Cattle market recap for the week of Oct. 14-18
Beef packers scrambled to fill orders this week and were forced to pay record prices on Thursday for Midwestern fed cattle. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) quoted cash fed cattle traded at $128 to $131 per cwt. on Thursday, the agency’s first day back at work following the government shutdown. The price represents a $2 per cwt. increase from last week, and eclipses the previous record price of $130 per cwt.
Cattle sold on a dressed basis in the North at $203 to $204, mostly $204, AMS reported.
Cattle traded in the Southern Plains at $129 per cwt., which is $1 higher than last week.
Despite the positive cash news, analysts have begun wondering if the cash market is "running out of steam." Live cattle futures prices ended the week lower on every contract except the nearby October, and traders are said to be cautious since packers have been "cutting in the red" for the past few weeks. Feeder cattle futures also ended the week lower.
USDA’s cattle on feed report was due today, but will instead be issued next Friday. It will provide a reminder of the dwindling supply of cattle and the struggles of feedyards. Empty pens are a common sight, and Cargill announced plans to close a 62,000-head capacity feedyard in Texas next summer.
Feeder cattle were called $2 per cwt. higher, with Kansas reporting average to high quality feeder steers weighing 750 pounds selling in a range of $169 to $174 per cwt.