Steers and heifers sold $2 lower to $2/cwt. higher in the North Central and South Central part of the country, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). They traded $2-$5 higher in the Southeast.
“Ranchers are gearing up for grazing season as many areas have ample moisture for this time of year,” say AMS analysts. “Order buyers were out in full force with fewer receipts at sales across the country and feedyards were willing to take on replacement cattle in spite of muddy pens in the major feeding regions.”
Although early grass fever is providing some lift to calf prices, Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee says feeder cattle prices are discounted relative other to other cattle classes.
“The reasoning for seemingly undervalued feeder cattle may be due to muddy pens and unfavorable feeding conditions, but it is also likely linked to cattle feeders lack of confidence that the finished cattle market will remain strong through the second and third quarters of 2019,” Griffith says in his weekly market comments.
Other than an average of $1.54 lower on either end of the board, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 43¢ lower week to week on Friday.
Fed Cattle Trade Steady
Although carcass weights continue to tumble beneath the weight of wet winter weather, and front-end supplies seem snug, packers and feeders continued their weekly standoff until after late afternoon Friday.
Negotiated cash fed cattle trade ended up mainly steady on a live basis last week at $125/cwt. in the Southern Plains and Nebraska; unevenly steady in the western Corn Belt at $124-$126. Dressed trade was steady in Nebraska at $200 and steady to $1 lower in the western Corn Belt at $199-200.
As for recent carcass weights, steer dressed weights were 883 lbs. for the week ending Jan. 12, according to the Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection reports from USDA. That was an extraordinary 13 lbs. less than a year earlier. Dressed heifer weights were 825 lbs., which was 6 lbs. less than the same week a year earlier.
Week to week on Friday, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 41¢ lower across the front half of the board (2¢ to 75¢ lower) and then an average of 22¢ higher (5¢ to 65¢ higher).
Consumer beef demand continues to lift Choice wholesale beef values higher year over year.
Choice boxed beef cutout was $1.50 higher week to week on Friday at $216.85/cwt.—$7.81 more year over year. Select was 18¢ lower week to week at $210.99—$5.85 higher than a year earlier.
“This week’s Valentine’s Day holiday is one of the top three holidays for the public eating out, with many of those customers choosing beef or a surf and
turf for their entrees,” explain AMS analysts. “Moving out of February and into March, a beef rally is expected to happen, and with that should come increased fed cattle prices if the trickle down effect comes to fruition.”
“The Choice cutout price has been supported through the first month and a half of 2019 because middle meat (steak) demand has remained relatively strong compared to end meats or roast type cuts,” Griffith says. “The winter months are when end meats experience their strongest demand and few consumers place much price differential between quality grades of end meats. This is why the Choice-Select spread tends to narrow during the winter months.”
Friday to Friday Change*
Weekly Auction Receipts
CME Feeder Index
|CME Feeder Index*||Feb. 14||Change|
*Thursday-to Thursday for CME Feeder Index
Cash Stocker and Feeder
|600-700 lbs.||$160.24||+ 0.80|
|700-800 lbs.||$147.81||+ 0.19|
|800-900 lbs.||$139.87||– 2.53|
|500-600 lbs.||$168.33||+ 1.41|
|600-700 lbs.||$151.19||– 0.33|
|700-800 lbs.||$140.66||– 1.56|
|400-500 lbs.||$164.40||+ 4.40|
|500-600 lbs.||$154.00||+ 5.28|
|600-700 lbs.||$142.35||+ 3.75|
(AMS National Weekly Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary)
Wholesale Beef Value
|Boxed Beef (p.m.)||Feb. 15 ($/cwt)||Change|
|Ch-Se Spread||$5.86||+ $1.68|
|Feeder Cattle||Feb. 15||Change|
|Jan ’20||$146.025||– $1.575|
|Live Cattle||Feb. 15||Change|
|Feb ’19||$126.625||– $0.750|
|Feb ’20||$119.500||+ $0.100|
|Corn futures||Feb. 15||Change|
|Mar ’20||$4.082||– $0.004|
|Oil CME-WTI||Feb. 15||Change|
|Equity Indexes||Feb. 15||Change|
|Dow Industrial Average||25883.25||+ 776.92|
|S&P 500||2775.60||+ 67.72|
|Dollar (DXY)||96.92||+ 0.28|