Weekly Cattle Summary: Sky High Beef Smashes Record Highs

US - Last week, slaughter and carcass prices 'blew away' record highs of the week before once again, report Ron Plain and Scott Brown in their weekly analysis.
calendar icon 27 January 2014
clock icon 2 minute read

Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $148.45/cwt, up $5.80 from a week ago and up $25.72 from a year ago.

Steer sales on a dressed basis averaged a record $238.86/cwt this week, up $11.59 from last week and up $40.93 from a year ago.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $238.27/cwt, up $6.52 from the previous Friday, up $37.62 from December 31, and up $50.67 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is $237.22/cwt, up $8.27 for the week, up $40.81 from the end of 2013, and up $55.04 from last year.

Fed cattle prices on a live weight basis are $14/cwt higher than the peak prior to this month. Are prices nearing a top? That will depend on how consumers react when these record wholesale prices show up at retail. The seasonal peak in fed cattle prices and boxed beef cutout value typically come in April.

USDA's January cattle on feed report said the number of cattle on feed at the start of the year was down 5.4 per cent compared to January 2012. The trade expected that number to be down 6.0 per cent . Placements into feed yards in December were up 1.0 per cent . The trade predicted down 1.9 per cent . USDA said marketings were down 0.5 per cent even though December steer and heifer slaughter was up 3.8 per cent .

There were 438.123 million pounds of beef in cold storage on December 31. That was 2.8 per cent less than the month before and 5.9 per cent less frozen beef than a year earlier.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 597,000 head, up 0.5 per cent from last week, but down 4.3 per cent from the corresponding week last year.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on January 11 was 871 pounds, down 5 pounds from the week before and down 1 pound from a year earlier.

Feeder cattle prices at this week's Oklahoma City auction were steady to $3 lower than the week before. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $228-$237, 450-500# $210-$230, 500-550# $204-$224.50, 550-600# $186-$207.50, 600-650# $173-$191, 650-700# $168-$179, 700-750# $162-$175, 750-800# $160-$167.25, 800-900# $154-$165, and 900-1000# $148-$157/cwt.

The February live cattle futures contract closed at a record $143.40/cwt today, up $3.05 from last week's close. April fed cattle settled at $140.10, up 80 cents for the week. June settled at $132.12/cwt, up 67 cents.

The January feeder cattle futures contract ended the week at $170.70/cwt, up 70 cents for the week. March feeders closed at $168.87/cwt.

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