Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was at a standstill in the Northern Plains and the Southern Plains through Tuesday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Trade in the western Corn Belt was inactive on very light demand.
Heavy snow in parts of Nebraska and Kansas could help push trade to later in the week.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 44¢ higher Tuesday, supported by rising wholesale beef values.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.33 higher Tuesday afternoon at $229.06/cwt. Select was $1.12 higher at $217.33.
Feeder Cattle futures, however, closed an average of $1.80 lower, pressured by another day of sharply higher grain futures.
Corn futures closed 11¢ to 20¢ higher through Sep ‘21, 2¢ to 4¢ higher through Jly ’22 and then mostly 2¢ higher.
Soybean futures closed 17¢ to 26¢ higher through Jan ‘22 and then 11¢ to 16¢ higher.
Major U.S. financial indices closed marginally lower Tuesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 22 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 5 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 9 points.
If recent data is any indication, the U.S. likely started 2021 with fewer beef cows than last year.
“On Thursday, the monthly Livestock Slaughter report revealed what many industry analysts have been watching all year,” say analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). “The 2020 preliminary Federally Inspected (FI) steer slaughter was near 3% below the previous year and over 4% below the three-year average. Heifer slaughter was nearly 4% below a year ago and nearly 3% larger than the three-year average.”
Further, AMS analysts explain 2020 FI beef cow slaughter was 2% more than the previous year and 9% more than the three-year average.
“The estimates for the feedlot mix Jan. 1, 2021 were 61.85% steers and 38.15% heifers. This is up slightly from these same estimates in October 2020 and very near the feedlot mix reported in January 2020,” says Josh Maples, Extension livestock economist at Mississippi State University, in the latest issue of In the Cattle Markets. “The percentage of heifers in the feedlot mix trended up from 2015-2019 as a result of the cattle cycle, but 2020 quarterly totals were slightly lower than 2019, due in part to the feedlot disruptions in the spring and summer.”
Depending on the economist, estimates are for the beef cow herd to be 0.5-1.0% less year over year.
USDA’s Cattle report, providing Jan. 1 estimates of the U.S. cattle inventory will be published Friday afternoon.