Prices for calves and feeder cattle softened last week, pressured by seasonals, delayed wheat pasture and the lack of bounce in fed cattle prices.
Nationwide, steers and heifers sold $2-$6/cwt. lower, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
“Over the course of this fall, feeder cattle buyers have been more stringent on health protocols. Buyers now have orders that require calves have at least one, preferably two rounds of shots, and be weaned 60 days or more,” explained AMS analysts. “In the Northern Plains, cold weather with poor yard conditions and many crops still waiting to be harvested have put a damper on procuring bawling calves at this time.”
Not counting expiring or new away-Nov, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.28 higher week to week on Friday (57¢ to $2.72 higher).
Looking a little further ahead, analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) note in the latest monthly Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook (LDPO). “Winter forage seems to be in better condition than last year, which could provide a home for calves to stock over the winter. While this may be a positive sign for feeder calf prices in the coming months, limiting factors are the record numbers of cattle already on feed at the beginning of October and expectations of higher feed prices.”
ERS left the projected fourth-quarter feeder steer price unchanged from the previous month at $151-$155/cwt. The 2019 annual price forecast was lowered to $140-$151 on slightly higher anticipated feed costs and continued large feedlot numbers.
Fed Cattle Trade Unevenly Steady
Negotiated cash fed cattle trade remained undeveloped through late Friday afternoon. Although too few to trend, early prices in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt were unevenly steady to a touch softer than the previous week. Early dressed sales were at $178/cwt. in both regions. Early live sales in the western Corn Belt were at $111.50-$112.00. Late Friday, the Texas Cattle Feeders Association reported its members trading at $114, just a touch lower than the previous week’s weighted average.
Although the estimated number of cattle outside feedlots Oct. 1 (30.1 million head) was similar to last year, ERS analysts pointed out cattle are staying on feed longer. The estimated percentage of cattle on feed for more than 150 days in October was around 17%, which was approximately 3% more than last year; slightly above the average for 2013-2017, but less than in 2016.
Except for 5¢ and 2¢ lower in Aug and Oct, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 89¢ higher week to week on Friday (42¢ to $1.92 higher).
In the meantime, Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University points out in his weekly market comments that total cattle so far this year is 2.7% more year over year.
“Increased cattle slaughter, combined with an average of 2.3 lbs. increase in cattle carcass weights, both contribute to a year-to-date increase in beef production of 2.7% year over year,” Peel explains. “Total 2018 beef production is projected to be 27.0 billion lbs., a new record beef production total for the U.S. Beef production is forecast to grow to another record level of 27.5 billion lbs. in 2019.”
Wholesale beef prices continued softer after apparently reaching their seasonal peak earlier than normal. Week to week, Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.29 lower Friday afternoon at $212.91/cwt. Select was $1.15 lower at $197.57.
Friday to Friday Change*
Weekly Auction Receipts
CME Feeder Index
|CME Feeder Index||Nov. 15||Change|
*Thursday-to Thursday for CME Feeder Index
Cash Stocker and Feeder
|600-700 lbs.||$157.01||+ $0.41|
|700-800 lbs.||$150.06||– $5.61|
|800-900 lbs.||$151.40||– $1.47|
|500-600 lbs.||$156.05||– $3.45|
|600-700 lbs.||$146.97||– $4.53|
|700-800 lbs.||$145.63||– $5.51|
|400-500 lbs.||$155.67||+ $0.21|
|500-600 lbs.||$143.44||– $2.66|
|600-700 lbs.||$134.23||– $3.28|
(AMS National Weekly Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary)
Wholesale Beef Value
|Boxed Beef (p.m.)||Nov. 16 ($/cwt)||Change|
|Ch-Se Spread||$15.34||– $1.14|
|Feeder Cattle||Nov. 16||Change|
|Jan ’19||$146.525||+ $2.725|
|Live Cattle||Nov. 16||Change|
|Feb ’19||$119.725||+ $1.925|
|Feb ’20||$117.425||+ $0.425|
|Corn futures||Nov. 16||Change|
|Mar ’19||$3.756||– $0.056|
|Oil CME-WTI||Nov. 16||Change|
|Jan ’19||$56.68||– $3.68|
|Equity Indexes||Nov. 16||Change|
|Dow Industrial Average||25413.22||– 576.08|
|S&P 500||2736.27||– 44.74|
|Dollar (DXY)||96.43||– 0.48|