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Cattle Outlook: Feeder Market Rising

June 9, 2014
BT Rotator Feedlot 14
The feeder cattle market is on the rise while exports continue to hold strong.  

The feeder cattle market is on the rise while exports continue to hold strong.
By: Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri

Feeder cattle contracts cracked the $200 ceiling this week with August through November contracts ending above $200/cwt. The August feeder cattle contract ended the week at $200.53/cwt, up $3.48 for the week. The September feeder cattle contract settled at $200.87, up $2.75 from the previous Friday.

U.S. beef exports continue to be strong despite record prices. April exports were 15.0% greater than in April 2013 with Hong Kong, South Korea and Mexico accounting for most of the increase. Beef exports during the first third of 2014 were up 7.2% compared to January-April 2013.

Beef imports during April were up 17.1% with Australia accounting for most of the increase. Total beef imports during the first third of 2014 are up 5.5% compared to January-April 2013. Beef imports equaled 13.3% of U.S. beef production while exports equaled 10.1% of production.

April imports of live cattle from Canada were up 17.1% compared to the year before. April cattle imports from Mexico were up 9.3%.

USDA said this week that 19% of U.S. pastures were in poor or very poor condition on June 1, down 2 points from the previous week and down from 25% poor or very poor a year ago.

Fed cattle prices were higher this week on light sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $145.13/cwt, up 97 cents from last week's average and up $21.73 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers was $231.84/cwt, up $1.08 for the week and up $36.04 from the same week last year.

Beef prices were lower this week. This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $229.94/cwt, down $3.38 from the previous Friday, but up $28.00 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $221.16/cwt, down $1.56 from last week, but up $37.15 from a year earlier.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 614,000 head, up 14.3% from the previous week's holiday shortened total, but down 5.2% from the corresponding week last year. The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending on May 24 was 843 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before, but down 3 pounds compared to the same week last year.

Feeder cattle prices at this week's Oklahoma City auction were $2 lower to $6 higher than the week before. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $244-$262, 450-500# $224-$257.50, 500-550# $217-$245, 550-600# $217-$242, 600-650# $205-$227, 650-700# $194.50-$214.50, 700-750# $192.50-$206.50, 750-800# $184.75-$195.25, 800-900# $172-$186.75, and 900-1000# $164-$174.60/cwt.

The June live cattle futures contract closed at $140.12/cwt today, up $2.32 from last week's close. August fed cattle settled at $141.30/cwt, up $2.70 for the week. The October contract ended the week at $144.50/cwt.

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