“Tis the season for gifting and cattle feeders will take all the presents that the cattle market will offer. The cash market for finished cattle was mostly $3-$4 per cwt higher for the week ending Dec. 24, settling at $115-$116 in the Southern and Northern plains. Iowa and Minnesota ended the week at $113-$115, which made them $5-$7 higher, allowing the region to catch up with other areas.
Dressed carcass prices were $180-$181, $5-$6 higher than the week before.
The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region, which includes the major central feeding areas, was $115.14 per cwt, compared with $111.39 the previous week, which was $3.75 higher.
The cash dressed steer price was $179.79, compared to $174.13 the previous week.
The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 105,244 head, compared with about 71,000 the previous week.
Five Area formula sales totaled 167,425 head, compared with about 171,000 the previous week. The five area average formula price was $176.66, compared with $179.38 the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvested was about 43,000 head, compared with 60,000 head the previous week. Packers have over 226,000 head of forward contracts available for December and about 219,000 head for January.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Dec. 10 was 5 pounds lower at 908 pounds, compared with 909 pounds last year, which keeps it below year-ago levels. The five year average steer carcass weight is 884 pounds, so we are still utilizing cheaper feed costs to produce more total tonnage.
The Choice-Select spread was $10.83 on Friday, $2.71 lower than the week prior but higher than the $8.16 spread last year. The spread drops fast this time of the year because demand and prices for the daily spot Choice rib dropped 72 cents in the last two weeks and the demand for the round and chuck increases which are less dependent on being Choice. The daily spot Choice round primal has jumped 23 cents in the past two weeks.