Fed Cattle Recap

Fed Cattle Recap | Steady money on lower volume

The finished cattle trade was steady to firm in some areas but also showed some weakness.

Lower volume in the cash trade marked the week ending August 5, with the Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume at 79,251 head, compared with about 99,721 the previous week. The Five Area region includes the major feeding areas of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa.

Five Area formula sales totaled 197,782 head, compared with about 206,739 the previous week. Total estimated federally inspected cattle harvest was up 7,000 head compared with the previous week, but the Five Area total formula and cash volume was down 29,000 head.                                        

Packer-owned cattle totaled 24,000 head. This figure normally runs 8,000 to 13,000 on a weekly basis and mainly consists of cattle bought ahead of time.

Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvest was about 44,000 head, which was 10,000 more than the 34,000 head the previous week. Packers had only about 139,000 head of forward contracts for July but now have over 226,000 head of forward contracts available for August and 245,000 for September. We can rely on more contracts as packers look to ensure a steady flow of harvest numbers.      

The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $117.30, compared with $117.16 the previous week, only 14 cents higher. In contrast, the Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $187.36, compared with $187.48 the previous week, about 12 cents lower.

The Five Area average formula price was $191.05, compared with $192.95 the previous week, for a drop of $1.90. The Five Area formula price for dairy-influenced cattle averaged $182.02. These were mostly Holstein crosses but includes Jersey and other dairy crosses as well.             

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending July 22 was 3 pounds higher at 868 pounds, compared with 880 pounds last year. Summer isn’t over yet—we still have some heat-related slowdowns to contend with.

The Choice-Select spread was $6.30 on Friday, compared with $9.40 the previous week and $8.80 last year.  

Estimated total federally inspected cattle harvest was 634,000 head, compared with 583,000 the same week last year, which was 51,000 head higher than a year ago. The estimated year-to-date total is now over 1 million head higher than last year.


Czerwien is a market reporter in Amarillo, Texas. From the heart of Cattle Feeding Country, Ed follows the fed cattle, feeder cattle, slaughter cow and wholesale markets to keep beef producers up-to-date on the market moves that affect them. He previously worked with USDA as a Market News Reporter. Ed is now semi-retired and continues to work with cattle trade analysis. 


TAGS: Marketing
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