Cattle Outlook: More Cattle on Feed Than Last Year

US - USDA's March Cattle on Feed report says there were 0.8 per cent more cattle on feed on March 1 than a year ago, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown, Ag Economics, MU.
calendar icon 22 March 2016
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

February placements were up 10.3 per cent and February marketings were up 4.9 per cent. There was one extra day this February because of leap year. The average of the pre-release trade estimates were for February placements to be up 9.0 per cent, February marketings to be up 4.6 per cent, and March 1 on feed to be up 0.4 per cent.

The average retail price of choice beef during February was $5.986 per pound. That was 1.1 cents higher than a month earlier, but 28.4 cents lower than a year earlier. February retail choice beef prices were the highest since November. The average grocery store price of all fresh beef was $5.792 per pound in February.

The 5 area average live price for slaughter steers was $135/cwt in February. That was up 50 cents from January, but down $24.90 from February 2015. February fed cattle prices were the highest since September.

Beef cutout values were higher this week. This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $232.29/cwt, up $8.17 from the previous Friday, but down $12.09 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $223.31/cwt, up $8.06 from last week, but down $21.25 from a year ago.

Fed cattle prices were higher this week in light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $140.52/cwt, up $4.52 from last week's average, but down $20.98 from a year ago. The 5-area average dressed steer price averaged $224.37/cwt, up $6.28 from the week before, but down $30.91 from a year ago.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 545,000 head, up 1.7 per cent from last week and up 4.8 per cent from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 5 was 888 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and up 12 pounds from a year ago. This was the 90th consecutive week with steer weights above the year-ago level.

Prices at the Oklahoma City Stockyards this week were mostly $3 to $6 higher on feeder steers and even stronger on calves compared to last week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $231-$249.50, 450-500# $213-$223, 500-550# $194-$211.50, 550-600# $185-$201, 600-650# $179.50-$191, 650-700# $169.50-$184, 700-750# $153.50-$174.50, 750-800# $147-$162.50, 800-900# $143.50-$159 and 900-1000# $140-$151.75/cwt.

The April live cattle futures contract settled at $139.82/cwt today, up 2 cents for the week. June fed cattle settled at $129.10/cwt, up 55 cents from the previous week. The August contract ended the week at $123.32/cwt, up 12 cents from the previous Friday. March feeder cattle ended the week at $163.22/cwt, up 82 cents from a week earlier. April futures lost 52 cents this week to close at $162.20/cwt. May feeder cattle settled at $160.70/cwt and August closed out the week at $159.55/cwt.

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