Cattle Outlook: Beef in Cold Storage Down

US - There were 491 million pounds of beef in cold storage at the end of February, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown, Ag Economics, MU.
calendar icon 29 March 2016
clock icon 2 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

That was 5.3 per cent less than the month before and 0.3 per cent less than a year ago. Total frozen stocks of red meat were down 4.7 per cent from a year ago. Stocks of poultry in cold storage were up 9.5 per cent.

It appears that Central Beef Industries in Center Hill, Florida has ceased operations indefinitely. The plant had the capacity to slaughter about 700 cattle per day.

Beef cutout values were lower last week. On Friday morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $226.24/cwt, down $6.05 from the previous Friday and down $24.19 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $216.45/cwt, down $6.86 from last week and down $30.17 from a year ago. The choice-select price spread is rather large at $9.79/cwt.

Fed cattle prices were lower this week in good volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $136.01/cwt, down $4.51 from last week's average and down $27.97 from a year ago. The 5-area average dressed steer price averaged $217.70/cwt, down $6.67 from the week before and down $42.30 from a year ago.

This week's cattle slaughter totalled 547,000 head, up 0.4 per cent from last week and up 1.5 per cent from a year ago.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 12 was 896 pounds, up 8 pounds from the week before and up 25 pounds from a year ago. This was the 91st consecutive week with steer weights above the year-ago level.

Prices at the Oklahoma City Stockyards this week were steady to $3 lower on feeder steers and steady to $3 higher on calves compared to last week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $218-$245, 450-500# $190-$218, 500-550# $193-$212, 550-600# $186-$199, 600-650# $180-$186, 650-700# $161.50-$179.50, 700-750# $156-$172, 750-800# $151-$159, 800-900# $140-$155 and 900-1000# $135.10-$146.50/cwt.

Today is Good Friday and the Chicago futures market is closed. Yesterday, the April live cattle futures contract settled at $135.85/cwt today, down $3.97 for the week. June fed cattle settled at $125.37/cwt, down $3.73 from the previous week. The August contract ended the week at $120.82/cwt, down $2.50 from the previous Friday.

April feeder cattle ended the week at $155.82/cwt, down $6.38 from a week earlier. May futures lost $5.68 this week to close at $155.02/cwt. August feeder cattle settled at $154.85/cwt.

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