Nationwide, calves and feeder cattle sold $1 to $3/cwt. higher last week, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Week to week on Friday, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $4.35 lower ($2.75 to $6.42 lower), not counting recently minted Jan.
“The current uptick in the market may be the beginning of the grass cattle run in prices that will extend into April,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “However, the positive price movement for grass cattle in the spring generally does not gain significant traction until the middle or late February. Thus, if this is the beginning of the spring calf run, then the current price increase may bode well for a strong spring market.”
The CME Feeder Cattle Index was $2.03 higher week to week on Thursday at $136.02.
Griffith adds continued strength in cash calf and feeder cattle prices requires ongoing support from the futures market. “The upside potential for 500-600 lb. steers this spring (TN) is around $155/cwt.,” he says.
At the same time, though apparently adequate overall, hay supplies are tighter.
“Drought persisted across much of the west in 2020 and has extended into much of the Great Plains at the current time. Several states reveal the impact of the drought on hay production, supplies and the challenges for cattle producers in those regions,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments.
Fed Cattle at $112-$113
Negotiated cash fed cattle trade last week traded above $112/cwt. for the first time in months. Live prices in the Northern Plains were $3-$4 higher at $113/cwt. and $2-$7 higher in the western Corn Belt at $112. Dressed trade in Nebraska was $5 higher at $178. Elsewhere, established trade had yet to develop through Friday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. On Friday, the Texas Cattle Feeders Association reported its members trading cattle at just over $2 more week to week: $112.80 for steers and $112.91 for heifers.
Week to week on Friday, Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.36 lower (65¢ to $1.80 lower).
Wholesale beef prices continue to provide solid support.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $11.13 higher week to week on Friday at $233.95/cwt. Select was $9.36 higher at $222.70. That’s $21.03 higher for Choice over the last two weeks and $19.62 higher for Select.
“Winter is known for strong roast demand, but it is evident that consumers are still looking for steaks in the current market,” Griffith says. “This seems to be a trend that is becoming more pronounced year after year. In other words, consumers may be shifting some of their seasonal beef demand habits. With the composite Choice boxed beef price already over $230, there is a chance that the weekly apex for Choice boxed beef this spring could move as high as $250.”
Griffith notes prices increased at least 16% since the beginning of the year for the short loin, strip loin, and top inside round.
Beef Cow Herd Declines Slightly
The nation’s beef cow herd began this year with 31.16 million head, according to the semi-annul Cattle report from USDA on Friday. That’s 181,000 head fewer or 0.58% less than the previous year.
The number of beef heifers retained for replacement of 5.81 million head was 3,200 head more than the previous year, just 0.06% more.
As of Jan. 1, the calculated number of calves outside feedlots was 25.66 million head, which were 62,000 head fewer (-0.24%) than a year earlier.
Milk cows Jan. 1 of 9.44 million head were 97,400 (+1.04%) more than the previous year.
The inventory of all cattle and calves was estimated at 93.59 million head, down 198,000 (-0.21%) from a year earlier.
Friday to Friday Change
Weekly Auction Receipts
CME Feeder Index
Thursday through Thursday…
|CME Feeder Index*||Jan. 28||Change|
*Wednesday-to Wednesday for CME Feeder Index
Cash Stocker and Feeder
|600-700 lbs.||$153.63||+ $4.20|
|700-800 lbs.||$142.34||+ $1.50|
|800-900 lbs.||$135.13||+ $1.30|
|500-600 lbs.||$158.65||+ $2.42|
|600-700 lbs.||$142.38||+ $2.42|
|700-800 lbs.||$134.53||+ $1.84|
|400-500 lbs.||$156.29||+ $2.44|
|500-600 lbs.||$142.06||+ $2.68|
|600-700 lbs.||$133.76||+ $4.89|
(AMS National Weekly Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary)
Wholesale Beef Value
|Boxed Beef (p.m.)||Jan. 29 ($/cwt)||Change|
|Ch-Se Spread||$11.25||+ $1.77|
|Feeder Cattle||Jan. 29||Change|
|Feb ’22||$123.100||– $1.550|
|Mar ’21||$5.470||+ $0.466|
|Mar ’22||$4.502||+ $0.128|
|Oil CME-WTI||Jan. 29||Change|
|Equity Indexes||Jan. 29||Change|
|Dow Industrial Average||29982.62||– 1014.36|
|S&P 500||3714.24||– 127.23|
|Dollar (DXY)||90.53||+ 0.29|