Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was $3.00-$4.50 lower on a live basis Wednesday at mostly $121 in Nebraska and at $122.00-$122.50/cwt. in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade was $3-$8 lower in Nebraska at $191-$192. It was $4-$10 lower in the western Corn Belt at $190-$196.
The majority of cattle—670 out of 863 head—sold in the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange auction for a weighted average price of $120, for delivery at 1-9 days.
Softer cash prices and wholesale beef values, along with continued pessimism about Chinese trade and the slow start to grilling season weighed on Cattle futures Wednesday.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.33 lower.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.56 lower.
Wholesale beef values were lower on Choice and sharply lower on Select with light demand and heavy offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 86¢ lower Wednesday afternoon at $223.01/cwt. Select was $4.34 lower at $207.49.
Other than 1¢ higher in the back contracts, Corn futures closed mostly 1¢ to 2¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed mostly 2¢ to 3¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed little changed Wednesday, retaining the previous session’s steep losses, tied to worries about the lack of U.S. trade resolution with China.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 2 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 4 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 20 points.
Seasonally increasing steer slaughter and carcass weights imply growing beef production heading into the summer, says David Anderson, Extension livestock economist at Texas A&M University.
Steer slaughter was up about 9% from the middle of March to mid-April—close to the five-year average—Anderson says, in the latest issue of In the Cattle Markets. So far this year steer slaughter is about 2.7% less than last year.
“Steer dressed weights normally decline until late May to early June,” Anderson explains. “Weights this year have followed that seasonal pattern, but have been below last year’s weights until the last couple of weeks. Weights averaged 857 lbs. for the last reported week, about same as last year.”
Conversely, Anderson points out fed heifer slaughter is 9% higher year over year—11% higher for the last four weeks. At the same time, he explains dairy cow slaughter has been the highest since the dairy herd buyout in the 1980s—more than 70,000 head per week in March.
“Dairy cow slaughter has finally resulted in milk production falling below a year ago, providing some hope for higher milk prices,” Anderson says. “Reduced dairy cow slaughter and higher cow beef cutout values may provide some hope for higher cull cow prices in coming weeks.”