14 per cwt, compared with $118.11 the previous week, which was only 3 cents higher for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $187.62 per cwt, compared with $185.99 the previous week, which was $1.63 higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $189.32, compared with $187.48 the previous week, making it $1.84 higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 654,000 head and that compares with 628,000 head the same week last year. The year-to-date total is approximately 750,000 head higher than last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Dec. 1 was 899 pounds, 3 pounds lower than the previous week and and 4 pounds lower than the 903 pounds the same week last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $7.82 on Friday, compared with $13.79 the previous week and an $18.62 spread last year.
The big daily Choice rib primal decline of $30 dollars and increasing prices for round and chuck products, which sometimes include higher Select prices for the same products, pushed the spread lower. When home cooking switches to more roast products this time of the year, the spread normally drops some.