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Cattle Outlook: Fed Cattle Prices Drop Slightly

28 May 2012
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

US - USDA’s latest Cold Storage report said there were 517.5 million pounds of beef in cold storage at the end of April. That is up 2.9 per cent from the month before, up 16.8 per cent from a year ago, and the most of any month since December 2006, writes Ron Plain, University of Missouri.

USDA says 96% of corn acres had been planted by May 20. That compares to an average of 81% planted on that date and 75% planted on May 20, 2011. The first condition report of the year says 77% of the corn crop is in good or excellent condition. The Crop Progress report says 76% of the soybean crop was planted by May 20 compared to an average of only 42% on that date.

The May cattle on feed report said the number of cattle on feed May 1 in feed yards with a capacity of 1,000 head or more was down 0.6% from a year earlier. This is the first time the on-feed number has been below year-ago since May 2010. April placements were down 14.8% from a year earlier, the smallest for any April since 2002, and the lowest for any month since June 2009. Large feed yards have gained market share causing a disparity between marketings and fed cattle slaughter. April marketings from large feed yards were up 0.4%. Steer and heifer slaughter for April was down 4.3%. Over the last 15 months, marketings from the large lots included in the monthly cattle on feed surveys have averaged 4 percentage points above steer and heifer slaughter.

The choice carcass cutout value was higher this week. On Friday morning, the choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $194.71/cwt, up $2.20 from the previous Friday. The select carcass cutout was down $1.20 from the previous week to $186.09/cwt of carcass weight.

Fed cattle prices were very slightly lower this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $121.27/cwt, down 16 cents from last week, but up $16.16/cwt from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $193.50/cwt this week, also down 16 cents from a week ago, but up $22.94 from a year ago. Steer dressed prices are below the choice cutout value for the first time since the week ending on November 18.

This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 636,000 head, down 0.8% from the week before and down 5.6% from a year ago. The average dressed weight for steers for the week ending on May 12 was 835 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before, up 13 pounds from a year ago, and above a year earlier for the 18th week in a row.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle prices were mostly $2 to $6 higher this week with the ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $206-$216, 450-500# $189, 500-550# $186-$196.50, 550-600# $177-$189.50, 600-650# $162-$174, 650-700# $159.50-$168, 700-750# $154.50-$160, 750-800# $149-$158, 800-900# $141-$151.50, and 900-1000# $131.50-$144.25/cwt.

Cattle futures ended the week lower. The June live cattle contract settled at $117.65, down $1.67 from the previous Friday. The August contract lost $2.82 this week to end at $119.10.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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