US Cattle Outlook: Fewer Cattle Than A Year Ago

US - Weekly Cattle Outlook, 26th February: a weekly review of the US cattle industry, written by Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.
calendar icon 1 March 2010
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

USDA’s February cattle on feed report said we started the month with 2.6 per cent fewer cattle than a year ago and the lowest number for any February since 2003. January placements into large feed yards were down 1.8 per cent and below year-ago for the third consecutive month. Marketings during January were up 2.1 per cent despite one fewer slaughter day than January 2009. This was the third consecutive month with higher marketings.

Steer carcase weights averaged 831 pounds the second week of February which was 21 pounds lighter than a year ago. Steer weights have been below year-earlier levels for each of the last 12 weeks. Feedlots appear to be doing a good job of keeping current on marketing fed cattle.

Both domestic beef demand and export demand for US beef were weaker in 2009. Retail beef demand dropped 2.6 per cent compared to 2008 and export demand was off 3.1 per cent. The good news is that export demand for US beef ended the year on a stronger note. The bad news is that domestic retail demand for choice beef was weaker in the fourth quarter of 2009 than during the first quarter. The average price of a pound of choice beef at retail in January was $4.189, down 9.6 cents from December and down 13.4 cents compared to January 2009.

Fed cattle prices have reached the highest level since late 2008. The 5-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers sold through Thursday on a live weight basis was $90.95/cwt, up $2.16 from a week earlier and $11.04 higher than a year ago. The last time the weekly average 5-area live price was over $90 was for the week ending November 14, 2008. Steers sold on a dressed basis this week averaged $144.55/cwt, 7 cents higher than the week before and $14.82 higher than the same week of 2009.

On Friday morning, the choice carcase cutout value was $1.4959/pound, up 3.38 cents for the week and 17.48 cents higher than last year. The select cutout was up 5.15 cents from the previous Friday to $1.4977 per pound. It happens only rarely, but the select cutout is now above the choice cutout.

The April live cattle futures contract ended the week at $91.92/cwt, down $1.38 for the week. June settled at $90.40, down 47 cents from the week before. August settled at $88.82/cwt and the October live cattle contract ended the week at $91.55.

This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 632,000 head, up 1.9 per cent from the previous week and up 2.1 per cent compared to a year ago.

Cash bids for feeder cattle this week were mostly steady to $2 higher at markets across the country. The price ranges at Oklahoma City for medium and large frame steers were: 400-450# $129-136, 450-500# $123-127, 500-550# $117-$124, 550-600# $110-$120, 600-650# $107-$114.25, 650-700# $100-$108, 700-750# $101.25-$106, 750-800# $96.25-$102.75, and 800-1000# $93-$100/cwt.

Feeder cattle futures also were higher this week. The March contract ended the week at $101.05/cwt, down $1.55 from last Friday. April lost $1.50 this week to settle at $102.50/cwt.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2023 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.