The cash market for fed cattle continues to grind higher, making a big jump for the week ending Aug. 15. While northern feedlots still are leading the market, South Plains feedyards narrowed the price gap.
While plenty of long-fed cattle still remain at the feedbunk, cattle feeders are working to clean up the backlog. Beef demand remains good and retailers are aggressively buying ahead of the Labor Day weekend. We will soon begin to see the effects of the drop in placements this spring, another positive sign for the fed cattle market.
Looking at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume for the week ending Aug. 15 totaled 226,394 head, compared with about 252,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 109,200 head, compared with about 91,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 25,000 head for the week. The nationally reported 15- to 30-day delivery was 26,339 head along with 13,562 head the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Aug. 15 was $105.06 per cwt, which was $3.72 higher compared to the previous week. It was $106.68 the same week last year, which was about $6 lower in the wake of the Tyson packing plant fire. The current Five Area weighted average live formula price was $103.32 for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $168.04 per cwt, which was $4.84 higher. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $160.01, $2.74 higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest on Friday, Aug. 14, was reported at 640,000 head, which compares with 653,000 head the same week last year.
The latest average National steer carcass weight for the week ending Aug. 1 was 905 pounds, which was 2 pounds higher compared with the previous week. However, weights are still running significantly higher than a year ago. The same week last year, weights were 872 pounds, which was 3 pounds higher than the week prior.
The Choice-Select spread ended the week at $14.95 on Friday, Aug. 14, compared with $12.72 the previous week and a $25.43 spread last year.