Weekly Cattle Summary: Feedlot Heifer Data, A Sign of Herd Rebuilding

US - Cattle on feed numbers show the lowest July heifer numbers for seven years which could signal rebuilding efforts are materialising, according to Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri.
calendar icon 29 July 2013
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

USDA's July report said the number of cattle on feed at the start of the month was down 3.2 per cent, say. The number was below year-ago for the 11th consecutive month, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown.

The average placement weight during June was up. The number placed weighing less than 700 pounds was down 29.9 per cent and the number placed weighing more than 700 pounds was up 17.6 per cent compared to July 2012.

The number of steers on feed at the start of July was down 3.1 per cent from a year earlier. Heifers on feed were down 3.5 per cent . Heifers as a percent of cattle on feed were the lowest of any July since 2006. This may be a sign that producers are edging toward herd expansion.

There were 480.625 million pounds of beef in cold storage at the end of June. That was down 0.4 per cent from the month before, up 2.5 per cent from a year ago, and the lowest amount for any month since December.

Crop growing conditions are much better than a year ago. As of July 21, 63 per cent of corn acres were rated in good or excellent condition. That is down 3 percentage points from the week before, but up 37 points from a year ago. 28 per cent of U.S. pastures were rated in poor or very poor condition on July 21, down from 55 per cent poor or very poor a year ago.

Fed cattle prices were mixed this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $119.60/cwt, down $1.11 from last week, but up $5.67 from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $191.51/cwt this week, up 51 cents from a week ago and up $11.38 from a year ago.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $187.01/cwt, down $2.50 from the previous Friday, but up $9.84 from a year ago. This was the ninth consecutive week with lower choice cutout. The select carcass cutout is at $182.88/cwt, down $1.44 for the week. The choice-select price spread dropped $1.06 this week to $4.13/cwt.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 641,000 head, down 1.5 per cent from last week, but up 1.1 per cent from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on July 13 was 862 pounds, up 2 pounds from the week before and also up 2 pounds from a year ago.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices this week were steady to $3 lower for steers and steady to $3 higher for heifers with prices for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $181.50, 450-500# $163.50-$183.50, 500-550# $167-$185, 550-600# $157-$174, 600-650# $144-$163, 650-700# $139-$153.50, 700-750# $138-$154.25, 750-800# $135.50-$149, 800-900# $131.25-$145.10, and 900-1000# $127-$135/cwt.

The August live cattle futures contract closed at $121.80/cwt today, down 17 cents from last week's close. The October fed cattle contract lost 37 cents from last Friday to settle at $125.85/cwt. August feeder cattle futures settled at $152.60/cwt, up 35 cents for the week.

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