Cattle markets moved lower this week, spurred by futures markets that nosedived on Wednesday. Compared to the previous week, USDA Market News reporters said feeder steers and heifers began the week at steady to $4 per cwt. higher prices. Late week trading, however, was $3 to $11 lower.
“There was optimism going into the week, in spite of August having a bad reputation for being tough on the markets,” Agricultural Marketing Service reporters said. “Despite the lower market, low feed costs and the surplus of corn in farmer feeder country continues to spur demand for steers. Prices in the Northern Plains and upper Midwest continue to be the highest in the nation.”
Direct fed cattle trade was called $1 to $3 lower, with the bulk of the week’s business conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday. Fed steers sold mostly at $115 to $116, with dressed sales at $185. Those prices are the lowest since December of last year.
Choice boxed-beef closed Friday $4.01 lower at $199.60, and Select $1.19 lower at $196.12, when compared to last Friday’s close. The Choice-Select price spread was $3.48 per cwt versus $6.30 per cwt last Friday.
Expect Stronger Weights Through Fall
During a recent segment of U.S. Farm Report, Don Close of Rabobank noted weekly slaughter data was showing stronger cattle weights in spite of the "aggressive marketing we saw throughout the spring." Click above to hear his take on the exceptional margins that hedgers had earlier this year and why that might translate into heavier weights through the fall.
The last time cash fed prices and spot live cattle futures were this low was in December 2016, USDA says. The cooler temperatures throughout the past two weeks has helped relieve cattle from heat stress and allowed them to perform well in the feed yards. Livestock have seen quick gains from the previous month.