USDA’s Oct. 1 Cattle on Feed report confirmed recent bullish ideas for cattlemen. Released nearly two weeks late due to the government shut down, the data pegged total cattle on feed at 10.1 million head, down 8 percent from a year ago. Placements totaled 2.03 million head, 1 percent above last year. Marketings of fed cattle totaled 1.7 million head during September, 6 percent more than the same time last year.
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The cattle on feed numbers were mostly in line with analysts’ estimates, though cattle marketings were slightly higher than anticipated.
Cash prices have rallied in recent weeks, eclipsing all-time highs the past two weeks. Another record could be set this week as packers are aggressive buyers. Through Thursday of this week, top cash prices for fed cattle were recorded at $133 per cwt. live, $1 higher than last week. But Nebraska and Kansas sold cattle this week on a dressed basis at $212, fully $4 per cwt. higher than last week. Feedyards in the south continue to price cattle at $135 per cwt.
Retail beef prices were near record highs before the recent cash price rally, and retailers know they will be forced to pay more for beef in the coming months. Those added costs will be passed on to consumers raising speculation about how high prices can go before demand begins to wane.
Thursday morning’s Choice boxed beef price was $205.59 per cwt. with Select boxed beef at $190.08.