The rally in the cattle markets continued this week with solid gains in both cash fed cattle and the boxed beef cutout.
The four major packers were all bidding at least $110, with a handful of cattle selling at $111 in Texas on Thursday. Cattle feeders held on to asking prices of $111 on Friday, but the lower trading CME futures prices forced them to accept $110. Trade was active with a few more cattle selling in the North than in the South. Price at $110 put the fed cattle market back to a level not seen since early June when prices were $112.
Dressed prices in the north were from $172 to $175, generally $4 to $7 higher.
Of critical importance to the current cattle market is the decline in carcass weights. Average carcass weights declined 10 pounds in USDA’s latest report indicating that feedyards are regaining currentness after the backlog of heavy cattle the past few months.
Friday morning’s Choice boxed beef price was quoted at $226.44 per cwt., up $13 from the previous Friday, and up $18 from two weeks ago. Select boxed beef was quoted at $209.81 per cwt., up $12.05 from last week. Buyers were said to be active in the market as demand increases seasonally.
Estimated cattle slaughter was 653,000 head, versus 663,155 head last year.
December live cattle futures closed down Friday $2.05 at $109.925, and for the week gained $1.275. January feeder cattle futures fell $2.85 at $137.875, but for the week rose $1.95.
Steers and heifers sold at auction $2 to $5 higher this week, with instances of some individual livestock auctions reporting $7 to $10 higher, according to Agricultural Marketing Service reporters. Demand was good for steer and heifer calves as well as true yearlings.
“Calf movement in the Northern Plains is in full swing as drought conditions have brought cattle to town earlier than normal,” AMS said. “With the earlier time period of marketing their calves, those drought-stricken ranchers are selling fewer pounds which will lead to fewer dollars. Most buyers continue to seek calves with fall pre-condition shots.”
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