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Cattle Outlook

04 January 2011
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

US - Fed cattle prices were close to record levels this week, reports Ron Plain from the University of Missouri.

The 5-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers sold through Wednesday of this week on a live weight basis was $106.26/cwt, up $3.79 compared to a week earlier and the highest weekly average price since October 2003.

Steers sold on a dressed weight basis this week averaged $169.09/cwt, $5.57 higher than the week before. The same week last year, slaughter steer prices averaged $84.11/cwt live and $135.17/cwt dressed.

The boxed beef cutout value was also higher this week. On Thursday afternoon the choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $1.6319/pound, up 4.27 cents for the week. The select cutout was up 4.55 cents from the previous Friday to $1.5719 per pound.

USDA's official estimate of this week's slaughter will not be released until Monday. Trade estimates have cattle slaughter totaling 583,000 head, up 6.4% from the week before and up 9.9% compared to the same week last year. This was the 25th consecutive week with cattle slaughter above the year-earlier level. The annual calf crop has declined for 15 consecutive years. The increase in cattle slaughter this year is due in part to increased cow slaughter and in part to pulling ahead on fed cattle slaughter. Both are indicators of reduced cattle slaughter in 2011.

Steer carcass weights averaged 852 pounds during the week ending December 18. That was down 3 pounds from the week before but 9 pounds heavier than a year ago.

Because of the holiday schedule, the Oklahoma City stockyards are closed for two weeks. Missouri feeder cattle prices were generally higher this week with light volume. Price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $134-$159, 450-500# $138.50-$150, 500-550# $135-$146.25, 550-600# $129.75-$141, 600-650# $120.75-$136, 650-700# $120.50-$134.85, 700-750# $116.25-$130.25, 750-800# 119.75-$126, and 800-1000# $103.25-$119.75/cwt.

The February fed cattle futures contract ended last week at $108.35/cwt, up 78 cents from a week ago. The April contracted closed out the week at $112.20/cwt, up 80 cents, July settled at $109.27/cwt and October closed at $112.00.

January feeder cattle futures ended the week at $121.87/cwt up 42 cents from the week before; March feeder cattle settled at $123.95 and April closed Friday at $124.82.

Fed cattle prices this year averaged roughly $95/cwt on a live weight basis. That is $12.30 higher than in 2009 and $2.75 above the 2008 record. This year's record may not last long. Beef production is expected to be down 2.5% in 2011. All live cattle futures contracts for 2011 are trading above $108/cwt.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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