Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was at a standstill in all major cattle feeding regions through Monday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Last week, live prices were $3-$4 lower in the Southern Plains at $182/cwt., $2-$5 lower in Nebraska at $185-$189 and $2-$4 lower in the western Corn Belt at $186-$188. Dressed prices were $4 lower in Nebraska at $296 and steady to $4 lower in the western Corn Belt at $294-$300.
The five-area direct weighted average fed steer price for the week was $3.83 lower at $184.92 on a live basis. The weighted average in the beef was $3.14 lower at $296.07.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.95 lower Monday afternoon at $340.14/cwt. Select was 9¢ lower at $310.76/cwt.
Futures markets and equity markets were closed Monday in observance of Juneteenth.
Despite recent week-to-week declines in Cattle futures, Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University notes cash prices should remain strong based on fundamentals.
“The cattle supply is unchanged from expectations, but drought concerns across the Plains and much of the Midwest are resulting in higher corn prices, which means a higher cost of gain in the feedlot,” Griffith explains in his weekly market comments. “At the same time, there appears to be continued inflationary concern as consumers are still paying more at the grocery store. Thus, there are some real concerns that could drive the cattle market lower than its current mark.”
Even though prices may decline some, Griffith points out $200/cwt. for a steer weighing 800 pounds would still be an historically high price.
“If drought conditions persist in the Corn Belt and the Plains then there may be much tougher decisions ahead than when to sell a group of calves,” Griffith says. “It cannot not be stressed enough that producers should maintain good culling practices in the cow herd. Just as calf prices are strong, so are slaughter cows. Calf prices will never be high enough to retain a cow that should be culled based on the typical culling criteria.”