Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was at a standstill through Monday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Last week, live prices were at $111/cwt. in the Southern Plains, $110-$111 in Nebraska and $109-$110 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade was at $172-$174.
More narrowly, last week’s five-area direct average steer price was $110.27/cwt. on a live basis, which was 70¢ higher than the previous week, according to USDA data. The average steer price in the beef was $1.67 higher at $173.37.
Cattle futures closed mixed on Monday, amid month-end position squaring and some support from weaker grain futures.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 31¢ lower except for an average of 7¢ higher in the back two contracts.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 75¢ higher, from 55¢ higher at the back to $1.22 higher in spot Jan.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 83¢ higher Monday afternoon at $243.68/cwt. Select was $1.75 higher at $222.43.
Corn futures closed mostly 5¢ to 7¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed 14¢ to 23¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed lower Monday, likely with some month-end positioning and profit taking.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 271 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 16 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 7 points.
“Exactly what to expect in fed cattle markets in the coming months depends on numerous factors including: the demographics of the feedlot population (both size and gender), feed costs, the time of the year, weather conditions and regional impacts,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments.
Starting with gender of feedlot placements, Peel points out the latest quarterly inventory report indicated steers represented 62.4% of the feedlot inventory and heifers comprised 37.6%. At the same time a year earlier, the inventory was 60.8% steers and 39.2% heifers.
As for weights, Peel says 22% of the cattle placed on feed over the last six months weighed less than 600 lbs., 18% weighed 600-700 lbs., 22% weighed 700-800 lbs., 23% were 800-900 lbs. and 15% weighed more than 900 lbs.
“Feedlot placement weight is related to finished weight of fed cattle. However, the relationship is not one to one,” Peel explains. “For both steers and heifers in the typical range of placement weights, a 1 lb. increase in placement weight results in 0.5 lb. of additional finished weight.”
Based on data from Kansas State University’s Focus on Feedlots, Peel says average daily gain (ADG) each month so far this year is higher year over year for steers and heifers. Steer ADG averaged 3.53 lbs. the last six months; 3.11 lbs. for heifers. Feed efficiency improved year over year, too.
“Feedlots will manage and balance these and many other factors as they deal with coming winter weather, rising feed costs, the mix of steers and heifers and the availability of feeder cattle of various sizes,” Peel says.