Cattle Outlook

US - USDA's April cattle on feed report said that placements during March were 3.3 per cent above year-ago and marketings were 4.5 per cent higher than in March 2010, writes Ron Plain.
calendar icon 25 April 2011
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

The number of cattle on feed April 1 was up 5.0 per cent. These numbers are slightly more bullish than the trade predictions. USDA also said that only 36.4 per cent of the cattle on feed were heifers. This is the lowest for any April 1 since 2007 and may be a sign that cow-calf producers are beginning to save heifers for breeding.

The price of choice beef in grocery stores during March set a new record for the third consecutive month. The March average price of choice beef at retail was $4.747 per pound, up 12.9 cents from February and up 43.9 cents compared to March 2010. More good news for cattle prices: January, February and March are typically the three months with the lowest retail beef prices.

The price of slaughter steers was record high during March for the fourth consecutive month with the 5 area average price at $115.60/cwt of live weight.

There was 448.8 million pounds of beef in cold storage at the end of March. That was down 2.4 per cent from a month earlier, but up 16.7 per cent compared to a year earlier.

On Friday morning the choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $186.28/cwt, down 81 cents from last week’s value. The select carcase cutout was down $4.67 from the previous Friday to $179.57 per hundred pounds of carcass weight.

The 5-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers sold through Thursday of this week on a live weight basis was $119.29/cwt, up 5 cents from last week. Steers sold on a dressed weight basis this week averaged $191.37/cwt, $1.24 higher than the week before. This week last year, slaughter steer prices averaged $99.31/cwt live and $160.35/cwt dressed.

This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 649,000 head, up 1.4 per cent from the week before and up 0.3 per cent compared to the same week last year. Steer carcase weights averaged 819 pounds during the week ending April 9. That was down 2 pounds from the week before, but 5 pounds heavier than a year ago. Steers weights have been above year-ago for the last 18 weeks.

Cash bids for feeder cattle around the country this week were mostly steady to $6 lower. Oklahoma City prices were steady on stocker cattle and steady to $5 lower on feeder cattle than the previous week with price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $160.50-$168, 450-500# $155-$159, 500-550# $144-$156.50, 550-600# $142.25-$154, 600-650# $129-$149.75, 650-700# $132.50-$140.50, 700-750# $130.75-$136.25, 750-800# $127-$134.25, 800-900# $120.75-$131.25 and 900-1000# $114.50-$122.75/cwt.

Today is Good Friday so the futures markets ended the week a day early. The April fed cattle futures contract ended the week on Thursday at $118.40/cwt, up $1.00 from last Friday. The June contracted closed out the week at $115.225/cwt. August settled at $116.675 and October ended the week at $121.475/cwt.

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